Second Brain

With the internet and the many apps enabling creation of content, it has become very easy to consume a lot of information. The velocity of information is more than the velocity of consumption. This leads to people collecting information without connecting them.

Think of a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece is an information.

Now what ever information you have, you start associating them. They will all connect. And then let us say you get a new piece of knowledge that you aren’t able to connect with anything you already know.

Now, what you can do is, start exploring the new information and dig deep and try to go on, till you finally hit a concept that connects it to what you already know.

The good part is, as you start connecting all the information you know, you will realize you will have knowledge of even information you have never gotten before. For instance in the below jigsaw puzzle, a piece is missing. But since all your other pieces are connected, even though you have never seen the missing piece, you know it is a piece of candle stick.

This is why having a second brain is important. After a period of time, you will not have to learn everything to know about it. You will be able to deduce it from what you already know.

Here is how to do it:

  1. Consume quality content.
    1. Prefer public networks (Forums, HN, Stackoverflow, Twitter etc.) where content created by anyone is visible to everyone and not just limited to their friends. Why? Because closed networks leads to crappy content. Sites like Linkedin/Facebook where people can set visibility of their posts, tend to have generic content/copied content and unoriginal half baked ideas, because they wouldn’t have to face public scrutiny of their poor ideas/plagiarism. Original ideas come from bold people, who aren’t worried about public scrutiny.
    2. Read research papers.
    3. Read books.
    4. Have 1 on 1 lunch, dinner with people. Group meetings are low intellectually, because people tend to talk in the lowest common denominator.
  2. Take time to fill up your second brain repo with anything new you have learned. Don’t consume more, till you dump what you have learned already into the second brain. Because if you don’t do this, you will just keep collecting jigsaw puzzle pieces without connecting anything.
  3. If you find the new information doesn’t connect with anything that you already know, start learning more about it, till you find some way to connect it to a concept you already know. Don’t consume more unrelated content till then.

Some advice:

  1. Don’t worry about formatting, making things look good, grammar etc. All that kills your enthusiasm to dump your knowledge and makes it a chore. If something is not enjoyable, then you stop doing it.
  2. It will be damn difficult at first. Because you have so much knowledge already and you won’t know where to start and it will seem overwhelming. Forget about everything you know. Start fresh. Pick what ever you consumed today, and jot down the ideas/insights/concepts you got from it. Do this over a period of time and you will notice most of your existing knowledge is logged in.
  3. It is not about quantity of content. It is about quality. Even if you have few ideas/information, but they are well connected, they will enable you to understand information that you don’t know.
  4. Focus on connecting information and not collecting information.
  5. Writing crystallises thought process. If you don’t write, you will never know the gaps in your understanding.