Digital Garden of Paul

Ambient research over active research

David Perell, in his podcast Write of Passage, discusses the differences between active research and ambient research. Active research is what we learn at school. It is that stage you had just before writing your essay. The part where you actively search for information, quotes and any visuals. For most students this has to be delivered in short period of time, just before the deadline.

Researching actively, just when you need it, is something we typically learn at school and in the workplace. When we have to write a report, documentation or any other form of essay we tend to start from a blank slate. It is a highly ineffective way of writing information. Perell shows another form of researching, one he calls ambient research.

Ambient research is in essence about being aware of your surroundings and take note of any observation, epiphany or information that is valuable for you. Storing this information in a note-taking system. Capturing thoughts. It is the key for ambient research. This Digital Garden contains my ambient research. It is where I record my information, thoughts and epiphanies. Allowing me to use that information when I need it, or to create new connections and relations between pieces of information.

When a note-taking system reaches a critical mass it simplifies the creation process of new articles or essays. Writing becomes easier. Active research is still needed, but only to close some gaps or to gain additional information for the center piece. My Writing Practice supports me in doing ambient research.

Ambient research over active research