Mind Nodes - Collector's Fallacy

Mind Nodes - Collector's Fallacy

Eric Gregorich

I'm Eric Gregorich. Mind Nodes is a weekly newsletter where I share my latest posts and interesting articles, videos, and other content that I discover throughout the week.

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Collector's Fallacy

In today's digital world, we have so much information coming at us that we need to collect whatever we find helpful or interesting to use again later. The problem is that most of the time, we never look at it again. This is known as Collector's Fallacy. You'll often see opinions about how Collector's Fallacy is a bad thing, but I think it's important to understand that it depends on the type of things you collect.

To keep it simple, we can categorize the digital things we collect into two categories, Reference, and Knowledge.

Reference includes things that are helpful to us. For example:

  • Files
  • Checklists
  • Bookmarks
  • Recipes
  • Images
  • Email
  • Meeting Notes
  • Code Snippets
  • Steps to solve a problem

It can be valuable to keep these things handy to use them again in the future. They can potentially save a lot of time. On the other hand, you may never look at it again. I have an old Evernote account with over 6,000 notes in it. I've probably referred to about 100 of those notes again over the years. Does that mean I shouldn't have kept the rest? No! They're not in my way, but they're there if I ever need them. It's also fun to look back and the things I was collecting from years ago.

Evernote, Apple Notes, Google Keep, OneNote, and Notion are common note-taking applications that excel at collecting Reference material.

Collecting Knowledge is where things get sticky. We collect things that we want to learn and use again, but we often never take the next step. This type of content requires much more to be done after collecting it.

Here are a few examples:

  • Ideas
  • Book Notes and Highlights
  • Articles
  • Research
  • Study material
  • Conversations

First, it's important to limit the Knowledge we collect to what we find useful and of high quality.

  • Follow people, not companies. Follow the individuals who have spent the time and effort researching the topic. They produce high-quality books and articles that we can consume.
  • Consolidate. In the past, I would follow all of the blogs, social media accounts, and YouTube videos in an RSS (I preferred Feedly). But this became overwhelming. I had a continuous feed of new things to see. Today, I use MailBrew to create a daily digest of the best articles and most popular posts from social media. It is now a 15-30 minute daily activity to get through all of my content, and I stopped checking for new content throughout the day.

Once we collect Knowledge, we need a workflow to do something with it. This is why the Zettelkasten method has become so popular. After the capture phase, we distill, research, think, and connect these notes with others.

Obsidian, Roam Research, Mem, SuperNotes, and RemNote are some of the note-taking applications that excel at collecting and building Knowledge.


Additional Reading

The Collectors Fallacy over at Zettelkasten.de explains Collectors Fallacy well. They also have a follow-up article Note-Taking when Reading the web and RSS, that talks about implementing a workflow process.

How to choose the right note-taking app is a great article that explains how there are three main note-taking styles.

The architect. They enjoy planning, designing processes and frameworks, and need a note-taking tool that allows them to easily structure their ideas.
The gardener. They enjoy exploring, connecting various thoughts together, and need a note-taking tool that allows them to easily grow their ideas.
The librarian. They enjoy collecting, building a catalogue of resources, and need a note-taking tool that allows them to easily retrieve their ideas.

Helpful Tools

This week I tried Microsoft Editor to see how it compares with Grammarly. Microsoft Editor didn't last a day before I uninstalled it. It works great in Office applications (where it is built-in), but the browser extension did not work well. It only seemed to provide spelling corrections and not much else.

I have been using Grammarly Premium since 2018. It has been a game-changer for me. It makes writing so much easier. The browser extension allows Grammarly to check your spelling and grammar on most sites. The premium version provides many suggestions and also tells your text may sound to readers.

Example Grammarly suggestion.

I purchased the Logitec MX Keys keyboard this week. The keyboard is awesome! It is very comfortable and easy to type on. My favorite features include the smart backlighting (turns on when your hands are over the keys) and how easy it is to switch between devices. I can now quickly toggle between my work and personal machines connected to the same monitor.

Logitech MX Keys

If you enjoyed this newsletter, please share it with others. You can also reach me on Twitter @ericgregorich if you have any questions or suggestions.