High-quality source for high-quality thoughts

  • Post by Maxime Cote
  • Feb 13, 2020

Now that we are writing as we read and as we are doing things, what’s next? Next is how to find interesting ideas and sources to read. How can you define interesting ideas and high-quality sources for your thoughts? It’s a bit of an abstract concept, and it’s somewhat personal. But there are ways you can know for yourself if something or someone is. I’ll list some ideas and steps you can try for yourself to expand your information sources and find new exciting ideas.

How to define “interesting ideas.”

If you followed along with the series and started to take notes as you read, this is a great indicator. The amount of notes you took while reading/listening/watching is most likely proportional to its quality. Another sign is how many insights you had while consuming the information. Did you have any? Did you have one every 5 minutes? I call that the “insight per min” metrics for myself, and it’s an easy way to gauge something. I’ve had books like [“Start Finishing” from Charlie Gilkey] that gave me many insights every chapter. Another way to go at it is this question: “Is this interesting and relevant to my interest.” That was also one of the ones to help you be more active with your information, which is why it works here too.

As you might have noticed, I’m not talking authors, length, actual sources, or media type here. Nowadays, there are so many factors to take into account, so judging from those is irrelevant. You can get the same sort of high-quality information from a blog post written by an expert as you would from a book. The same is true of most other media forms and type out there as now people can use multiple media to share their ideas quickly. There is some exception to that, though, like short news articles. It’s a lot harder to have a high “insight per minute” in an article and takes you one minute to read from your social media feed. News is also often less high quality not by their reporting but by their lifecycle. News items are often most relevant today or this week, not long term. So, in the end, you might gravitate toward longer-form content, but it is not necessary.

How to find new ideas

List based discovery

There are many ways to go about this since there are so many sources and interesting ideas out there. This technique is how I go about it for myself. While I have multiple media to start from, my main ones are Twitter and RSS feed. They also both very similar in the way I go about using them. I started from a list/feed from people I trusted who curated those over time and modified it to fit my current needs and interest. Since I already knew it was curated and of good quality, it was easier to start with then change what I needed. I removed the one I had no current interest in and added some that were more fitting for me.

For both of those sources, I also keep an uncurated stream that is wider-ranging in topics and quality. That feeds allow me to prevent the “echo chamber” of having narrower views focused only on those curated people. On the other hand, since that feed is more open, there is a lot more information coming in. So, for the most part, I usually glance at the title as I scroll to see what piques my interest instead of taking time on each. The rest of my finding often comes from recommendation from those curated sources/peoples. That’s my technique how I go about it, but there are other ways too.

Algorithm/Research-based discovery

Another way is to use the algorithm recommendation from Amazon combined with some research. That is how David Perell goes about it:

  • Go look up a book that you liked that is not mainstream.
  • Look for the “Other people who viewed this also viewed” section to find recommendations of other books you might find interesting
  • Look up those books, and if the summary looks interesting, go look up the author/book on Wikipedia for interesting background information.
  • That page is most likely going to have references on the bottom which then leads you to even more sources to look from
  • From that point, look up YouTube summary video on the book/author or summary made by other people that seems like a good introduction to the subject.
  • Use those to get initiated on the author/book/subject then go from there if it’s still interesting to you at that point

This method is pretty easy to apply and doesn’t require lots of time investment. You can stop at any point, as soon as you know it’s not a good fit. If it turns out not to be for you, then you might have spent 15-20 minutes on it and gain more knowledge anyway. Starting from a beginning/introduction place also is an excellent time-wise. That way, you don’t have to invest multiple hours upfront in learning if the subject/author/book is a match. That way you can go through a lot more things to find a good match.

Expert/Author based discovery

If you stop for a moment and think about it, you most likely already have some high-quality sources to start. There are most likely some experts you’ve been following the work of or consuming their content. Starts from that expert and look for a guest post, references, recommendations they have. Some of those might not fit you or not in an obvious way, but some will click since they’re related to the expert. Once you got a new interesting source, you now have two sources to get recommendations from, and it all goes exponentially from there. People will likely ask those experts for references in their field, and most will have them already on their website or social media. Just look around those places, and you will find them, and then you can also explore from there. If you can’t find anything, you could always try asking them for some directly, ask them for good pointer in their field. Most people will gladly show you a direction to explore, then you have more sources and repeat the process. If they don’t, then keep consuming their work, and at some point, they should reference some ideas, books, etc. you can look into.