have you ever read a book, and then come back to it few months or years later and have no Idea what the book is about? All that time you took to read that book pretty much wasted. And when it comes to all those kindle highlights you have, do you ever do anything with them? I’ve seen services that offer to mail you random highlights every day, but in the long run, you’ll just forget those too, so what’s the point? You need a way to convert those highlights into long term usable data.
In the book, How to Take Smart Notes (Sönke Ahrens), he covers the Zettelkasten NoteTaking System, and in this system is the idea that you shouldn’t just clip quotes, but instead, clip the quote, and then re-write that quote in your own words; thus showing you actually understand what you just clipped. The other thing that needs to be done is correctly tagging the note, so when you have hundreds of these notes (across multiple books) you can see how they are related and connected.
Based on that, this is the workflow I use for collecting kindle highlights:
- read and highlight interesting parts of the book.
- import each highlight as indivdual wiki entries
- when I create a new wiki entry, I use a template that contains all the key sections that I want to fill in: the orignal quote, my restating of that idea, any questions or follow on idea I might have, and where this quote came from (book/author). I also add a tag @toedit, so I can import a bunch of data from the kindle, and come back and fill in the rest when I have time.
- re-write the highlight in my own words
- this is one of the important parts of this system. You need to write the idea out in your own words so your brain can’t trick you into thinking you understand someting when you really don’t
- tag the entry accordingly
- this is also very important. Once you have a few hundred quotes tags, you’ll be able to see corelations and connections through how they are tagged. Also, when it comes to doing something with your notes, say writing an article on note taking, you can pull up the tag @notetaking, and have all the material you need for that article ready to go.
- automatically link to the book and author
- this allows me to click on a book, and see all the entries linked to it.
The full source of the importer can be found here https://github.com/analogpixel/personal-wiki/blob/master/cli/parseKindle.py
Parsing the clippings file is pretty straightforward in python:
clip_file="/Volumes/Kindle/documents/My Clippings.txt" with open(clip_file, "r") as f: for line in f: tmp = line.strip().split("(") if len(tmp) == 2: book_title = tmp book_author = tmp[0:-1] else: book_title = tmp book_author = "none" book_info = f.__next__().strip() blank_line = f.__next__().strip() quote = f.__next__().strip() eoq = f.__next__().strip()