DeveloPassion's Newsletter #136 - New Course

Edition 136 of my newsletter, discussing Knowledge Management, Knowledge Work, Zen Productivity, Personal Organization, and more!

DeveloPassion's Newsletter #136 - New Course


Another week, another newsletter! I hope that you all had a great one 🤩

This week marks the end of the vacation period for the kids here in Belgium. A part of me is sad, but the other cannot wait. When kids go back to school, parents usually get to rest a tiny bit more 😂 (at least that's been my experience, having three.

I have great news to share with you this week!

Alright, let's gooooo 🚀

Journaling ❤️

Journaling has served me well so far. I've been journaling for a number of years, and it has helped me tremendously! I find it valuable (for myself) to capture my journal along with the rest of my notes. I'm able to link everything together and associates notes and journal with time. It's one of the most important commitments in my life, and one that really pushes me forward.

I recommend it to everyone around me, whether for personal development or work. I've shared a number of articles about it already:

Journaling every day is powerful - Part 1: Introduction
Discover journaling and how it can help you live a happier, more fulfilling and more productive life
Journaling every day is powerful - Part 2: Going further
Discover journaling and how it can help you live a happier, more fulfilling and more productive life. Part two

I also strongly recommend journaling to all founders and leaders:

Why and how to approach journaling as a founder
Why and how journaling can supercharge your journey as a founder.

The lab 🧪

A new creation has come out of the lab this week 🎉. After hesitating for a while, I've finally hit the "Record" button and created the Obsidian Starter Course, a 2h+ video course explaining tons of things about Personal Knowledge Management and Obsidian. It took me about a day and a half to prepare (outline, record, edit and publish). And the good news is that it is now available!

This course is great for people getting started with note-taking, Personal Knowledge Management and/or Obsidian. In it, I've also explained how the Obsidian Starter Kit works in great detail, which should help everyone have clear ideas about how to structure their knowledge base. Moreover, I've shared ideas and recommendations about journaling, automation, and more! You can find all the details on the product page:

Obsidian Starter Course
Who is this for?You are just getting started with note-taking or you’ve recently switched to ObsidianYou want to discover Obsidian and its key featuresYou wonder how to take smart notesYou want to know how to properly organize your notes and avoid creating an overwhelming messYou want a solid system…

On launch day, I've already sold 15 copies. I did all I could to make (online) noise about the release:

  • I've created the visuals, the product page on Gumroad, updated the one of the Obsidian Starter Kit
  • I've announced the release on Twitter, LinkedIn, Substack, Slack, Reddit, Polywork, BlueSky, Mastodon, in my communities, etc
  • I've updated
  • I've updated
  • I've offered a discount code to my existing customers
  • ...

This was quite intense, but I got it all done in a few hours. I'm really glad about the launch and how it turned out. So far, the feedback has been really positive. I can't wait for more people to build their own Personal Knowledge Management systems ❤️

This week, I've also updated the IT Concepts Wall multiple times. I've added new resources about software design, team management, project management and best practices around documentation.

New articles

No new articles this week!

Quotes of the week

  • Life is like photography. You need the negatives to develop — Ziad Abdelnour
  • If you manage to have fun when things get really hard, then you are made to be an entrepreneur

Thinking and learning

The following article is quite interesting, but I think that the author focuses too much on the act of thinking, and not enough on the context in which that happens:

Why note-taking apps don’t make us smarter
They’re designed for storage, not sparking insights. Can AI change that?

He is right that PKM / note-taking tools won't magically help us become better thinkers. That can't happen without plugging some kind of device with our brain... But while thinking does happen within our brains, we can use external tools to help. In reality, PKM tools don't have to make us smarter. They simply have to alleviate the burden on our minds, and to help us go faster and/or further than our brains alone can. I believe that they already do, and they don't even need AI to get us there.

Whenever we think about something, we don't start from a blank slate. Our brain loads information from our memory. That information is composed of thoughts, ideas, memories, feelings, etc. Our mind's "whiteboard" is actually a giant patchwork. But we never get to see the whole thing. Instead, we hold a weak "flashlight" that is only able to focus on a few pieces at a time, and only for short durations. We don't see much because our working memory is very limited. Moreover, our shortening attention span leaves us with little time to focus. And if that wasn't enough, our memory is unreliable. Sometimes we can't even retrieve the information that we've "stored" when we need it.

With that in mind (I've helped you create a mental context for our discussion!), it's quite obvious that externalizing (some) of our memory and thinking can be hugely beneficial. It's not about replacing our brain, but about helping it in some way. Note-taking and Personal Knowledge Management tools help because they can be used to:

  • Save/restore our mental contexts
  • Persist information, ideas, knowledge and links between all those
  • Create fully visible "whiteboards" that can support our thinking
  • Let us focus on, explore, and expand specific groups of ideas
  • ...

As Andy Matuschak wisely said:

The goal is not to take notes — the goal is to think effectively — Andy Matuschak

PKM tools such as Obsidian are extensions of our minds. Our brain does the work, but PKM tools assist us. They help alleviate our inherent limitations.

The Idea File of Harold Adams Innis | Chris Aldrich
I am wholly unsurprised that Harold Innis (1894-1952) maintained a card index (zettelkasten) through his research life, but I am pleased to have found that his literary estate has done some work on it and published it as The Idea File of Harold Adams Innis (University of Toronto Press, 1980). The in…
How I take Smart Notes — Nicholas Seitz Photographer
In my attempts to make “smart notes”, I have a long trail of missteps and blunders. Here’s my attempt to learn from them and document what I’ve learned along the way.
Why I Stopped Classifying My Notes (And Why You Should Do the Same)
Forget about tags and folders — Do this instead
Take Useful Notes. Understand Zettelkasten Framework.
A framework for taking smart notes. From Take Useful Notes.
How to create a Map of Content (MOC) using Dataview in Obsidian
One issue with Obsidian that I have found is you can’t see a body of related work all in the one place. A Map of Content can solve this!

Indie Hacking and bootstrapping

Who are the indie hackers to watch in 2023?
Who are you following in the indie hacking world? Share the founders who are building killer products and sharing exactly how they do it. Let’s learn fr…
Expired Domains | Daily Updated Domain Lists for 578 TLDs
Information about Expired Domain Names. Check the Availability of thousands of Expired Domains every day before they Drop and after. Just pick what you like!
Design guidelines for non-designers: Make your product stand out
Back in the day, design wasn’t too big of a deal. As long as the product worked, it didn’t matter that much what it looked like. Products were much more…
Top Growth Strategies for Bootstrapped Startups
SaaS Growth strategies that generate MRR, not just traffic


Revealed: The Authors Whose Pirated Books Are Powering Generative AI
Stephen King, Zadie Smith, and Michael Pollan are among thousands of writers whose copyrighted works are being used to train large language models.
Free AI image generator: Art, Social Media, Marketing | Playground AI
Playground AI is a free-to-use online AI image creator. Use it to create art, social media posts, presentations, posters, videos, logos and more.
“Not a replacement of journalists in any way”: AP clarifies standards around generative AI
One new AP Stylebook entry cautions journalists to avoid “language that attributes human characteristics to these systems.”