I’ve heard a lot of tools tout themselves as a second-brain. It’s a brilliant idea and a highly valuable proposition.
I’m pretty sure that Evernote started pitching this elegant concept as a feature.
This messaging has been so strong, reinforced by numerous Evernote-like apps and an army of productivity gurus, that it has formed a robust mental model that a “second-brain” necessarily implies a proprietary note-taking app.
I, however, want to propose a contrarian view.
My alternative view is not formed entirely of my thinking but instead triggered by observing Dave Winer’s approach to blogging over several decades. He’s a prolific and diverse thinker, and his thought seems to quickly and reasonably freely make way to his blog. Equally important to this contrarian view is his practice of routinely (obviously searching) and referencing or cross-referencing his blog posts.
Winer’s approach is unquestionably a second-brain model, and in my thinking, an open repository of ideas generates far more long-term value than a closed one.
If this is interesting to you, come along and help me think through my implementation of this open-source “second brain” model.
Writing is Thinking
I think success in this approach starts with the belief that writing is an effective way to think through things.
This same concept extends to other content mediums, like podcasting and video. But, I still think that the freest form of thinking is the speed and efficiency of writing.
Blogging is Documenting Your Thinking
The closed, Evernote-like, model is adequate for writing and thinking. However, you’re missing the opportunity for peer review, and collaboration and even more significant are the potential business opportunities generated by this sort of content.
If you’re willing to bring your thinking into a public space, one important consideration is what, if any, refinements should you make to your writing before publishing?
One pretty simple, but powerful model is the one presented by Anne-Laure Le Cunff on Ness Labs, You and your mind garden. In this framework, you might continue to use something like Roam, Notion, or even Evernote to collect, curate, and collate ideas. From here you refine and publish a relatively simple, singular concept (like this post) into your digital garden.
I still like calling this construct a blog :-)
The next step in Le Cunuff’s model is the essay. I love that she extended her process into longer, more considered writing. I think this is a critical step in extracting and providing to your community the full value of your learning, thinking, and content creation.
Paul Graham is one of my favorite web essayists.
I love this peek into his process.
Therefore, Your Blog Should Be Your Second-Brain
A blog built on a structured framework of public thinking can generate enormous personal and professional value and growth. It will compel you to learn in a more purposeful and attentive manner. It will encourage you to refine and extend what you learn, introducing it into your own personal and professional contributions.
Ultimately, your community and network will grow and enrich you.
Yes, that does include money and that’s okay ;-)
Don’t Forget to Search Your Second Brain First
Before I depart this thought, I think it is important to remind you that if you embrace this concept of a blog as your second brain - don’t forget to search your blog first. You’ll be amazed at the number of connections and nodes you find buried in your blog. Keep seeding and reseeding and your influence and community are sure to grow.