Conclusion: Adopting a feminist note-taking system
Notes are generally considered important (if dull) aspects of learning and research ( Gimenez & Pinel, 2013; Morehead et al, 2019; Tinny & Nhamo, 2013). Most methodological approaches to note-taking, however, focus on the representational or constitutive role of individual notes in the knowledges they produce. And while some analyses of institutional knowledge management critique a lack of attention to the always-present power dynamics of file organization ( Gitelman, 2014; Schwartz & Cook, 2002; Vismann, 2008), these critiques have not been explored in relation to personal note-taking methods. The growing PKM community, on the other hand, emphasizes the importance of structure in the production of knowledge via notes ( Ahrens, 2017), but tends to avoid considering who these knowledges serve or thinking critically about the types of neoliberal subjects their rhetoric produces. Alongside these explorations of the role of notes and files in knowledge production, feminist theorists continue to urge that we critically consider how hegemonic power structures shape what knowledges are knowable by whom ( Garland-Thomson, 2002; Haraway, 1988; Hartsock, 1985), their accepted validity ( Hill Collins, 1989), and who benefits from them ( TallBear, 2014).
Bringing these bodies of work together, we can see that establishing a note-taking practice is one space where feminist practices can be enacted in the effort to produce more socially just research. My feminist note-taking methodology is my own effort to do so, using atomicity, flatness, interconnection, and iteration to finding novel connections between unexpected sources. to find novel connections between unexpected sources. It is no small feat to adopt a new note-taking system. Not only does this approach encourage rethinking exactly what a note should be, but it also requires getting to know new software. This is compounded further by the way that a network of notes relies on note volume as well as to note quality. Reaching this critical mass can be daunting, but is incredibly rewarding: As the volume of notes grows, new patterns emerge which would have been easily overlooked otherwise—and once recognized, these patterns become easy motivators to continue maintaining a note-taking system, rewarding not just for the new ideas they can bring to light but also their potential to challenge the status quo of institutional knowledge production and support underrepresented voices.