zoom-in-zoom-out thinking

Zoom-in-zoom-out thinking is about exploring your ideas without the confines of one specific thought.

This practice requires software that is easy to click in and out of a written outline such as Craft, Obsidian, Roam Research, Workflowy, or many of the others on the market. Tools for managing information overload and improving how we think are on the rise so find whatever works for you and jump in!

Typically when we’re writing we have a thesis or argument in mind, and write what we need to build up to making the case. With zoom-in-zoom-out thinking, the goal is to let our minds be free to wander as much as they want, while we’re capturing all the intriguing thoughts we come across in our mind’s journey.

Here’s what it might look like once you open your writing/thinking/note-taking app of choice:

  • Write a sentence.
  • Have a new idea related to the new sentence but not to the larger body.
  • Click to zoom in on the new sentence.
    • Now you’re focused on that idea and that idea alone. Free to explore fleeting thoughts and capture whatever words speak to you.
    • Write whatever you want about that train of thought—perhaps zooming in to even more layers of thought—letting your mind wander as much as you want
    • When you’re done that tangent you can zoom back out to your original frame of view and continue with your writing.
  • Now you’ve progressed your work and generated novel ideas which you’ll be able to tend to over time should you find yourself developing a cluster of ideas. This helps build a body of work while building out your web of thinking.

To see this type of thinking in practice, just keep clicking through this site and exploring how the ideas all link to one another! Obsidian is for building my body of work, tending to this digital garden, and what I use for zoom-in-zoom-out thinking. Enjoy!


I made this site to learn through discourse. Your thoughts here👇 or on Twitter are encouraged!

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