2 min read

#2108: What if you could index your brain?

At the back of any good textbook, you'll find an index of key terms and related concepts. Alongside each item will be page numbers where you can quickly find the idea within the book.

But rather than page numbers and a hierarchy, Google—the index of the internet—connects concepts in a graph-like form. Imagine a sphere of ideas where each thought is a node connected to multiple other ideas. For the internet, the connections between ideas are hyperlinks.

Now, what if you could index your brain like Google indexes the internet? Well, there's an app for that.

Could you build a second brain?

Since July, I've been using Roam Research* as a note-taking tool. I was intrigued by the idea of building a second brain.

I hate thinking, "A reminds me of B. Where did I hear about B again?" Using a zettelkasten approach, I can now find B quickly, make the connection, and continue developing any related thoughts.

Smart notes facilitate connections between recurring ideas. Making connections is smoother, and finding previous references, faster.

* Roam has a few drawbacks. Among them, its founders are young (overconfident) which creates a fitting revenue strategy (overpriced). But now that I'm used to it, it's hard to switch. If you're new to PKM software, start with Obsidian. Obsidian is free, more stable, and more secure.

Would it help comprehension?

While I study for my CFA exams, I'm going to post my notes on the textbooks** in a public graph.

As my collection of CFA notes grows, the connections between concepts will strengthen. A significant advantage of an information graph is that strong relationships between ideas are illustrated and easy to see. And the information can be explored both as a hierarchy (in the left-hand sidebar) or from node to node by clicking Roam's [[double-bracketed links]].

** Roam URLs are kinda gobbledegook, so for ease-of-memory, www.cfaskeptic.com will forward to the same page.

Would a graph help creativity?

In the image below, the small blue node at the center of the strings represents my notes on The Almanack of Naval Ravikant. The strings that branch out from that point represent connections to other ideas within my notes.

I liked the almanac, but I was disappointed by the lack of editing (repetition) and slips in organization (repetition). Repetition is annoying.

I've finished my notes and rearrangement for my boiled down version, The PDF of Naval Ravikant. Next, I'm going to combine both into an e-book.

An image of the graph of my ideas in Roam Research.
This is the graph of my notes in Roam Research. The thin blue strings represent the connections between one node (The Almanack of Naval Ravikant) and the connections I've made from it to other ideas in my notes.