Aidan's Infinite Play 38 How To Do Bottom-Up Vs. Top Down Thinking LYT 11 Part 2

Aidan's Infinite Play 38 How To Do Bottom-Up Vs. Top Down Thinking LYT 11 Part 2

Hello players!

I finished the second week of Linking Your Thinking Workshop 11!

For those who 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. During the second week we:

  • Learned how to think bottom up
  • Learned how to think top down

If you didn't read the post I created on the first week of the workshop, I would recommend checking that out before diving into this one.

In it, I describe how in 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

Bottom Up Vs. Top Down Thinking

This second week, we dove deep into the difference between bottom-up and top-down thinking and the methods for engaging in each.

Bottom-up thinking involves taking notes at the individual level, relating them to old notes, and then growing them over time to create something entirely new. Top-down thinking involves combining individual notes into a MOC or a project. It's important to distinguish between the two types of thinking because people differ on which type of thinking they like more, and the methods to do each are very different.

Bottom Up Thinking

In the first week, we learned that people who like bottom-up thinking are called gardeners.

Gardeners enjoy taking notes at the individual level and growing them over time to make new ideas. They don't like being beholden to a rigid structure. They enjoy diving into topics before having a complete overview of them.

Before joining LYT, I thought I was a gardener.

But after taking the PKM planet survey during the first week., I realized I was actually more of an architect, someone that leans toward top-down thinking:

This was very important for me to realize because first, it meant I needed to return all of the gardening tools I had bought from Amazon, and second, I could now go up to people at college and tell them smugly, I'm an architect major, what about you?

In all seriousness, it's important because it means I should be doing more top-down thinking rather than bottom-up thinking.

During my whole time using Obsidian, I have tried to force myself to bottom-up think because one of the main gimicks of the app is the ability to link notes from the bottom-up level and grow them over time.

Now I realize I shouldn't force myself into a thinking style that doesn't resonate with me.

Methods For Bottom-Up Thinking

Even though I'm more naturally a top-down thinker, it's still very important to be able to bottom-up think, so I still tried out the methods Nick Milo discusses for doing so.

He taught us three methods for bottom-up thinking:

  • RRR
  • The NoMa Method
  • The 7 C's Of Notemaking

While all of these methods are useful, I found RRR the most simple and widely applicable, so it's the one I'm going to discuss right now.

RRR is super simple.

It stands for Remark, Relate, Reference.

The idea is when you take an individual note, you remark about the note topic, relate it to a different note, and reference where you got the original idea from.

Here's an example note I made a few days ago, which shows each of these parts in order.

Honestly, if RRR was the only method you used to take bottom-up notes, you would probably be good.

It's incredibly simple and easy.

However, if you want to learn more methods for taking notes outside of LYT, I suggest you check out my post, 6 Simple Methods For Creating And Growing Your Concept Notes In Obsidian.

Top Down Thinking

Because I'm an architect, I'm more prone to top-down thinking, combining individual notes into a MOC or a project.

I think this is because, as a content creator, many of my notes get turned into videos, blog posts, newsletters (like this one), and podcasts which act as projects for my notes.

When should you top-down think?

Nick Milo explained that top-down thinking is a good idea when you hit a mental squeeze point, the point at which the unorganized nature of a group of information gets so great that you have to do some organization. We wait until we hit a mental squeeze point because we must earn organization. We don't want organization to become a form of procrastination in itself.

So we organize just in time rather than just in case.

Methods For Top-Down Thinking

In the course, Nick Milo explained the step-by-step process for creating a MOC.

I have already written about the process in one of my blog posts, so check it out if you would like to learn more:

Using this process, I created MOCs out of two subjects I have been passionate about for years but never took the time to assemble my notes on. First was lifestyle design, the art of creating and adapting your life to resonate with you. The second was spirituality. You can check out the two MOCs on my Obsidian publish site:

Bottom-Up And Top-Down Thinking

Both bottom-up and top-down thinking are necessary to build a healthy PKM system.

By learning how to do both more clearly in the second week of LYT 11, I, and everyone else on the course, will be able to create a much better PKM system.

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

📸News From The Channel!

📺Latest On De YouTube - The Notetaking Mindsets of The New Student Era: Notetaking as a student is forever changing in the age of AI and the Internet. In this video, I will explain how YOU can learn to take better notes by understanding the mindsets of the New Era Student.

🎙️Latest On De Podcast - E21 Josh Duffney: When Zettelkasten Notetaking In Obsidian Fails...: Josh Duffney is a software engineer, writer, and speaker as well as the author of How to Take Smart Notes in Obsidian and Become Ansible. He records YouTube videos about technology, productivity, and personal knowledge management. In this podcast, you will learn:

  • Why the Zettelkasten notetaking system can fail...
  • How to take dumb notes over smart notes
  • How AI will change notetaking

💡My Best Insights:

📖Book - 1984: Imagine a world where your every action, every facial expression, everything you do is meticulously monitored to make sure you aren't planning to resist the evil totalitarian regime controlling your society, Ignsoc. A world in which everything that makes us human, independent thought, love, and spontaneity are taken away. Take this and a bit of spice, and you have 1984, one of the great classics of literature. Orwell's book makes us question what it means to be human, the nature of love and hate, power, and the value of independent thought. I strongly recommend everyone read this book, but I warn you, once you start, you won't be able to put it down.

✍️Blog Post - How to Summarize Books Using ChatGPT: 7 Experiments in AI Distillation: In this fascinating article, Tiago Forte sets forth to see if ChatGPT can write a book summary that rivals his own. He starts by simply asking it to write a summary of a book in different ways and then slowly get's more and more personal with his requests by asking it to summarize his highlights from the book. Here are the four conclusions he took away:

  • Providing ChatGPT with well-organized excerpts greatly improves its ability to provide summaries.
  • The challenge is condensing the excerpts to fit within the context window, but upcoming improvements will allow for larger text input.
  • ChatGPT cannot generate "surprising" or "counterintuitive" explanations due to its training limitations, resulting in the use of those words without delivering the intended effect.
  • ChatGPT tends to lean towards clichés, so it requires creative approaches to deviate from common paths.

In sum, reading books remains valuable despite AI advancements as it's enjoyable, and humans are still better than AI at connecting disparate ideas together to make something entirely new and insightful.

🎙️Podcast - Awakening From The Meaning Crisis John Vervaeke: In this fascinating podcast, Scott Barry Kaufman, author of Transcend, speaks with John Vervaeke, creator of the incredible Awakening From The Meaning Crisis Lecture Series on YouTube. John discusses that we are experiencing a modern-day meaning crisis. John states meaning comprises three things:

  • Coherence: feeling you are in an agent arena relationship that makes sense to you. Your perspective on the world fits with reality.
  • Mattering: a sense of being connected to a reality that has meaning beyond your existence.
  • Purpose: I still am not clear on the difference between this and mattering, but trying to discover it.

John and Koffman argue that one of the biggest reasons we have a meaning crisis in the modern day and a mental health crisis is the lack of these three things. We lack a widespread, systematic framework for cultivating wisdom, especially in the West. We confuse the having mode with the being mode, as Eric Fromm stated. We confuse meaning with possessions, achievements, or even quality relationships. Many confuse intelligence with wisdom—ignorance with foolhardiness. Ignorance is a lack of knowledge; foolhardiness is a lack of wisdom. Wisdom doesn't take part at the level of knowledge but at the level of the ways we perceive the world.

📺YouTube Video -The Social Animal David Brooks Talks at Google: David Brooks gives a talk at Google on his fantastic book, The Social Animal, which I'm currently reading. Aside from it being incredibly funny, David summarizes the main three themes of the book, which are:

  1. We have a rich unconscious life
  2. Emotion is necessary for effective reasoning. But we live in a world that values quantifiable metrics, so we prioritize SAT scores, GPA, and IQ rather than discussions about character and how to foster it.
  3. We live in a deeply social world. Our relationships affect our cognition.

In modern society, we have the concepts of Ancient Greece, like virtue, morality, and honor, but we don't have a system to connect them.

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.