This is Platformer, a newsletter on the intersection of Silicon Valley and democracy from Casey Newton and Zoë Schiffer. Sign up here.
Today let’s step outside the news cycle and turn our attention toward a topic I’m deeply invested in but only rarely write about: productivity platforms. For decades now, software tools have promised to make working life easier. But on one critical dimension — their ability to improve our thinking — they don’t seem to be making much progress at all.
Meanwhile, the arrival of generative artificial intelligence could make the tools we use more powerful than ever — or they could turn out to be just another mirage.
To understand where things went wrong, I want to focus on the humble note-taking app: the…