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MiYo - Aggregate - Collecting Information

As already discussed in MiYo - ACE I want to take a closer look at the

A from ACE.

Aggregate = Collecting Information

The most important aspect when I aggregate information is to not create a data swamp. Been there, done that. See also Collectors Fallacy:

Without self-awareness and discipline, our “default state” is to hoard information.

Only if you walk the steps of ACE regularly the information which is collected will not disappear into a black hole.

If you keep this in mind you will be better able to understand my approach to collecting information.


Let's base this on the following example:

  • I'm interested in Japan, I'm learning the Japanese language and would like to travel to Japan next year.

  • I'm subscribed to different newsIetters, youtube channel and websites. So I get information about culture, country, people, language and travel.

  • From time to time I also search for specific things during my language study.

How do I find the needed information?

Let's look first on how I find the information I need.

There are 2 possible ways for me to find information:

  • active search

  • stumble upon it


Let's say I need a specific information during my language study. I start looking in places which everybody knows: Google, Youtube, Amazon etc for the needed information. Like everybody else does.

Stumble Upon It

Newsletters or Google Search is the source of this information. There is something interesting in a newsletter or something in the search results for something different looks interesting. So the information lands just on my "desk". Now I need to decide do I want to keep that information.

Which information are saved in the system?

I quickly glanced over how I get my information, so let's take a look which information will find a place in my system.

Information only finds their way into my system if the meet the following critera:

  • They fit into a sector of my structure which is based on PARA.

  • They are not easy to get

  • They are lasting

  • They are needed

Let's take a closer look at this:

PARA Structur

PARA (Projects, Areas of Responsibilities, Resources and Archiv) is from Building a second brain, a way to create a PKM system created by Tiago Forte.

At the moment I use a structure which is based on PARA to save my notes.

Let's stick with the example, I have a project "Study Japanese" and a resource "Japan".

The project does contain all the things I need to learn the Japanese language. The resource contains all the things I learn about Japan in general and possible information for my future Japan travel.

So let's say I stumble upon a great article about Thailand. Do I note it down?

Not at the moment, I don't have a place for it. I could of course evaluate if I would like to add a resource "Future travel destinations" but this is quite far in the future and if I can use the information then is in question. On top of that I can probably find that information in 1 to 2 years also, in which case it would probably more relevant or up to date. So I probably don't note it down.

How easy is it to get the information again?

And up into the next section. How easy is it to get the information again? How long does it take to find the information or is the information a search result on the first Google search page?

Of course I also need to consider in this case how easy it will be to get the information in the future.

But there is not only the search which is important, also the amount of information is important.

If the information is a small part hidden in a 10 minute blog article it makes it more interesting to note it down instead of searching for it again and again.

Just make sure you don't search the information and note it down again and again😀

Lasting Information

All the best tips for Japan during Covid may be useful during the time Japan was closed to the world. But now tourists are streaming back into the country so it becomes questionable if those information and the information before Covid is still relevant and good.

So before noting anything down, think about if the information will have value in the future too.

Needed Information

And Last but not Least... do I really need that information?

If I'm not sure if I need the information.. I don't note it down or I park them somewhere for the time being.

There is an abundance of information for every subject, even the same information at different places. The interesting part though is: Do I really need that information?

She fits into PARA, she isn't easy to get and she is lasting. Does she add value to my knowledge though?

What would happen if I don't have that information?

This is the one thing everybody needs to decide for their own. Consider to not write things down instead of writing things down.

The process below can help with finding the right answer to this question.

How much time do I have to process the information

I sought, found and think that I need this information or I'm not so sure about needing it. What is the next step?

Do I have enough time to process the information or do I need to park it somewhere for the time being?


Information, which I'm not sure about that I need them (but my gut tells me that it might be the case) or if I don't have enough time to really process that information are put into a Read-It-Later queue.

I use 2 different approaches:

  1. My "See-It-Later" playlist for Youtube etc. or for websites

  2. the Zettelkasten for anything else

It is important though to process those Read-It-Later queues regularly and add as much information to them from the beginning.

For example, allows it to not only tag an URL but also write a comment about the webpage. This comment is important because it allows me to easier recognise the reason I saved the URL when I process the queue afterwards.


I have time... that happens ofter then you think 😀 ... so I directly process that information, we will take a closer look at that later.

Where do I note down the Information?

Like I already mentioned I save my notes in a folder structure which is based on PARA. After some extensive consideration of the different approaches I deemed that this is the best way for me. I have grown up with folders, I have speedier access to the information in question and only focus on things which are important.

It also best reflects the things I want to achieve with my PKM at this moment.

There are other options but this is my way. If it will stay that way is to be seen.

How do I note down the information?

Again 2 approaches to note down information:


Some information are easy to produce highlights off, e.g.

  • Websites

  • E-Books

  • Youtube Videos

  • etc.

Highlights are a first step for my notes. I use the CODE approach from Building a second brain.

Highlight or Note?
Highlights are an useful way if there is a lot of information coming from one resource. If a resource only contains limited information it makes more sense to directly create a full fledged note.

Highlights are normally imported via Readwise into my Vault and needs to be processed further to become full fledged notes.

As I don't want them to water down the information in my vault and as I need to process those highlights further the are put in a special folder in "690 Assets" and also tagged correspondingly.

Full fledged notes

The other approach is to directly create a note specific to the type of information directly at the right place. Sometimes I will process them even further later on.

At the right location with the right type of note is the place where all information from the Read-It-Later queue and the highlights land.

The vault should in the end only contain full fledged notes which are usful and are backed by source material which can deepen the information.

What does it take to create a full fledged note?

The most important thing in the war against the data swamp. Only write down things you really need.

I already did weed out the information during searching = Is there a location in my vault to store the information in? (PARA)

There are other things which help:

  1. Note down everything in your own words

    1. Copy / Paste does not process information and a lot of information is unnecessary or doesn't contain value.

  2. Be brief

    1. do away with the fluff, only the important is interesting, otherwise you will start glancing over all the information nevertheless.

  3. Think about why you are writing it down:

    1. Do you still need that information?

    2. Will you need the information in the future?

    3. If you are unsure, can you find this information easy again in the future?

It is important to really do those steps, especially with information which finds it's way into the vault in an indirect way, for example highlights from websites

Because of that I tag all of my initial notes with "status/fleeting/💯" or "status/fleeting/🎗️".

What did I learn while writing this article?

While writing this article I noticed that the source note had already a rough idea but was way to long. So I created several notes out of it.

I still think that I need to reprocess these notes as they are still too long. But this is something for the future and I guess this article will stay this way now.


As you can see, information gathering isn't that hard, to process the information is the hard and time consuming part.

Without consistent processing and assessment if you really need that information you will have a lot of information in your vault which doesn't add any value.

Nick Milo calls that in Linking Your Thinking "Signal Noise Ratio":

As louder the noise gets (notes without value), the harder it gets to understand the signal (notes with value).

But more about than in another blog post.

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