As much as possible, we will try to follow a philosophy of writing and research captured by Sönke Ahrens in their book How to Take Smart Notes and attributed to the German sociologist Niklas Luhmann: “one cannot think without writing.”
This seemingly simple idea captures a profound shift from the way we normally understand writing as the end product of a process of research and analysis. Instead of treating writing as the final stage in this process, we want to approach writing as a constant practice of interpreting, synthesizing and linking information and ideas to create new knowledge and insight.
In mundane, practical terms, this fundamental idea of “thinking as writing” means writing research notes–and writing a lot of them–as if you were constantly building up a paper or report bit by bit, by interpreting what you are researching and reading and by putting this down in bite-sized pieces in your own words.
The primary tool that allows us to effectively and efficiently engage in the practice of writing research notes and linking them together is a minimal markup style called Markdown. This section of the docs introduces you to the basics of writing in Markdown.