Pursuing a “perfect” information system is mostly a waste of time. There’s no such thing. Like any aspect of knowledge work, the goal for redesigning a note-taking or reference system should be betterment and awareness.

My information storage needs have naturally evolved with my interests and life. They will change again. Storage systems are also a private illusion—a meta layer of organization that only my eyes will see and appreciate. I think understanding the illusory aspect of organization is critical because it helps maintain a sense of humility and avoids prioritizing a system itself over the value that a system creates in the world.

The aesthetics of an information system matter only to the extent that they inspire an urge to create new connections and bring new combinations into the world. This is not to say that the beauty of a system does not matter. It matters very much. But no more than the information that a system can ultimately release into the world.

No matter how far you zoom into or out of the universe, you will see networks of information. From subatomic particles to cells within our bodies to human civilizations to the arrangements of galaxies, every thing we can perceive in our universe is a component of some network layer. The value of any component can only be measured by how it affects other components in its network. A network’s value only arises when it enables higher order networks. Everything ultimately affects everything else, but the effects of organization are more beautiful to behold because they have intent.

In the most universal sense, our unique role as conscious components of the universe is to organize, impose meaning on, and transmit information. This is deep in our innate programming, and it’s probably why we prefer order to chaos and why we seek and perceive meaning even where a hypothetical higher order being would confirm chaos.

So yes. The aesthetics and hedonistic experience of information matters very much. To take delight in taking notes is to create more notes. To enjoy reviewing notes is to review notes more often. And to derive pleasure from fusing notes into greater statements of meaning is to also do that more often.