Obsidian Zettelkasten

74 - Creation of Knowledge - There are two different ways I think about the creation of knowledge, a private and public way.

The first is the private creation of knowledge, which is essentially learning. It means taking information and going through the memory process, which turns it into knowledge. This can be done on a shallow level, which is necessary but not sufficient (spin off into 17b1 #todo). In contrast, when done correctly, you are going one step further and structure building with the information.

The second way is the public creation of knowledge, which encompasses cutting edge research and the remixing/rethinking of ideas. The remixing of ideas can take the form of synthesizing existing knowledge (e.g. Ryan Holiday’s Notebox, Mark Manson, etc - what I’d call the remix genre) or reformulation of existing knowledge. The later is typically done in educational settings, with articles and blog posts.

Creation of knowledge is on of the pillars that cognitive skills (17f) are geared towards (e.g. critical, creative, and three dimensional thinking - 10e5).

75 - The Knowledge Cycle is the process by which you taking in new knowledge and let it interact with your existing knowledge base in order to create new knowledge.

The dark circles represent the new knowledge you come across through reading a broad selection of books (or exposing yourself to a broad set of information). You then let it interacts with your prior knowledge (red arrow of expertise, 18c) to help you come up with new ideas and solve novel problems. See lateral thinking #todo

The transparency of the circles reflects the idea that you dive into various ideas at different levels. Sometimes you may go deep in learning a concept, other times you’ll stick to just getting a surface level understanding.

76 - Prior Knowledge is the information you have personally turned into knowledge through a lifetime of learning. It is the knowledge you use for creative problem solving with the knowledge cycle. There are two paths of acquisition for prior knowledge, represented below by A and B.

This web represents the body of knowledge out there.

The first pathway A involves specializing, working your way towards the edge of the current body of knowledge before working on expanding it (research, theorizing, etc).

The second pathway B is the process of starting from the basics in every area of knowledge and slowly expanding your knowledge base. This is essentially what a generalist would do. This is what Farnam Street calls “most useful knowledge is a broad-based multidisciplinary education of the basics”. It is the approach you take until you get to college and start to specialize.

Prior Knowledge in Public Information

What a valuable and thought-provoking piece of work you’re offering. Too much to take in all at once, but then that is a good thing. Thanks for your time and your careful thought.


78 - Cognition - is the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses (Oxford Dictionary).

Create Note on Sensory Experience

79 - Cognitive Skills - An important part of thriving in the economy is having an understanding of cognition and the important skills that underly it. Having a solid understanding of the cognitive skills will help you improve in how you work with existing knowledge and generate new knowledge

80 - Attention Abilities - Improving your ability to pay attention helps with knowledge work because it allows you to focus for a longer period of time. Which is necessary for the deep work that is most valuable. One way to improve your attention is through memorizing a deck of cards using a memory palace technique (Newport 2016, pg 97). This comes from the study of memory champions and looking into if they have improved memory over the average person. Turns out that they do not and a large part of their success comes down to their superb attention abilities.

81 - Forming Knowledge - To work with knowledge, you first must form information in your mind . While this may seem quite obvious to you, there are good and bad ways of doing this. Improving this skill will help you learn quicker and form a more useful understanding of the world.

You want to avoid rote memorization, going for precision memorization (19d2a) instead. Then you want to organize the memorized information into a useful working mental model.

See also 17b - Creation of Knowledge

19d2a - Precision Memorization #todo

82 - Durable Memories - The knowledge you are forming and working with (17c) is stored in your brain as memories. You can learn more effectively by making sure information is well encoded while learning with the use of effortful processing strategies.

  • 19d3a - Effortful Processing Strategies #todo

83 - Good Judgment - Developing good [judgment] can help you better evaluate the existing evidence, which helps in choosing the right solution in problem solving.

One way to develop better judgment is through forecasting training courses. See the work of Danny Hernandez during his time at Twitch, Open Philanthropy, and OpenAI. For more information see related interview with him.

  • 19d4a - Judgment #todo

84 - Good Reasoning - Good [reasoning] skills help you form more coherent arguments and spot flaws with existing ones. This in turn helps you form a more accurate view of the world, so you can make better decisions.

Related - Critical Thinking (19b1)

19d5a - Reasoning

85 - Problem Solving is one of the key ways you can add value to the world. It is the process where all the other cognitive skills come to fruition and is the driving focus behind Creative Productivity Project. It is an important skill to have even if you aren’t directly solving problems and instead contributing to the knowledge base.

86 - Decision Making - You are constantly making decisions, so honing your decision making skills can help you make better use of your time and efforts in life. One example of this is deciding what knowledge is worth acquiring vs. ignoring.

87 - Communication and Production of Language - is the last step in the creative productivity project because it doesn’t matter how much knowledge you produce if you can’t effective communicate it to others. This is also necessary for gathering the resources (labor, knowledge, technology) needed to act on your new knowledge to the betterment of all. The better you can do this, the more effective you will be in the world.

88 - "Thinking is cognitive behavior in which ideas, images, mental representations, or other hypothetical elements of thought are experienced or manipulated." In this sense, thinking includes imagining, remembering, problem solving, daydreaming, free association, concept formation, and many other processes.

Thinking may be said to have two defining characteristics:

  • (a) It is covert—that is, it is not directly observable but must be inferred from actions or self-reports
  • (b) it is symbolic—that is, it seems to involve operations on mental symbols or representations, the nature of which remains obscure and controversial (see symbolic process)."

Source: American Psychological Association Dictionary

  • 19b1 - Different approaches to thinking (e.g. psychological, biological, etc - see Spreading Activation)
  • 19b3 - Critical Thinking
  • 19b4 - Creative Thinking
  • 19b5 - Thinking 3 Dimensionally

89 - Types of Thinking - why try to understand the different types of thinking? What are the different types of thinking?

Note to Self be careful about a lot of this not having much research behind it. Pop Psychology in a sense. Think of the lack of evidence for “power poses”, “myers-briggs tests”, and “learning styles”.

  • 19b3 - Critical Thinking
  • 19b4 - Creative Thinking
  • 19b5 - Thinking 3 Dimensionally
  • Metacognition
  • Thinking Fast - Thinking, Fast and Slow by Kahneman
  • Thinking Slow - Thinking, Fast and Slow by Kahneman

Evaluate Research On

Lateral Thinking (might be BS), Cross Thinking, Analogical Thinking, Abstract Thinking, Divergent Thinking, Convergent Thinking, Concrete Thinking, Sequential Thinking, Holistic (nonlinear) Thinking, Conceptual Thinking

90 - Cross Thinking is the ability to see patterns (20e) in thinking and conceptualization (10d1). Then connecting how you can apply concepts across domains. Two examples are:

  • Story of applying ecological extinction patterns to business extinction patterns to come to the insight that planning the future is impossible, from Adapt: Success starts with Failure

  • David Kilcullen using evolution terminology and thinking in the context of adaptive behavior of terrorists and adversaries in warfare. See his 2020 book Dragon and the Snakes

  • Information Processing Theory emerging out of the study of Computers, whereby the mind is equated with a computer. As they both are information processing machines.

91 - Three Dimensional Thinking is is applying a latticework (20d) of mental models to a problem or situation in order to get a better picture of reality.

Find a good example of multiple mental models intersecting to solve a problem #todo

92 - Structure is the arrangement of and relations between the parts or elements of something complex (Oxford Dictionary).

“Common types of structure include hierarchies (a cascade of one-to-many relationships), a networks featuring many-to-many links, or latticeworks featuring connections between components that are neighbors in space” - Wikipedia.

The key idea to understand about structure is that it allows for order, which in turn leads to repeatability. Everything is meaningless without repeatability. Mathematics is the language of patterns, which are themselves are connections that repeat.

Further Research:

  • Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies
  • The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect

  • 20a - Links are explicit navigable connections
  • 20b - Hierarchies
  • 20c - Networks
  • 20d - Latticeworks
  • 20e - Patterns
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93 - Layers of Structure in a Digital Zettelkasten - When you build a zettelkasten you are adding layers of structure to facilitate note retireval.

  • The first layer of structure is having a single storage mechanism. In this case it is plain text files using markdown syntax. The reason for this is it helps makes your notes future proof. Luhmann used his zettelkastens over a 46 year period, so you want something that lasts the test of time.

  • The second layer of structure for a digital zettelkasten is having a single storage location. I’ve been somewhat bad at that because I’ve been experimenting with programs. I’ve been slowly working on coalescing all my notes into one program.

  • Third layer of structure I use is having my notes in Dropbox. Reason for this is that it keeps a copy of my zettelkasten in multiple locations in case of disaster.

  • Fourth layer of structure is having a unique identifier for each note, which means giving each file a unique name. This can take the form of a unique filename, a time ID + filename, or a luhmann ID (which is what this zettelkasten uses). For my Obsidian zettelkasten, I use a combination of time IDs and time IDs + filename.

  • Fifth layer of structure is I try to keep to keep my note sizes between 1-3 paragraphs. This keeps you from getting confused when linking between notes and makes a note easy to comprehend. Ideally this would also mean you learn to be concise with your writing.

  • Sixth layer of structure is what I call note sequences #todo

  • Seventh layer of structure are hubs #todo

  • Eighth layer of structure is the index #todo

1d1 - Obsidian Structure

  • Search
  • Graph View
  • Tags

1d2 - Other Possible Digital Layers

  • Table of Contents
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