Skip to content

First, Second and Third Brains

David Sherry
1 min read

My working memory has always been pretty terrible.

Names, faces, and dates all escape me. I've been blessed in other ways, but recording information doesn't seem to be one of them.

Thankfully, we're surrounded by tools today that can act as an extension of our brain. But beyond tools for memory, humans are creating tools that extend our brain in different ways.

One of the most important themes of our century is about this interplay between how we interact with ourselves in isolation, others online, and technology itself with its built in preferences, biases and algorithms.

Our First Brain is the one we're born with, and the one we consult about decisions and use to problem solve. First brain thinking helps us connect with our inner-selves, and taps into our natural intuition and pattern matching that comes from years of experience being in the world.

The First Brain Super Power is Intuition, Pattern Matching, Meaning, Deduction, Emotions, Creativity.

Tiago Forte has been teaching people about Our Second Brain.

It's what we can now use to store information in the cloud. It's our email inbox, Google Docs, the notes in our notebook (digital or physical), it's your Notion page or your Evernote.

The Second Brain Super Power is: Memory, Research, Recall and Calculation + Data.

Our Third Brain, as explored by Kevin Kelly and Venkat Raois the dynamic, crowd-sourced information hive-mind that is born from social media.

Word spreads person to person, node to node to create organic patterns that emerge from the din and noise and bubble up to the surface to reach us.

Our Third Brain Super Power is to bring emergent ideas to the forefront and posing new questions or ideas.


There are many arguments to be made about unplugging, and many people today are making a variety of arguments about limiting time that's plugged in to your phone or to social media.

But the idea isn't to unplug.

It's to plug in, with awareness.

To learn to switch between these ideas in an intentional way, to help us rather than to distract us.

To use today's tools, instead of being used by them...

xx David