The Power of Reading, Note-Taking, and Cumulative Knowledge

Aviral Vaid

Hatched by Aviral Vaid

Oct 13, 2023

3 min read


The Power of Reading, Note-Taking, and Cumulative Knowledge


Reading is an essential tool for acquiring knowledge and expanding our understanding of the world. However, if we don't take notes effectively, we may forget the majority of what we read. Our brains are wired to forget, making it crucial to develop efficient note-taking strategies to retain information. In this article, we will explore the importance of taking notes, the value of sharing knowledge, and the concept of cumulative versus cyclical knowledge.

The Forgotten Knowledge:

"The Brutal Truth About Reading: If You Don't Take Notes Right, You'll Forget Nearly Everything." This statement highlights the fact that our brains are more prone to forgetting than remembering. Our minds are like leaky vessels, constantly losing valuable information. To combat this, we must adopt effective note-taking techniques to capture and retain the knowledge we gain from reading.

Sharing to Remember:

One interesting insight is that sharing what we learn helps us remember it better. When we share information with others, we reinforce our understanding and solidify the concepts in our minds. However, over time, our excitement to share diminishes. The initial enthusiasm we feel when we discover a new insight gradually fades away. Thus, it becomes crucial to find alternative ways to keep the flame of excitement alive and continue sharing knowledge.

The Power of Cumulative Knowledge:

Amazon's journey provides a great example of the power of cumulative knowledge. To grow, Amazon needed to store and process vast amounts of data, leading to the creation of Amazon Web Services (AWS). This infrastructure, initially built for their own needs, has now become more profitable than all other Amazon divisions combined. Amazon also leveraged their expertise in warehousing, shipping, and product listings to create additional revenue streams. This highlights the value of accumulating knowledge and leveraging it for future success.

Understanding Titanium Knowledge:

The value of knowledge stems from two factors: how often you use it over time and its overall usefulness. Often, we underestimate the value of Titanium Knowledge, which refers to knowledge that helps us become marginally better at something over an extended period. It may be challenging to grasp the value of being 2% better at prioritizing for the next 10 years (3,650 days) of our lives. However, it is easier to understand the value of knowledge that can solve immediate or future problems.

Cumulative vs. Cyclical Knowledge:

Different fields of knowledge exhibit diverse characteristics. Some areas, such as finance, accumulate knowledge over time. Reading old finance articles can make us realize that the ancient past was not too different from today. On the other hand, fields like medicine rely on cyclical knowledge. Medical commentary from the past may seem outdated, as new research and advancements continuously reshape the understanding of diseases and treatments. The nature of cyclical knowledge necessitates constant learning and adaptation.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Develop effective note-taking habits: Implement a system that works for you, whether it's bullet points, mind maps, or summaries. Regularly review and revise your notes to reinforce your understanding and prevent forgetting.
  • 2. Embrace the power of sharing: Find ways to share the knowledge you acquire, whether it's through discussions, writing articles, or teaching others. Engaging with the material in this manner will help solidify your understanding.
  • 3. Recognize the value of cumulative knowledge: Even small improvements in your skills or decision-making abilities can have a significant impact over time. Embrace Titanium Knowledge and prioritize continuous learning and growth.


Reading is a powerful tool for expanding our knowledge and understanding. However, without effective note-taking strategies, we risk losing most of what we read. Sharing knowledge helps us remember and deepen our understanding, and cumulative knowledge can create significant long-term benefits. By embracing efficient note-taking techniques, sharing what we learn, and recognizing the value of cumulative knowledge, we can enhance our learning journey and create lasting impact in our lives.

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