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My experience with «Building a Second Brain» #1

Last fall, I participated in the online course «Building a Second Brain«, or «BASB». For five weeks, everything revolved around an externalized, networked memory and various methods of building one’s «Second Brain».

I will present what I learned in this course and how I built and structured my » crosslinked memory» in a series of articles in the next few weeks and round it off with an online pilot course at the end of May.

Almost a year ago I came across the website Forte Labs ( In loose order, I became interested in Tiago Forte’s content. I read individual blogposts, watched recordings on YouTube, discovered podcasts and at some point I came across the article series «The P.A.R.A. Method

This series of articles introduced me to a method of using note-taking apps and a data repository side by side and interconnecting the ideas, insights, and research they contain. A central aspect of the personal «Second Brain» is that it is created outside of one’s own head. It is only through this externalization of personal knowledge that the digital memory acquires a power of knowledge that resembles a «Zettelkasten-System» (N. Luhmann) and, thanks to digital tools, perhaps even goes beyond it in its creativity and sustainability.

Here is a reflection I recorded during BASB 11.

What is Building A Second Brain?

Building A Second Brain (BASB) is a method for systematically storing ideas, insights, and networks gained through one’s experiences, which can be retrieved at any time. In short, BASB enhances our memory with the help of modern digital tools and networks.

The core idea is that you shift your ideas, insights and interconnections to the «Second Brain» and thereby free your biological brain to think freely, give free scope to your creativity or simply be in the moment. With a «Second Brain» you can move through everyday life and trust that you have everything important with you at all times.

In other words, the «Building a Second Brain» method promises that one can

  • consistently brings his projects and goals to completion because he organizes and retrieves his knowledge in a results-oriented manner
  • transforms one’s personal knowledge into a networked memory and thus reaps the benefits of personal knowledge management
  • Reduce personal stress by expertly curating and managing your personal information flow
  • has his valuable expertise, specialized knowledge and skills at hand and ready to use in a new challenge or job
  • discovers unexpected patterns and connections among his ideas
  • cultivated a collection of valuable knowledge and insights over time
  • unlocks the full value of diverse learning resources around him or her, such as online courses, webinars, documentaries, books, articles, forums, or podcasts.

The method consists of three basic steps: collecting ideas and insights, interconnecting these ideas and insights, and creating concrete results.

Collect: The first step in building a Second Brain is to «collect» the ideas and insights that are important or interesting enough to capture.

Interconnect: Once you have begun to collect your personal knowledge in a structured way, you will begin to see patterns and connections between ideas and insights.

Creating: All the capturing, summarizing, connecting, and structuring have the ultimate goal: to create concrete results in the real world.

In the next blog post, I’ll detail these three steps and supplement them with examples from my personal Second Brain.