Even Distributions Are For Chumps

There is a way out of this situation. It starts with realizing that in any piece of content, the value is not evenly distributed. (Emphasis his)

Tiago Forte, Building a Second Brain

That is a true statement. It’s also a statement many fake gurus use to justify their “read more faster” advice. “Just read the table of contents then skim for the headings” they say. “You’ll get 80% of the message in 20% of the time.”

Well, that’s a shitty use of both Forte’s point and the 80/20 principle. As much as the value of content isn’t evenly distributed, value also isn’t even distributed per reader or per reading. It shifts based on the individual at that moment and the individual at a future moment in time. With great content, not only will those original points still be relevant years later, but the value in the valleys between those peaks will emerge. Whereas with garbage (cough Kindle Unlimited 80 page self-help garbage cough) content, the value of even those bold headings will fade.

It’s why I both encourage highlighting/note taking/marking the page at the top (to borrow Cal Newport’s method) while reading through a book, then reading through it again. Not just the parts you highlighted, which I’m assuming you put into a second brain or slipcase or commonplace book. If you just read over the highlights, you’re missing the content that reveals that value, and that in time will have value all on its own.