Unleashing Creativity and Building Knowledge: The Power of Notes and Idea Sex


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 07, 2023

4 min read


Unleashing Creativity and Building Knowledge: The Power of Notes and Idea Sex


In our pursuit of knowledge and success, we often find ourselves overwhelmed with information and ideas. We take notes, transcribe our thoughts, and gather knowledge, but somehow, we still feel like something is missing. The truth is, the actual work is not simply taking notes or imagining new concepts; it goes beyond that. In this article, we will explore the importance of understanding, making connections, and actively engaging with our notes and ideas. We will delve into the power of Obsidian as a tool for thinking and playing, and we will also uncover the secrets of idea sex, as shared by James Altucher. So, let's dive in and discover how we can combine these two approaches to unleash our creativity and make the most of our knowledge.

Building Knowledge vs. Using Knowledge:

Taking notes is undoubtedly a valuable tool for building knowledge. It helps us organize our thoughts, remember important information, and create a foundation of understanding. However, if we stop at just taking notes, we miss out on the opportunity to truly internalize the knowledge and make it our own. Merely transcribing notes without rephrasing and self-explaining what we consume leaves us with a superficial understanding. Therefore, it is crucial to go beyond note-taking and start using our notes actively.

The Power of Thinking and Playing:

The actual work happens when we start playing and tinkering with our notes. Actively thinking and engaging with our notes allows us to strengthen our understanding, identify gaps in our knowledge, and spark new curiosities and questions. To facilitate this process, we need a space free from judgment, where we can think and muddle through our notes. This is where Obsidian comes in.

Obsidian: A Playground for Thoughts:

Obsidian provides us with the ideal environment to think and play with our notes. It offers two distinct spaces: vague-notes and thinking-notes. Vague-notes are more random, where we create new notes and link them to existing ones. We let our thoughts flow freely and write whatever comes to our mind regarding a particular note. This process allows for unexpected connections and associations to emerge, leading to new insights and ideas. On the other hand, thinking-notes are more specific. Here, we can shape our thoughts, pull up relevant notes, create links, and rearrange the text, notes, and links until we refine our ideas.

Bottom-Up Note-Taking and the Value of Backlinks:

A bottom-up approach to note-taking can be a game-changer in terms of organizing information and finding inspiration. It starts with taking notes and connecting them at the "bottom," gradually building clusters of interconnected notes. This method allows for a more organic and intuitive way of organizing our knowledge, as opposed to a rigid hierarchical structure. Backlinks, as featured in note-taking apps like Roam, Obsidian, and Logseq, add value by enabling us to navigate through our notes effortlessly and discover new connections. While they may not have a significant impact on organizing information, they serve as a valuable source of inspiration.

Idea Sex: Combining Elements for Innovation:

Now, let's dive into the concept of idea sex, as introduced by James Altucher. Altucher defines creativity as the logical combination of two or more existing elements that result in a new concept. Instead of trying to imagine completely new ideas, he suggests making two lists of what people love and combining them. By merging these elements, we can develop innovative applications that resonate with people's desires and needs. The key is to have fun during the process, pick the best idea, and use it as a foundation to make an impact, both financially and emotionally.


In conclusion, the true power lies in the balance between building knowledge and using knowledge. Taking notes is essential for accumulating information, but it is through active engagement, thinking, and playing with our notes that we truly learn and innovate. Obsidian provides us with a playground for our thoughts, where we can freely explore and combine ideas. Additionally, the concept of idea sex encourages us to combine existing elements to create something new and valuable. So, here are three actionable pieces of advice to take away:

  • 1. Find time to actively engage with your notes and ideas. Dedicate space in your workflow for thinking and playing with your thoughts. Utilize tools like Obsidian to facilitate this process.
  • 2. Embrace a bottom-up approach to note-taking. Start with small, interconnected notes, and gradually build clusters of knowledge. Explore the power of backlinks to discover new connections and gain inspiration.
  • 3. Practice idea sex. Combine existing elements to develop innovative applications that resonate with people's desires. Remember to have fun during the process and strive to make a positive impact.

By incorporating these strategies into your learning and creative endeavors, you can unlock the full potential of your knowledge and imagination. Embrace the balance between building knowledge and using knowledge, and watch as your ideas flourish and your impact grows.

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