📖 Four principles of a feminist note-taking methodology
Considering the varying conceptualizations of notes as representations, constructions, and structures of knowledge in relation to feminist epistemological concerns, I return to my original question: How can we take notes committed to producing socially just knowledges? This section presents four brief principles which inform by own feminist note-taking methodology. Although these principles are necessarily listed in a chosen order, no one principle is more important than the other. They are all required to work together to establish a feminist note network.
I also include some rudimentary technical explanations as to how to enact these principles. This includes writing notes in a language called Markdown, a human readable language which enables heading structures and basic text formatting like italics, bold, links, and blockquotes. Critically, Markdown enables not just hyperlinks to outside resources but also links between files. For details on Markdown syntax, I highly recommend visiting Markdown Guide ( Cone, 2022).
While Markdown is human readable, it requires software to render its links and formatting. Users can, however, easily change between software, making Markdown relatively future-proof. The software I use and recommend for note-taking is called Obsidian. Obsidian is a robust, local, and free software which renders Markdown. Consider software a window through which notes written in Markdown can be read, edited, interacted with, and navigated between. One especially useful aspect of Obsidian is the ability to render a list of all files which link to another. This allows the user to navigate both forward and backward through their links. The primary advantage of Obsidian, however, is that the files it renders are entirely local, meaning that Obsidian requires no internet connection and is entirely secure. Obsidian is used by a significant portion of the PKM community and has a multitude of community-made plugins which can adapt the software to fit individual needs. I also highly recommend visiting both Obsidian’s official documentation ( Obsidianmd, nd) and checking out Obsidian-specific PKM community resources. Obsidian’s YouTube playlists of various community video walkthroughs of the software ( Obsidian, nd), the Obsidian subreddit ( r ObsidianMD, nd); and the Obsidian Roundup newsletter ( Konik, nd) are good places get started.
These principles draw on strategies outlined by a number of thinkers in PKM, many of whom offer their own principles and guides to note-taking. Importantly, however, there is no distinctly “right way” of to take notes: Note-taking systems are unique to the individual(s) writing and reading these notes, their intended uses, and the underlying technologies available. Feminist perspectives on methods echo this notion, stressing the importance of context and social location on research processes ( Gunaratnam & Hamilton, 2017). These methods are no exception. I hope, however, that it can encourage other students and researchers to critically examine the impacts of their own note-taking practices on their work, and perhaps inspire the development of additional note-taking methodologies which hold social justice at their core—producing new and varying methods I hope will also be shared with others.