DeveloPassion's Newsletter #158 - The Path Forward is Always Yours

Edition 158 of my newsletter, discussing Knowledge Management, Knowledge Work, Zen Productivity, Personal Organization, and more!

DeveloPassion's Newsletter #158 - The Path Forward is Always Yours


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

Hey there! Time for the newsletter of the week. I've been busy with another Carnival this weekend, in the village of Haulchin. Compared to the one in Binche, the vibe was quite different. Haulchin is a tiny village, and while the concept is similar, there's far fewer people involved, and they all know each other. The kids were with me, and they really enjoyed participating. That Carnival also lasted for three days (which is quite long when you think about it!). Now we're all exhausted (again ;p), but it's time to get back to work!

Alright, let's gooooo 🚀

The lab 🧪

I've been hard at work to prepare my new course, "Knowledge Management for Beginners". The content expands as part of my Knowledge Graph, and it's quite cool to see the course come to life, one note at a time. I'm still thinking about how to record it, either in one go, or as short clips, but I'm sure that it will be interesting for newcomers.

I want many more people to grasp Knowledge Management and Personal Knowledge Management in particular, which is why I'm so excited to work on this course. I want to introduce the ideas, concepts, techniques and benefits one at a time, making sure to share everything I know and believe on the topic.

I see so many people around me, not realizing how badly they're missing out, feeling overwhelmed and being so disorganized. Beyond getting organized and bringing clarity into one's life, Personal Knowledge Management is an engine that can be used to explore ideas, learn, think deeply, and move forward, both on a personal and professional level. And the cool part is that there's not that much to know to get started. But to get started, people first have to discover the topic and the possibilities. It goes far beyond the tools, which are nothing more than tools. It's much more about the rationale and approach.

I will hold the hands of my students and guide them through the "fog", helping them to get started and thrive. I surely hope that you'll hop on the train with us and that you'll enjoy the ride!

New articles

This week, I've published another article about Personal Knowledge Management. In it, I discuss some of its benefits around clarity, focus, and how PKM helps amplify the signal in our lives, and dampen the noise:

Amplify the Signal, Not the Noise: The Power of Personal Knowledge Management
In this article, I want to highlight the benefits of Knowledge Management in general, and Personal Knowledge Management in particular when it comes to dampening the noise in our lives and amplifying the signal. Introduction In today’s digital age, we’re inundated with an overwhelming amount of information. This constant stream

Quotes of the week

  • A man with clarity reaches his goal sooner than the man with confidence ― Amit Kalantri, Wealth of Words
  • Nobody is going to pour truth into your brain. It's something you have to find out for yourself – Noam Chomsky
  • Whenever there's something wrong with your writing, suspect that there's something wrong with your thinking – Patricia T. O'Conner, Words Fail Me: What Everyone Who Writes Should Know about Writing

The Path Forward is Always Yours

I've been thinking about this idea for a long time. While your path so far is the result of your past choices, the path that lies in front of you is always yours to decide. Each and every day, you get to make choices that impact your future in various ways.

Worrying about the past does not change anything in a meaningful way. It just takes away mental energy, and revives feelings and emotions that you don't need to move forward. Instead of living in the past, do your best to live in the present, and make decisions that positively impact your future.

Spaced Repetition or PKM?

Some people have asked me whether they should use Spaced Repetition or PKM to improve their capacity to retain and recall information.

Spaced Repetition is a useful technique to fight against the forgetting curve:


But it's not a silver bullet. My opinion is that it's not an either-or proposition. I personally like spaced repetition to help me remember and retrieve information I care about and need to be able to find "in the moment". Although, I really prefer externalizing my knowledge and thinking to Tools for Thought such as Obsidian.

The human brain is a forgetting machine. Memories decay, and it's a real chore to retain information. Moreover, retrieval is never guaranteed. Sometimes you're thinking about someone you know since childhood, and can't seem to recall their name. How safe is it to rely solely on your brain? The advantage of Tools for Thought is clear. If you have a solid backup system in place and use tools that are respectful of your data, then they can safely be used to store your precious knowledge for a lifetime.

My recommendation is to externalize as much as you can, allowing you to forget everything but the most essential knowledge that you need to access regularly and without having to rely on tools. For that (ideally limited) subset, use Spaced Repetition to maximize your chances of remembering what you need, when you need it.

Thinking and learning

I share Andrej Karpathy's opinion about Obsidian. It's my favorite tool for thinking and organizing my knowledge. Do take some time to give it a try. Keeping control over your personal data is important in today's world. And if you're want to take the fast lane, check out the Obsidian Starter Kit and the Obsidian Starter Course.

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 that scalesYou wonder what Zettelkasten, the PARA method, and the Johnny decimal system areYou have bought the Obsidian Starter Kit and want a full video course to help you get startedGetting started with Obsidian is not the hardest thing in the world, but it takes a lot of trial and error to figure out how to structure and organize your knowledge base. You have a busy life, and you don’t want to spend weeks or even months figuring out the “right” approach.What is this?The Obsidian Starter Course is a video course containing 2h20 of content. It’s a hands-on guide into the world of Obsidian, Personal Knowledge Management (PKM), and the Obsidian Starter Kit.Many of the explanations use the Obsidian Starter Kit’s vault/structure/plugins, but the explanations about Personal Knowledge Management (PKM), Markdown, YAML and recommendations can be applied to many other tools. Moreover, if you’re using Obsidian but don’t yet have a copy of the Obsidian Starter Kit, then this course is still incredibly useful. It will show you how you can organize your knowledge base, how to take smart notes, and much more!What’s in the video course?The Obsidian Starter Course covers the following topics:Obsidian: installation, user interface, key features, plugins, automation, tips and tricks, etcThe Markdown syntaxYAML metadataPersonal Knowledge Management techniques and principles: the Johnny Decimal system, the PARA method (e.g., the Zettelkasten method, the LIFT principle, Atomic notes, Maps of Content, knowledge capture & extraction, etc)JournalingPeriodic reviewsTemplatesAutomationTask managementBest practices and recommendationsHands-on explanationsand more!Refunds policyIf you’re not 100% satisfied, then just let me know, and I’ll issue a full refund. I’ll only ask you a single question: How can I improve the product?If you think about asking for a refund, then consider reaching out to me with your issues, questions, and remarks. I’m always available and happy to help. My goal is to help you succeed.

Some people seem to think that Obsidian is only for power users, but although it is deeply customizable and extensible, it isn't hard to get started. You can start simple, with a single vault, no plugins and a basic folder structure, and go further when you need to.

Obsidian has support for creating neat visualizations through its Canvas feature:

Obsidian Canvas - Visualize your ideas
Obsidian Canvas gives you infinite space to research, brainstorm, diagram, and lay out your ideas.

Given its top-notch integration with my knowledge graph, it has now become my favorite tool for thinking visually (apart from paper, which remains the most versatile solution).

Using Obsidian Canvas, you can explore ideas and concepts visually, which is a great way to build better mental models. I use it while learning new things, to explain ideas, to create mind maps (e.g., for my upcoming Knowledge Management course), and to summarize information.

To get a feel of what you can do with it, check out Sergio's video:

Taking smart notes is a valuable skill for PhD students, as it enables going to the bottom of things and connecting ideas, going from first principles to the most advanced concepts. It's something that I've said quite a lot recently, but Tools for Thought such as Obsidian are great to connect the docs, store information in a useful way, and build up valuable Knowledge Graphs. Using those tools, you can not only take notes, but assemble much longer pieces, such as a PhD thesis or even a book.

Martin Adams has shared nice videos discussing this: