One Brain to Rule Them All: Creating a MegaBrain.
TheBrain Blog

Shelley Hayduk
Feb 9, 2009

One Brain to Rule Them All: Creating a MegaBrain.

There are many types of Brains you can create from your favorite hobby to visualizing mission critical business strategies.

For some people your PersonalBrain is for organizing documents, for others its research projects or keeping organized at work. And then there are the MegaBrain users. Oh yes. :)

Mega Brain users (who I personally adore) have reached what we describe as Level 4: Mind meld.

At level 4 your Brain becomes more than the sum of its parts, a reflection of your life, your digital identity. Just how does one create and become a MegaBrain user?

Just ask Jim Keravala, entrepreneur, CEO and cofounder of Flaii.


“It can take several months or years to fine tune your system. The trick is not to rush it nor to succumb to the mindset of trying to ‘complete’ your brain. It’s a journey, a blueprint of your mind or an entire journal of your thoughts if you like.”

With 50,000 thoughts and growing I decided to ask him a few questions.


How big is your Brain and how long have you been using the software?
My brain is currently around 50,000 thoughts and it is still the same one I started back in 1998! Since that time I’ve not lost a single thought or file from my brain, even with the occasional hardware glitch.

Why do you use PersonalBrain? What do you use it for?
I think PersonalBrain stands alone in the field. Its astounding capability derives in part from its conceptual simplicity. I’ve always intuitively appreciated that the value of information lies as much if not more in its context rather than simply the information alone.

I use PB because it seamlessly allows me to capture my thoughts, ideas and content and acts as a hard-drive for my mind! I don’t have any directory structure on my computer for my data; everything is internal to PB in my single brain file. With this approach my PB covers everything that is relevant to me. I include personal items, business projects and ideas. I link it comprehensively with Outlook so all my contacts are embedded in the brain in the relevant locations, as well as emails. All my files are of course there too so I only have to click the relevant thought and my data opens automatically. The only external files I have are shortcuts to software that I also open from within PB!


Was their a particular moment after you discovered PersonalBrain that it “clicked” for you?
That’s easy, about 15 seconds after first running v1.

What are some of the key areas in your Brain?
When deciding to nurture a large brain, this is an important question. Three of four times over the last 10 years I undertook a major overhaul of my brain’s structure as my requirements expanded and my reliance on it became all encompassing. When working on multiple projects and commitments at the same time it is impossible to keep track of everything without some cool organizing.

In terms of information I tend to think of passive and active. Passive is stuff I’ve drawn into PB. Mostly like websites, documents, references and all sorts of other reference information. Active is stuff I’ve generated, photos, documents data, ideas etc. Now I have one of my Study sub topics called Business Studies. Under this thought I have 63 other thoughts; about half of those thoughts have dozens under them too and so on.


However, if I’ve started a company on building widgets, I don’t want my accounting, project management, plans and documents generated to be mixed up with wikipedia sites, general providers web Thoughts, external reports etc. This issue crept up on me slowly over a couple of years until it reached a critical mass of inconvenience. Over about 3 months I then separated hundreds of thought classes out of the Study and created a new class of Thoughts called Portfolio. Under that I created separate numbered Portfolios for different projects and activities that I am specifically doing. From that point on I had the basis of active and passive dimensions as well. So for the most part now I hang round my Portfolios and then jump to different parts of my PB as required.

What are your most used Thoughts?
The most used are the Portfolio thoughts that are the door ways to specific projects. I have 42 Portfolio thoughts and 19 of them are currently in use. My physical library of books, documents etc also then reflect those Portfolios, so in effect the structure of my brain is reflected in the structure of my physical data. Each Portfolio project is then jump-linked to various reference and study thought sections


How did your Brain grow to over 50,000 thoughts?
I carry my laptop with me wherever I go. Although not such a high level of propinquity as a PDA for example, it is just the way I do things now. Every thought gets added in as I think of it. If I don’t have that handy then I use my windows mobile phone to scribble notes and sync it in later. Every piece of information, file, data even thought that I have I now automatically think of it in three dimensions: content, context and time. That is the data, where it sits, and what action do I do with it. If it’s reference then I just link in context with other thoughts, If it’s actionable then I use Outlook tasks with Taskline added. I also have the Getting Things Done module for Outlook which I use at the same time. So for the most part it is a constant flow of additions as a way of life. There have been blocks of thoughts added. When I’m researching a topic, I usually spend a few weeks doing so and can pull in dozens if not hundreds of webreferences, files, notes, documents etc

How do you maintain your Brain?
All my files and data are internal to the brain; that’s key. For the most part I don’t go scouring thoughts to correct or augment links or other metadata. I don’t mind a certain amount of fuzziness although the whole thing is quite lean now and everything connected well.

What advice would you give to new users?
It can take several months or years to fine tune your system. The trick is not to rush it nor to succumb to the mindset of trying to ‘complete’ your brain. It’s a journey, a blueprint of your mind or an entire journal of your thoughts if you like.

You will notice the need for changes to your brain as they become apparent, in the meantime just let the stuff flow. In order to start, I would spend 10-15 minutes thinking about the main classifications of your life that are important. It can be Work, Family, People, Projects etc – whatever works. Also realize that these are just starting points to be built upon, in many ways you could consider them scaffolding for your building rather than the structure itself – that follows. Allow your thoughts to flow.

At first it may appear harder because there is less context – every new thought is beating a new path initially. Stick with it and within a few weeks the associations become more obvious as trunk thoughts start to crystallize – those main arteries of context thoughts that content thoughts connect to. I’ve actually sat down with a few folks and helped them structure the first one or two hundred thoughts in a brainstorming environment which really helps too. If you can find a PB user then steal an hour from them for this! Also check out the webinars on the PB website. I would also recommend (as with anything) a clear backup strategy for all your data. The PB Forums have plenty of advice on this.

You go by Spacenexus on the discussion boards what does this name mean?
In true DaVincian fashion, I believe everything in the world is connected and so am fascinated by everything; primarily I have a great passion for space and our future adventures exploring beyond our cradle. On the other hand, I could have just thought it was a cool webname to have many years ago! 🙂

What is the most ridiculous, outrageous Thought or area in your Brain?
I have a ‘Fun’ thought which is a dump for all the crazy stuff folks send – I could probably do a two hour one man show with my laptop on my knee going through some of the jokes and videos. It’s also interesting to see how evolution of taxonomies transpire. For example, area on Politics has a section on extreme politics and then conspiracy theories.

From another location the History trunk thought has a sub thought called History, which in turn has one called Mysteries (ancient civilizations etc). There’s some fun stuff there for sure. What is interesting is that there are thoughts that then sit in Mysteries and also Conspiracy Theories. Subtle connections start to appear after such a critical mass of thoughts and previously unconnected information finds common context from completely different starting points. The outpouring of ideas at these junctions is part of the immense power of human augmentation that PB enables and is extremely difficult to generate otherwise.


What is the biggest impact your Brain has had on your life?
I would say the biggest impact is the shear volume of information I have at my fingertips and the speed at which I’m able to retrieve deep connections and information. It affects the way I think and organize and I do believe lays the foundation for future interfacing and semantic technologies. As the state of the art of artificial intelligence increases I believe my brain file will form the kernel of my own self aware neurally connected personal cloud. But that’s for another conversation… :)

Filed under: Improving Your Brain Self Discovery and Inspiration User Case Studies and Stories

More posts by: Shelley Hayduk