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Posted by Paul Korm
Oct 10, 2020 at 04:38 PM

 

The technology of Roam or Obsidian is not new—the developers are using existing off the shelf components.  What’s “new” is that the business of linking “notes” (or something more granular within a note) is bringing broader awareness of the uses of hypertext theory and information theory dating back decades. 

The question that fascinates me about all this “new” interest is “why now—what changed”.  Obsidian or Roam could have been written a decade or more ago.  And if then, they probably didn’t generate much interest.  (How many people bought Storyspace when it was first published 33 years ago—Storyspace then, and now, has the same goal as these new toys.)

I read in Obsidian’s forums very detailed posts about ZKs, PKMs, and MOCs, and PARA and blah blah.  Underlying the efforts behind these trends seems to be a general feeling of being overwhelmed by “information” (or data, really—it’s just data) and trying to make connections between “everything I think about .. everything I read ... everything I worry about”.  It’s seductive. 

 


Posted by Paul Korm
Oct 10, 2020 at 04:38 PM

 

The technology of Roam or Obsidian is not new—the developers are using existing off the shelf components.  What’s “new” is that the business of linking “notes” (or something more granular within a note) is bringing broader awareness of the uses of hypertext theory and information theory dating back decades. 

The question that fascinates me about all this “new” interest is “why now—what changed”.  Obsidian or Roam could have been written a decade or more ago.  And if then, they probably didn’t generate much interest.  (How many people bought Storyspace when it was first published 33 years ago—Storyspace then, and now, has the same goal as these new toys.)

I read in Obsidian’s forums very detailed posts about ZKs, PKMs, and MOCs, and PARA and blah blah.  Underlying the efforts behind these trends seems to be a general feeling of being overwhelmed by “information” (or data, really—it’s just data) and trying to make connections between “everything I think about .. everything I read ... everything I worry about”.  It’s seductive. 

 


Posted by bartb
Oct 10, 2020 at 07:50 PM

 

Thanks! FYI - I’m not an academic - more like a digital pack rat! Actually, I’m a retired technologist (30 + years of IT projects, support and management). I always kept notebook/journals of information I found interesting or useful for my job. Until the day, many years ago, I started using the first version of Microsoft OneNote (on a very clunky tablet PC). I still keep notebook/journals and have used every single version of OneNote since then. I run a Mac environment at home and although I still love OneNote I’m trying to branch out to other products. I tried EverNote but then moved on to DEVONthink (which has a pretty steep learning curve). The journey continues .... !     

 


Posted by bartb
Oct 10, 2020 at 07:53 PM

 

“The question that fascinates me about all this “new” interest is “why now—what changed”. ” .... Exactly!
IMHO:  think one indicator is the sheer volume of data people want to track and research is growing too fast for the current toolsets to keep up. 

Paul Korm wrote:
The technology of Roam or Obsidian is not new—the developers are
>using existing off the shelf components.  What’s “new” is that the
>business of linking “notes” (or something more granular within a note)
>is bringing broader awareness of the uses of hypertext theory and
>information theory dating back decades. 
> >The question that fascinates me about all this “new” interest is “why
>now—what changed”.  Obsidian or Roam could have been written a
>decade or more ago.  And if then, they probably didn’t generate much
>interest.  (How many people bought Storyspace when it was first
>published 33 years ago—Storyspace then, and now, has the same goal as
>these new toys.)
> >I read in Obsidian’s forums very detailed posts about ZKs, PKMs, and
>MOCs, and PARA and blah blah.  Underlying the efforts behind these
>trends seems to be a general feeling of being overwhelmed by
>“information” (or data, really—it’s just data) and trying to make
>connections between “everything I think about .. everything I read ...
>everything I worry about”.  It’s seductive. 
> >

 


Posted by Simon
Oct 12, 2020 at 12:56 PM

 

I think there is also an element that people have always wanted to be able to see which notes they have made that relate to other notes they have made. The Zettelkasten idea is extremely powerful. What these new applications add is the behind the scenes connections. I keep making notes and the software connects the ideas. When I click on one note I can immediately see all other notes that link to this topic. Many used to do this with wikis but they became cumbersome to maintain. Even the venerable Tinderbox requires too much coding to make this happen for the average punter.

I do think there is a definite information overload. Do I really need to track every breakfast I’ve had? Or for that matter every thought I’ve had?

The big issue for me is that if you’re long enough in the tooth you may have amassed quite a mound of information and it’s having it all in one place in something that allows ease of creation plus ease of finding what you need when you need it. I CRIMP less these days as I’m tired of transferring information (it’s easy to lose creation dates, tags, labels and contexts) and worse I hate it if I have to look in 5 different apps for that note I made.

My best discovery this past year is Foxtrot Pro search. I moved all my data out of DEVONthink and it now sits in folders and Foxtrot serves up what I need in second. I’m slowly building my own repository in my own folders, which also means it’s easy to migrate should the need arise (and at Apple’s continuing extortionate prices, this may be a reality). I have way too many proprietary documents that need conversion to a more open format, but with a solid file naming convention and a good search, I’m fairly happy. Apps like Obsidian are more for shorter notes than meeting minutes, or perhaps apps for developing ideas and processing through data.

 


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