EMAIL NUMBER 42
I Have a Lot of Books, Yes, But…
Scott P. Scheper
Downtown San Diego, CA
Friday 8:11 a.m.
I am writing this to you in the morning from my home office (aka, my home library), which is lined with books from floor to ceiling.
Whoever happens to see this room filled with books often comments with something like, "Wow, Scott, you must read a lot."
I'll let you in on a secret.
I'm better at buying books than I am at reading them!
You see, when you use a knowledge system like the Antinet Zettelkasten, you may find yourself reading less.
When you read using an Antinet, you'll be reading with a pen in hand. You'll be extracting brief thoughts of important pages onto a special type of note (a bibliography card, or "bibcard"). If you intend to make use of the knowledge you extract, you'll then proceed to another phase: "the maincard phase." In this phase, you elaborate on a core idea from your readings by writing out notes as if they were a paragraph in a book or essay on the topic. You then install those cards (aka, "maincards") into your Antinet (your tree of knowledge). In doing this, you're forced to find the most similar idea the maincard relates to (which is an important discipline that I won't get into now).
What you will find is that this process… takes work! And that's a good thing.
Your reading changes such that, no longer are you reading for entertainment; you're reading to put the knowledge into use. You're also reading in order to extract knowledge and install them into your analog mind so that you'll have them forever.
What I'm getting at is this: the Antinet forces you to be very selective with the books you choose, and the analog workflow forces you to be selective with the material you choose within the books!
In the beginning, you'll end up reading less; yet, you'll also end up reading more of the important things (things like influential books and primary sources). Why? Because you'll become conscious of how much work it takes to ingest books properly.
On top of this, when you adopt the Antinet workflow you'll end up developing your mind's neuro-associative recall, which is a fancy-pants way of saying your mind's ability to recall related concepts of whatever you read in the future will be "snappier."
Long story short: although my home office (aka, my home library) is a cave of books, I take comfort in knowing that I'll probably never read all of them. There's just too much to know. However, I do know this: surrounding yourself with the best books you can find does two things:
First, it provides an inspiring environment for you to write and think.
And second, it provides an opportunity to stumble upon a book you bought years ago, at just the perfect time.
That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.
So now, with that meandering thought out of the way, I'd like to update you on a few more things.
First off, why the hell am I writing this in the early morning to you?
You see, normally I write my weekly email to you when I'm at my office in downtown San Diego. I explicitly allocate my mornings for what Jeff Bezos calls "puttering around time." I have my coffee, make my soul daughter oatmeal or eggs, and then workout with my fiancé at F45 (which destroys us).
However, today, here I am in my home office library writing this email to you.
Here's why I'm doing this… drumroll… it's not too exciting… it's because I'm…
About to take off on a flight to Idaho to attend a wedding this weekend.
(Told you it wasn't too exciting).
I'm committed to getting these weekly emails out to you, and writing from my home office sounded a bit better than being crammed onto an airplane.
Anyway, that's why.
Now, onto more interesting things: allow me to update you on what I'm working on behind the scenes.
First and foremost: I've decided to ramp up efforts and go "all in" on this special market that we're a part of. The market I'm referring to is that of personal knowledge management, researching, reading, and… writing! The number of knowledge workers is increasing every year (and it's already a large number of people!) What's missing, however, is proper training to help one ingest knowledge, and then turn that knowledge into written output. More and more knowledge workers are left unfulfilled in their day jobs; there exists an opportunity to help one connect with the more fulfilling activities many people love: reading, thinking, taking notes, and writing.
That's all I'm going to say on this for now.
Second, I've decided to form a company and enlist the help of a friend and trusted advisor to join me as a business partner in this new venture. I'm going to keep things vague for now, but bottom line: I'm excited to continue building the "analog knowledge revolution" with you all and go even beyond that!
Third, you may have already seen this, but in case you haven't, I'm having the cover designed for my Antinet Zettelkasten book. You can view the current design submissions here: https://99designs.com/book-cover-design/contests/design-highly-anticipated-book-about-analog-notetaking-antinet-1189431/entries
If you have a favorite one, feel free to let me know your favorite by replying to this Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/ScottScheper/status/1574841223080132610
There's more going on, but I'll leave things at that for now.
Oh, actually, I would like to share one more update:
My current cohort of Neo-Intellectuals is absolutely kicking ass. They are developing their knowledge (i.e., doing "knowledge dev") almost daily. There's a challenge they've embarked upon and they're doing great in sticking with it.
On top of this, they've begun to publish short essays and content. In brief, their results are looking great. I'm really excited by their progress. In fact, one Neo-Intellectual's first essay even gained a little traction on Hacker News (which is hard to do!). This is just the beginning, but it's awesome to see the framework and blueprint for building the "Neo-Intellectual Life" actually come to fruition.
Writing and publishing is not easy. Building a tribe of people who you value is not easy. Its best done the deliberate way, the slow way, the hard way. In the end, hard work pays off. Just like it does with analog knowledge development.
OK, that's really all I have to say.
I hope you have a great weekend.
Wish me luck in potato land.
"A Man Who Secretly Hates Traveling"
P.S. Stay crispy, my friend.
P.P.S. In the case you have no idea what the hell I'm talking about when I say "Neo-Intellectual", here you go: https://www.neointellectual.institute/welcome/
P.P.P.S. Here's a picture of my home office library I wrote this email to you from this morning: https://twitter.com/ScottScheper/status/1575881405162172416
Friday 9:29 a.m.