Aidan's Infinite Play 37 What Is Your PKM Thinking Style? LYT 11 Part 1

Aidan's Infinite Play 37 What Is Your PKM Thinking Style? LYT 11 Part 1

Hello players!

I recently finished the first week of Linking Your Thinking Workshop 11!

For those that don't know, The Linking Your Thinking Workshop is headed by Nick Milo and teaches students over five weeks how to build a Personal Knowledge Management System that allows them to do their best thinking. Over the next five weeks we are going to be exploring some of the major insights I take away from the course because, oh my god, has it been illuminating. During the first week I:

  • Learned something surprising about my PKM thinking style...
  • Learned What Struggles People Getting Into PKM Are Trying To Solve
  • Learned The LYT Solution To Navigate The Age of Information Overwhelm

Let's get into it!

My Personal PKM Thinking Style

One of the insights that Nick Milo emphasizes in the workshop is that just like how our health is N = 1, our PKM thinking style is N = 1.

There is no guarantee that what works for someone else will work for you. Someone might taste peanut butter and think it's bad. That someone is also likely a serial killer, but we are all individuals in our preferences for things.

Similarly, our PKM thinking styles are personal to us as well.

Someone might be more of a bottom-up thinker, taking isolated notes and connecting them together where, as someone else might be more of a top-down thinker, preferring to map many individual notes together. That's why learning your PKM thinking style is so essential. Mindlessly copying someone else's PKM system won't work if you don't understand how YOU think.

In the first week, we took the PKM planet survey to help us uncover what our unique PKM thinking style was.

I was very surprised.

The PKM Personalities

Firstly we chose between four different PKM avatars, as you can see below.

We were only allowed to choose one, so naturally, I went with the one that reminded me most of Gandalf, The Creative.

While I feel I embody some aspects of all of them, the creative resonated most with me. Using my notes, I create a weekly YouTube video, blog, newsletter (you are reading right now!), two podcasts, and many shorter articles. Expressing is, in my opinion, the end goal of a PKM system because it's where you get to expose your ideas to the outside world and hopefully make a change in someone's day.

Expression is where our efforts in developing a PKM system extend itself to the outside world.

I Can't Believe What I Learned Next...

The next thing I learned surprised the Kajeebus out of me.

I have a predominantly architect mode of thinking according to the survey results:

The two most common PKM personalities are architects and gardeners.

Architects like to think top-down, creating structure beforehand and adding knowledge over time. Gardeners like to think of bottom-up growing ideas over time without a pre-ordained structure. Neither personality is wrong or right. Architects like to have structure when taking notes, preferring to add ideas through MOCs or projects. In contrast, gardeners like having less structure, preferring to add ideas that resonate with them to a new note.

Maps and projects are top-down; notes are bottom-up.

For all of my time using Obsidian, I have thought of myself as a gardener. That was the main selling point of Obsidian for me. Grow notes over time by elaborating on them and connecting them so that your knowledge compounds with you over time.

But looking at the way I take notes, this isn't the case.

The times where I feel most enlivened by my PKM system are when I'm creating a MOC out of something. When I'm combining a collection of notes together into one greater whole. Not when I'm connecting notes at the individual level. Then I realized...

All of my writings are, in a way, MOCs.

Every YouTube script, every blog post, every newsletter, every podcast is a way of assembling the various ideas I have been collecting and making a map out of them.

Understanding this is allowing me to embrace my thinking style fully. I'm prioritizing MOCs over connecting notes on the individual level. But this doesn't mean I don't connect notes at the individual level at all.

An important thing Nick Milo notes is that problems arise when architects or gardeners can't embody the other personality in their notetaking.

As an architect, you must be comfortable digging deeper into your MOCs and creating notes, and as a gardener, you must be comfortable combining notes and creating MOCs. So while I'm biasing my PKM system toward MOCs, I continue to connect notes on the individual level using my conceptual note-making method.

In this way, I have learned to find balance in my notetaking.

I don't see architects and gardeners as mutually exclusive but rather the Yin and Yang of PKM.

What Struggles Are People Getting Into PKM Trying To Solve?

When I first started getting into PKM, I thought it was a very niche thing.

Who but the most obsessed should care about developing their own Personal Knowledge Management System? Personal Knowledge Management System can turn you into a nerd just by hearing it. But Nick Milo made it clear that building a PKM system should be something everyone does.

Because the struggles it solves are universal.

The amount of information in the digital age is overwhelming.

People need a system to make sense of what is going on. If you don't have one, you will fall for the collector's fallacy, collecting more and more information but having no way to make sense of it.

In addition, with the advent of AI, building a PKM system is more important than ever.

Your PKM system provides the ammunition that AI needs to create personalized, valuable information for you. Think of the power. An AI system fueled with your unique thoughts, an understanding of your personality and way of thinking, that can respond in a way specific to you.

It can only happen if you have a system that stores what makes you unique.

Just listen to some of the reasons showcased for why people want to build a PKM system, and you will see why it applies to everyone:

  • Learn
  • Research
  • Remember
  • Organize
  • Write
  • Create
  • Generate Ideas

The Biggest Outcomes People Are Looking For On LYT

Notice the implications of all of these statements.

They all connect PKM to a higher ideal, like thinking better so that you can better teach others, feel more at peace with yourself, and become a more multifaceted human being.

PKM isn't some weird niche hobby; in many ways it's as crucial as exercise, sleep, eating healthier, and fostering better relationships.

How To Navigate The Age Of Information Overwhelm: The LYT Solution

After learning about the struggles people are looking to solve when coming to LYT, we learned Nick Milo's solution to navigating the age of information overwhelm.

Nick Milo believes that at its core, our PKM system should help us navigate the Ideaverse, the entire universe of ideas that exists between you and every place you think. It consists of the connections between your brain, your body, and every place you walk by. Importantly, your ideaverse includes not just your second brain but your environment and first brain too.

This concept borrows from ideas in Anne Murphie Paul's book, The Extended Mind

Sometimes while navigating our Ideaverse, we encounter something interesting and want to note it.

The framework that encapsulates how we do so is ARC, which stands for add, relate, communicate.

You can call this process anything you want, the knowledge process, the creative process, the coolio process.

The point is that when we encounter an interesting idea in our idea verse, we add through any of the action words mentioned above, then relate it to old ideas, and finally communicate it.

[!caution] The BIG problem of PKM today is we are spending too much time in the add portion of the ARC framework and not enough time in the relate and communicate portion.

That's why Nick's solution involves spending more time in the relationship and communicating portions of the framework, where we do our best thinking. To do this, he asked us to audit our use of the ARC framework inside of the Ideaverse. Here are my responses:

My Answers To The Questions:

  1. I'm encountering things that spark through newsletters, YouTube videos, conversations, books, articles, podcasts, and my own second brain.
  2. I want to learn more about Obsidian PKM, memory, relationship psychology, philosophy, flow theory, decision-making, flow, storytelling, and online business creation.
  3. My natural thinking style is more architectural. I create individual notes, but every time I have created a Map of Content, it gives me tremendous clarity.
  4. I'm communicating YouTube videos, newsletters, blog posts, and podcasts.

My biggest problem is in the relating stage. I don't spend as much time connecting notes or mapping them as I would like.

To clarify how to do more relating, Nick Milo puts forth another framework he calls Idea Emergence, the process through which ideas emerge in your PKM system, specifically in the related stage of ARC.

At its most simple idea emergence is the act of taking individual notes that later get combined into maps, which get added to a home note.

There are six steps to growing your Ideaverse through idea emergence:

  1. Encounter something and say, "That's interesting."
  2. Create a note out of that thing and connect it to other notes through notemaking
  3. Do this 100 times.
  4. When you hit a Mental squeeze point gather relevant notes into a MOC.
  5. Create a home note to navigate your Obsidian database
  6. Every step of the way, fly around your Ideaverse, exploring your curiosities and wonders.

I hit a lot of terms at you there, so let me define some of them.

Sensemaking is the continual process through which we make sense of the world. Notemaking is the intentional process of sensemaking through externalizing thoughts, feelings, and sensations to make more sense of it. Through notemaking, we make the invisible visible. After enough note-making, we will eventually reach a mental squeeze point, the point at which the degree of notes in our system becomes overwhelming, and we feel we must organize it somehow.

Then we create a MOC, a coagulation of many smaller notes.

  • MOCs are spaces to gather, develop, & navigate ideas.
  • How are MOCs similar/different to "indexes"? They are active notes where you can do the majority of your sensemaking efforts.

By implementing this framework into our PKM efforts, we can immediately improve how we swim in the sea of information.

We can create a Personal Knowledge Management System that solves all the problems mentioned earlier on. We can have a PKM system that allows us to do our best thinking. We can feel clarity in the age of information overwhelm.

What A First Week!

So that's been the first week of the LYT Workshop.

I have loved the experience so far and found it deeply insightful, even after being in the PKM space for over two years. I look forward to sharing what I learn over the next few weeks.

If you would like to learn more about how to create MOCs check out my 5 Simple Levels To Supercharging Your Learning With MOCs In Obsidian.

Here's what I would like to share this week.

📸News From The Channel!

📺Latest On De YouTube - Why You Need To Study BOTH Western And Eastern Philosophy: As a kid, I was taught history wrong. My viewpoint was predominantly Western until I learned that true wisdom lies in combining Eastern and Western philosophies. In this video, I explore how integrating the two can lead to a more wise life.

🎙️Latest On De Podcast - E20 Bob Doto: How Spirituality And Creative Insight Connects With The Zettelkasten Method of Notetaking: Bob Doto, for the past 20 years, has worked with writers, spiritual aspirants, yogis, teachers, knowledge workers, teaching courses on Zettelkasten, PKM, social media, and spirituality. He is a past mentor on Building a Second Brain. Bob has been blogging since 2003 and publishing zines on and off since the early 90s. He's the author of four books and writes a newsletter called the High Pony which features weekly insights on the creative process, spiritual practice, personal knowledge management, and productivity. In this podcast, you will learn the following:

  • How spirituality connects with PKM and The Zettelkasten method of notetaking
  • How to overcome the two biggest problems of starting in PKM
  • How to use your PKM system for creative insight

✍️Latest On De Blog - 9-Step Guide to Memorizing Your Obsidian Book Insights Using Memory Palaces: What if you could download your second brain into your first brain? In the Obsidian community, people think building our second brains through taking notes, making links, and creating MOCs will also grow our first brains. But if we want to remember insights from books years later, we need to memorize them with memory palaces.

💡My Best Insights:

📖Book - The Taoh Of Pooh: What if I told you Winnie The Pooh Exemplifies the Ancient Chinese Philosophy of Taoism. Read how in this book by Benjamin Hoff. You'll see how while:

  • Rabbit represents knowledge for cleverness' sake.
  • Owl represents knowledge for the sake of being seemingly wise
  • Piglet represents knowledge for the sake of hesitating
  • Eyeore represents knowledge for the sake of complaining
  • Tigger represents knowledge for the sake of undue confidence

Pooh Just Is.

🎙️Podcast - Ep. 238 — the Joys of the Reading Life: Our brains didn’t evolve to read. Reading long-form books, therefore, literally requires us to change our brains. Reading short form content on your phone doesn't create the same synaptic connections required for deep reading. So, to start a deep reading habit, you must treat it like building any other skill. In this podcast, Cal Newport discusses the joys of the reading life and how you can start building one for your own.

📺YouTube Video - Awakening From The Meaning Crisis The Lecture Series: This 51 epic lecture series explores why we are experiencing a meaning crisis in modern society. John Vervaeke argues the meaning of crisis is interdependent with the environmental, mental health, and socio-economic crises happening at the same time. I'm currently on episode 17 and loving it so much that I watch an hour-long lecture every single day. In just these 17 episodes, I have better understood how I can cultivate more meaning in my life as well as help others. This is the best lecture series I have ever watched. If you care about being a more realized, empathetic, multifaceted human being, GO WATCH IT NOW!

If you liked this newsletter post, sign up to Aidan's Infinite Play to get a newsletter every Sunday on:

  • A personal essay targeted towards college students in the realm of gamification, relationship psychology, or Obsidian Personal Knowledge Management
  • A curated list of everything that has come out on my content channels
  • A curated list of my coolest learnings over the past week

In addition, consider checking out my digital notetaking course Obsidian University to help students like you build a notetaking system that compounds your school learning across semesters.