“DO YouR OwN resEarCH” as they say since the start of the pandemic. I have been. My #1 source for all COVID-19 related news has been from The New York Times. I remember throughout the early pandemic, I was doing research all day while I worked from home. I was learning all sorts of things about epidemiology, viruses, pandemics, you name it. It felt amazing to be learning all this stuff. I was in school for MBA, but things are totally different when you are learning for fun.

I have always been an incredibly curious person. I used to dive from hobby to hobby (well maybe I still do) very quickly. Before, I think it was some form of GAS (gear acquisition syndrome). Now, I try to avoid spending money. The last two hobbies I have picked up (game development and personal knowledge management) have utilized free tools. I am really hoping to keep my costs down over the next year since I never seem to know when I will get bored of something.

I mentioned personal knowledge management (PKM) earlier… so you may be wondering what the heck is it? Well, according to Wikipedia: process of collecting information that a person uses to gather, classify, store, search, retrieve and share knowledge in their daily activities and the way in which these processes support work activities.

I have found this tool called Obsidian which has been working out very well so far. Essentially what you do is you write… a lot… of everything? You write daily journals, you write notes of (sometimes obscure) topics you think about, and so on. While you write, you tag, link up notes, and earmark future notes. Eventually you will hit a mental squeeze point when you have too many notes just floating in the ether and feel overwhelmed by the weight of it. What do you do next? You create a map of content which will help you link all of it together. When you do this, you map out and connect islands of notes to a much larger collective.

Essentially, you’re building a second brain that will exist in digitally. This brain is similar to a personal wiki that will be constantly in a state of unfinished, but constantly growing.

OK, so now you might ask, what exactly are you doing this for? What does this wiki or Obsidian or whatever do for you? What do you get out of it? Well for me, encourages me to plant this knowledge somewhere first of all. I have all of these thoughts that are just in my mind, but completely unrefined. Eventually I want to write a book. Or more. I want to write all the time. I want my browse sessions which find tons of information and increase their permanance in my brain. I want to be able to reference back to my sources if needed.

If you’ve made it this far, you might be thinking “you’ve said a lot of words, but not how this really works.” Honestly, I think the easiest way is to get started. But I must forewarn you, that this is not for the casual dabbler. I would suggest you start by looking at what tools you’re using to catalog notes, journals, or anything really in your life. If you are unsatisfied, a PKM might be for you.

Obsidian is a tool that does a lot of the heavy lifting. But, sites like Linking Your Thinking’s YouTube channel can really guide you on the tools and more importantly the mindset needed to make Obsidian work for you. Here is the video that got me started down my latest rabbit hole hobby.

I think I have certainly felt this tool help me unleash my mind. I am writing way more. I have written way more in the past two days (for fun) than I have in the last 2 years combined. I normally never would attribute the tool for doing this, but that certainly seems the case given the evidence.