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Napkin One – Connecting Good Ideas

Do you ever find yourself staring at a blank page, your mind as empty as the page before you? Are you seeking inspiration to ignite your creativity and propel your writing forward? Fear not! The solution is at hand. Introducing Napkin – a revolutionary new tool that will help you generate a flood of ideas like never before. In this article, we’ll delve into the mysteries of creativity, explore the sources of inspiration, and show you how Napkin can help you tap into your creative potential and produce your best work.

Creativity – an Essential Element for Success

Napkin One Canvas

Creativity has become an essential element for success. With the rise of automation, many repetitive tasks are taken care of, leaving us humans needing to do more than go through the motions.

Creative thinking and enjoying the process sets us apart from machines. Inspiration is the key to unlocking the potential for good ideas, and the joy it brings makes life fulfilling.

In the information age, sorting through the abundance of information available can be overwhelming. There is so much noise on social, instant messages, email media, and podcasts!

It’s like standing in a waterfall of ideas without having a pond to hold the good ones. For many curious minds, this feeling of struggling to “keep up” kills inspiration and hampers good ideas and their realization.

Two Founders Come Up with a Solution

Fabian Wittel and David Felsmann saw this waste of creativity, inspiration, and wisdom. They started building a solution based on neuroscientific and psychological insights but foremost with the ambition to build an app that is so simple and beautiful that you want to use it.

Their philosophy is that creative thinking shouldn’t feel like work. It should feel like play.

David Felsmann And Fabian Wittel Napkin One

In 2022 Napkin was founded, and thinking pioneers from over 65 countries worldwide started to use the prototypes. They created a unique interface with Fabian’s background in learning psychology and data visualization and David’s background in sociology and knowledge management.

An interface that mimics how our minds work.

Napkin One Associations

Encouraging Aha Moments

Have you ever observed your thinking? When we think of one thing, it only takes a moment, and another thing comes to mind.

Often we can’t explain why this next thing came to mind, but our brain made an association between the first thought and the second.

Sometimes it’s the same topic, the same author, or the same place. Sometimes it’s only about an insignificant attribute that is shared, for example, the color. Sometimes we think the connection is insignificant, but then – on a second look – we have an AHA!-moment. A new connection is born, and we feel a rush of endorphins.

Proud of our new idea, we are just in the right mindset for the next good idea. This loops into an upward spiral.

But how to get there in the first place?!

When we deliberately try to develop a good idea, we try different idea combinations in our heads. We hold the one we want to build upon and then try to find a match that is not obvious yet meaningful.

Nobody can hold more than seven ideas and concepts in their mind concurrently. So we have to browse through our long-term memory, bring a handful of thoughts to our short-term memory, see if there is anything valuable in the combination, and switch and exchange them until we are satisfied with the constellation of thoughts in our short-term memory.

Often this doesn’t lead to a good result, of course. Our long-term memory is hard to access. We are terrible at remembering ideas from books we read years ago.

That’s where Napkin comes in.

A Personal Aid to Memory

Have you ever had a brilliant idea that slipped away from your grasp as quickly as it came? It’s frustrating, right? Even if you jot down your ideas, keeping them organized and within reach when needed can be challenging.

That’s why having one central place for all your ideas is crucial.

Back in the Renaissance, great minds like Leonardo da Vinci used “commonplace books” to keep track of all their ideas from various projects and disciplines. 

But today, note-taking is much different. We use various digital apps and sometimes write notes on paper, resulting in a cluttered mess that we rarely reference again. Additionally, many of us have been taught to push our brains harder when we want to come up with new ideas. But our brain isn’t a muscle and requires a specific state to build connections between ideas creatively.

Napkin is more than just a personal library; it’s a personal aid to memory that makes creative thinking fun and joyful, increasing the chance of having good ideas, deep insights, and novel solutions. It becomes a personalized thinking partner, inspiring and motivating curious minds daily.

By understanding these mental blocks, we can work towards removing them and unleash our full creative potential.

To truly grasp the essence of creative thinking, it’s crucial to understand that new, innovative ideas are never born from scratch. It combines ideas we read and heard, facts we learned, and experiences.

Where Good Ideas Come From

Good ideas come from recombining existing ideas in new ways. These moments feel like a lucky accident, also called serendipity. Napkin has a systematic approach to bringing serendipity to a whole new level.

The key to serendipity is twofold. First, you have to be in a relaxed and curious state of mind. Second, you have to have a lot of seemingly unrelated ideas on the table to pick from and check whether a combination would make sense. This is where the limitations of our short-term memory build a severe constraint.

Just think about how little ideas we remember from the last book we read. Not to speak of a book we read three years ago.

The good news is that you can increase the likelihood of having those – usually rare – moments of insight by adopting the right mindset and expanding your short-term memory capacity.

In Steven Johnson’s book, “Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation,” he explores the concept that innovation is similar to evolution and how good ideas are born.

Johnson argues that good ideas come from looking left and right rather than forward or backward. He believes that innovation is not just about having an idea but also being able to recognize it when it arises. He explains that the best ideas often come from unexpected places, such as conversations with friends or daydreaming.

By intentionally seeking connections between seemingly disparate ideas, you can give yourself the best chance of coming up with something truly novel and creative. But how do we increase the chance of seeing related ideas less often and seemingly unrelated ideas more often?

The Memex Concept

Vannevar Bush, an American engineer, inventor, and science administrator, introduced the memex concept in his article “As We May Think,” published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1945. Bush believed that the memex, a hypothetical device for storing and retrieving documents, would revolutionize how people access and use information.

Bush claimed that the memex would be helpful because it would allow individuals to store and retrieve information quickly and easily. The memex would enable users to scan and display documents on a screen.

The user could then create links between related documents and retrieve them instantaneously by following those links. The idea was to build a data structure based on associations that work as our minds do.

Now, 78 years later, with Napkin, this system is here and ready to play with in app form.

Using Infinite Space in a Canvas

Napkin is an infinite safe space to collect all the good ideas that come to your mind or those you stumble upon during your daily reading.

What’s impressive about Napkin is that it magically creates associations between your ideas, allowing you to browse playlists and constellations of ideas you might not have thought of before. It lets you quickly spark creative insights and develop new, exciting ideas.

Napkin (currently in beta) attracts a variety of curious minds. Among them are non-fiction writers, academics, songwriters, content creators, screenwriters, entrepreneurs, innovators, poets, and students.

I spend a few minutes each day reflecting on my thoughts and ideas in Napkin. It’s like having a friendly coach helping you to organize and boost your creativity. It helps me stay alert for the next breakthroughs in my business, writing, and personal projects.

Napkin Dailymix

Organizing Ideas with Stacks

Napkin makes it easy to come up with novel and exciting ideas. Whenever you find ideas or pairs of ideas you want to include in your next project, decision, or article, you create a micro-collection called “Stacks.”

Napkin One Stacks

These Stacks hold your ideas in a linear order. You can arrange them, build sections, and structure your next article with drag and drop. Once recombining ideas lay out your argument, it’s only one click, and the list of ideas is copied to your clipboard.

From there, you can take this thought skeleton to any text editor, paste it, and start writing your next piece. 

Creative thinkers and writers who have joined the Napkin beta to support Napkin’s development and shape the app to their needs are creating Stacks for the projects they are working on. Oftentimes this means several projects at the same time.

Projects on the Slow Cooker

Ryan Holiday calls this “having projects on the slow cooker.”

Imagine several pots on your stove with different sauces you want to make. Whenever you come across good ingredients for one of them, you throw them in and stir. But you don’t explicitly search for the ingredients, you are just roaming the market and let yourself be guided by your curiosity, taste, and intuition.

Napkin users enter their ideas conveniently with the web clipper and the iPhone app. Whenever you read something interesting, be it on your laptop or your phone, collecting the best ideas is a click away.

This avoids interrupting the reading flow to take notes. I don’t have to process the idea, think about how and where to save it, or how to link and tag it. The collected idea is connected based on associations to previously collected ideas automatically. The source link is saved, so the original context is always only one click away.

The Daily Mix

Napkin becomes an inspiring habit when reviewing the Daily Mix – a playlist Napkin curates for each user containing some recently collected ideas and some you haven’t seen in a while and probably already forgot about.

These combinations spark inspiration and ensure that every idea collected finds you when it becomes relevant again.

How to Get Napkin

Napkin is still in beta. The founders refused to take on external investments to keep their independence in product development and didn’t have to rush to market too early.

By getting early access to the beta (affiliate link), you support the development of Napkin. Every dollar is reinvested in improving the product. Subscriptions start from $8 a month when paying yearly or $10 monthly.

To boost Napkin’s development speed, you can support its vision as I did by purchasing lifetime access for $300.

This groundbreaking technology can truly help you find innovative solutions to any challenge you face in your creative thinking process.

The key is to start, think broadly, and use all the resources, including Napkin! So, don’t miss this opportunity for a free trial and experience what Napkin can do for you.