Ken Zinser

Write it down

Language is what separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom. Specifically, written language is the most defining characteristic.

Written language is how we go from small groups telling stories around a fire to cities and civilizations living together in relative peace and harmony.

Written language represents a way to transfer knowledge and understanding between individuals, communities, generations.

Fast way, way forward: Writing has become a valuable skill differentiating me from others. I write notes. Meeting notes. Project notes. I collect and organize written information so that other people have a record, a history, of otherwise invisible social and commercial workflows.

I ask people if it’s written down somewhere. It could just be my environment, but it’s rarely written down.

So I tell people to just write it down. Whatever it is.

It used to be that my focus was on visual organization and communication of information. Then I focused on templates, making it easy for other people to visually organize and communicate their information. Then it was about documenting and organizing knowledge. Now it’s about helping others turn information into knowledge.

What does it look like to turn knowledge into wisdom? Is there a role or profession that does that?

It would help to define these terms. Information is data, facts. Knowledge incorporates relevant context. Wisdom is…


It seems like all I do these days is gather and organize information. There’s a huge space between the end of someone’s personal notes and the start of an epidemiologist collecting structured data. I operate almost exclusively in that gap. Bridging the divide between an individual’s idea and an institution’s knowledge.