As my job is to assimilate lots of knowledge, play with it, and then share with people the cool things, I become more and more aware of how my brain works when I learn.
As I read, my brain is trying to draw a picture of the concept.
Even if the concept is not material, as software or mathematics.
Every sentence draws a more accurate picture or extends it.
When the picture is done, the text become irrelevant.
The picture is big, and it tell me the whole story. I can zoom in for details or zoom out, and move to parallel topics. As I browse, I recall the story that goes with the parts and explain it.
I know that I don't fully understand a concept when I can't visualize it.
However, I can't use the picture as is to transfer the knowledge. Some parts of it are interconnected with knowledge irrelevant to my audience.
Reading is a linear activity but learning is not it's up to you to decide when to zoom in, zoom out or move. The book can suggest you the order, but the real order will come from what you already know and which part of the picture you want to extend.
I am a big fan of mind maps, this permits me to remind me quickly all the image that come with a node and its transitions. My mind maps are irrelevant to someone else, because they relate to my own picture.
Some people suggests that note taking should be the process of drawing this mental picture down to paper. But I have a problem with paper : it is linear and my picture is not, it get extended on all side as I read books... not just at the end.
But computers overcome this limitation.
So I will give a try to graphic tablet as a tool for drawing my mind maps and images.