Based in New YOrk City, breaking the page is a blog by Pete Meyers. Posts cover content strategy and the art of modern message making.

Building a “Wise Learning Machine”

The internet makes it easy to read more. I’m interested in reading better. 

To do so, I’ve been designing what amounts to a personal content strategy. Specifically, one that helps me:

  • read with a mission
  • contemplate more than I consume
  • build my own briefing book

The system is, at its core, pretty simple: I take notes about what I read and watch, periodically review those notes, and am very picky about what I pay attention to. I still occasionally goof around online. But mostly now, it’s me who decides — not my news feed, nor some master media manipulator, nor even my lizard brain’s addictive impulses. What David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” is to task management, my approach is to being a modern media consumer. 

I’ve created what amounts to a contemplative garden. A place for me to collect and cultivate learnings — both the ones I’ve arrived at myself as well as what I’ve gleaned from others. 

I find myself able now to answer questions like: 

  • what should I read next?
  • what do I currently know?
  • what don’t I know?

From there I approach the internet, and all the media in my life, anew. Not as a reactive, lever-pulling information glutton, but rather as a purposeful reader (of books, blog posts, podcasts, videos — my system is media-type agnostic). 

As a result, I feel like I’ve stopped being jerked around by larger forces that used to chew up most of my time (The New York Times, Twitter, Trump, my iPhone). In their place I’ve rejiggered how I feed my brain. 

I’ll have more to say about how this thing — I call it “wise learning machine,” cribbed from Charlie Munger — works in the weeks ahead. It’s far from finished. There's a bit more to it than I describe above. Every day I use it and every day I tweak it. I’m learning lots about how I learn. But for now I just wanted to offer an introduction — a kind of teaser for this system that’s given me a calmer, more productive way to manage my media diet. 

 A few screenshots of my "wise learning machine." The software I use is DEVONthink, but pretty much any note-taking tool would work. 

A few screenshots of my "wise learning machine." The software I use is DEVONthink, but pretty much any note-taking tool would work. 

Reading for a Reason

Making Mission Statements Meaningful