I take fairly good notes at conferences--I was a superlative note-taker in college, if that's something to pride oneself on--and over the years I've wound up with pages and pages of notes recording the authors, titles, and main arguments of just about every paper I've ever heard. I jot down the names of seemingly useful books, underline things, and draw little arrows to the stuff that seems really important. (I also write nasty comments to myself when I think the speaker is an idiot--but I always try to remind myself of WHY the speaker is an idiot, so there's some record for posterity; even when I'm a bitch, see, I'm a conscientious one.)
The problem is, when I get home, I staple all those pages of notes together, clip them to the conference program, and put them in a file folder (usually labled by year: "Conferences 2006," "Conferences 2007"). . . and then I never look at them again.
I always assume that my memory will be jogged at the right moment--say, on that day ten years in the future when for some reason I'm struck with a burning desire to teach Donne's "Anniversaries," or write on Timon of Athens--but I'm beginning to suspect that this is untrue. Now, when the information that I receive is immediately useful to a current project, I usually have no trouble remembering it; I go home and put a sticky note on my desk, or add a title to my working bibliography, or whatever. But when the information is only possibly useful? At some point in the unknown future? It disappears into a black hole.
Maybe I need to cut up those notes so that they go into topical folders ("Misc. Shakespeare," say) that I might actually have a reason to refer to in the future. Or maybe I need to stop being such a nerd about note-taking.
But I don't know. How do people use conference notes? Do they, in fact, use them? And does anyone ever remember anything s/he doesn't write down?