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Geist Building a open source personal knowledge base

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Posted by Andrew Mckay
Jun 7, 2017 at 03:12 AM


A project that is under development which members might be interested in



Posted by Paul Korm
Jun 7, 2017 at 11:47 PM


Interesting.  Thank you.

Seems that he’s managed to invent The Brain (or Vue, or CMAP, or Tinderbox, or Kumu). 

In reply a comment, the developer notes “Also, [The Brain’s] schema is still very much hierarchical in my opinion.”  Personally, I don’t believe The Brain has a schema, in the strictest sense, let alone a “hierarchy”.  (Any node—or “thought”—in the Brain can become “home”—which is more a navigational convenience than a logical imperative.)

But, it’s nice that invention is ongoing.


Posted by MadaboutDana
Jun 8, 2017 at 03:42 PM


Absolutely! The more inventiveness in the information management segment, the better. But I was slightly amused by his lengthy and somewhat earnest disquisition on the nature of information managers; so many models have been tried, so few actually work really well. After much experimentation, I’m still inclined to think that a mixture of the hierarchical folder setup with a separate hierarchical tags setup, perhaps complemented by some kind of 3D node setup plus a concept similar to Excel’s pivot-table approach, set off by a nice free-form whiteboard view, would be the ultimate answer. Oh, and maybe supplemented by the kind of info-aggregation view that’s used in Ulysses (where you can view or group multiple fragments as a single piece of text if you so wish).

But hey, nobody’s produced such a thing yet (although you can nearly emulate such a thing in Numbers, funnily enough). Or not in very user-friendly form, anyway - and that’s the problem. Complex data/information manipulation requires a very ingenious interface; making such a thing friendly is very difficult (hence my hatred of Excel; I’m an avid Numbers user, however, precisely because Numbers does manage to be - reasonably - user-friendly).

Perhaps Pierre is working towards some wonderful, all-embracing, cross-platform concept?


Posted by Dominik Holenstein
Jun 10, 2017 at 02:16 PM


Just my 2 cents to

“Also, [The Brain’s] schema is still very much hierarchical in my opinion.”

This is totally wrong. TheBrain is in no way hierarchical, it is associative.



Posted by bryan
Jun 15, 2017 at 10:27 PM


Hi there, author here.

I am currently working on a major redesign of this project. I have learnt a lot the last few months about this topic and I hope to be able to combine it all into a nice UI. MadaboutDana is indeed right that the user interface is a big challenge here, but I feel like I have been making big strides in this area recently.

With regards to the comment on TheBrain, I agree with you that it is incorrect. What I was trying to say was that from what I have seen of TheBrain (I haven’t actually used it), the UI seems to be more focused around placing nodes above or below a node, basically creating multiple hierarchies with the occasional side-jump. My approach to this regard is different, I create a “master mind-map” basically, which contains the different subjects or collections. The subjects can then contain nodes which can arbitrarily link to nodes in any other subject.

My initial inspiration for the project was that I wanted a way to create highly linked notes for studying maths and other sciences. Therefore, I have put a lot of focus on the editor and tried to make the input experience as simple as possible, along with adding the editor features needed to do this (adding TeX, images, video, etc. to a node). I find that the network gives me a better mental image of what I am working on and therefore helps me to keep a good overview of what I am learning. I find that the more visual feedback the UI gives, the easier the learning experience becomes.

I will try to write more about the challenges and things I have learnt in the near future. I would love to know what it is that you look for in a personal knowledge base.

Ps: I am actually looking for a new name for the project with an available .com and/or .io domain, if you have any suggestions that would be greatly appreciated.



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