For the past eight years I've toyed with setting up a newsletter that would let me share ideas as I created things. The newsletter would automagically consolidate content that I was creating throughout each week. Every time I saw my daughter Mia (seated at the window below) reading, the feeling of writing a newsletter bubbled to the surface. This urge has stuck with me for nearly a decade.
In 2020, having a newsletter became an imperative because in that year I noticed a major fracture in the online spaces where I spent most of my time. The American Presidential election caused a lot of this fracturing. In early 2020, it became more difficult for me to read things written by people I trusted because the social networks we used had become congested with political diatribes, advertising, and click bait. Those things drove me away from online coffee chat I once used throughout the day.
I started paying to read words I trusted.
To counter all this turmoil in my online life, I increased the number of my online subscriptions to broadsheets, freelancers, podcasters, and young animators. And as I started paying for high quality information, I thought I should probably lean into the same publishing platforms that my friends were using. Instead, I just leaned back and read and listened to the paid content.
This was never going to end well because with 13 paid channels to dip into every day, I would never do more than read and listen to people I trusted. At the very least, I needed to save snippets of the content so I could cross-reference ideas as they percolated into my thought space. I needed a Second Brain.
Building a Second Brain
At the turn of the century, I used AskSam to save content in a flat text system. That worked well but my main storage location was actually my blog and that extends back to 1997 in a crude content management system.
A year after the iPhone appeared, I started using Evernote to save snippets. The folder structure of Evernote seemed to be a separate information architecture from SkyDrive so I let Evernote fade away and went all-in with SkyDrive as it became OneDrive. I use OneDrive as my primary storage location now with files in both a personal account and a company account. To be effective, my Second Brain needs to be smart enough to politely save important things without asking and then be able to show those important things when asked. This is a digital transformation process that I plan to share with university students through online conversations and in-person studio sessions for the rest of my life.
You have found the first sign of this process by reading this short post. By subscribing to topgold.ie you'll be able to follow my journey as I share written thoughts, spoken commentary, and short video clips that I've made throughout my 30 years of creating and sharing.
[Bernie @topgold Goldbach teaches creative leadership and digital transformation for the Technological University of the Shannon.]