Episode 119 of The Informed Life podcast features a conversation with Aidan Helfant. Aidan is a student at Cornell University, and he’s exploring how personal knowledge management (PKM) can help with his studies. He’s also sharing what he learns through his YouTube channel, newsletter, and blog.
Aidan came to PKM via his love for games. In managing personal information, he recognizes a “core gameplay loop” analogous to those in games: “collect information, relate it together, and then create things out of it.” His system builds on zettelkasten with modifications to make it more applicable to his particular use cases. The goal is to enable bottom-up connections between ideas. As he put it, citing a favorite quote,
there are no rigid disciplines in the universe, only concepts. Biology, anthropology, statistics, mathematics, computer science — they’re all highly related concepts connected together. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t take a concept from one area and connect it to a concept from another.
A connected note-taking system makes it possible to connect ideas between courses and over semesters. It also enables reflection and facilitates further sharing. The tools to work in this way are readily available, and hearing Aidan discuss his approach was inspiring. I hope you get as much value from our conversation as I did.