More networked thinking

Network Graph of my Zettelkasten on Obsidian

George Pór asked me stimulating questions which lead me to think and write about my Personal Knowledge Management workflow. This is a refined elaboration of that thread.

Writing is not enough

I’ve built the habit of writing for 30 minutes or 1’000 words per day. I’ve started on the 24 of September 2019. I’ve discovered that writing is immensely beneficial. But it is not enough. 

This is where the Building a Second Brain and the Zettelkasten methods came into play.

I am trying to evolve my journaling habit to a higher level of  reflection and connection. Dumping thoughts is not enough. I need to build a network of thoughts on top of which I can be creative, innovative and I can deeply strengthen my knowledge.

This requires great changes in my workflow.

Reading is not enough, note-taking is not enough, writing is not enough.

If I want to grow my knowledge ecosystem I need to understand carefully what I observe, read, listen, and watch; rephrasing in my own words, writing it down in my PKM system and searching for any connection with my existing knowledge.

This is adding a lot of work to what I was already doing. It’s harder to do. It requires more focus and concentration. It’s harder to build as a habit because within the same dedicated time I now can do less, much less reading.

So I need to develop “resonance” strategies to drive my attention. I should focus only on those learning activities bringing the highest value to my learning path.

Everything looks great, in theory, but doing it is a real challenge.

My data want to be free

In terms of tools I am really sick of losing my data to big corporations locking me down with proprietary technologies. This is happening since the day of my Commodore Vic 20 in 1982. I am done with that.

I want my data to be device-agnostic, free to be used anywhere, anytime with any tool. That is why, while I am keeping an eye on Notion (nice, free, but heavy), Evernote (prehistory, I am about to stop paying for it), Roam Research (the cutting edge frontier) and the many seeing birth as mushrooms after the rain.

I want to focus on my content, my files without worrying about the tool.

Obsidian: a new notes management system

Obsidian: “A knowledge base that works on local Markdown files.” is just one of the many Note Management Systems managing pure Markdown/text files without a centralized database or a proprietary format.

Obsidian, a networked thought tool based on pure text.
Obsidian, a networked thought tool based on pure text.

This has limitations, of course, no built-in cloud syncing (they’re working on that) and a young and not mature set of features. But I feel free! Maybe for the first time.

No Microsoft Office, no Google Docs, no proprietary tools to read my thoughts! Notepad would do or any pure text editor would allow me to access my Second Brain.

Evolving my publishing workflow

This is what pertains to personal knowledge management for the internal workflow of reading, writing, thinking.

When we talk about collaboration or publishing we need to look at different needs, constraints and tools. In my case I am looking to refine my workflow in which I exploit in the best way my private PKM system to create interesting ideas, connections and speculations.

Then I would extract those notes to create a draft and, at this stage, I am out of the PKM System, I am inside the realm of the infamous text editing tools. Again, but within a different context and with a different purpose.

What did I publish so far with this evolving workflow?

Have a look at:

3 responses to “More networked thinking”

  1. Great plug for Obsidian! I found it recently and I can identify with the desire to be free of any proprietary system.

    I use a mix of Evernote and Obsidian, but am considering moving from Evernote into Obsidian entirely. Still trying to find a way to do a seamless import though. And not a fan of how Obsidian saves/treats images so I might still need to use a mix of both. Wonder if you face similar challenges?

  2. Hi, Joshua.
    I am paying the price of 35GB of Evernote notes accumulated in 20 years. Before I can even export to a more portable format I should wait for a full sync to complete. I’ve been waiting for two days and I am at 50%.
    I am afraid I will have to keep it as an archive to browse on demand. And starting from scratch. In Obsidian I have already dozens of notes after one month of daily use and I am not yet completely satisfied but it’s a leap from my previous system.
    Managing attachments and images is a delicate matter. That is what brought me to be stuck with and in Evernote. I should try to focus on textual notes and minimize graphical a rich text assets which should go in a reference folder or system.
    I have your same issues and I am not yet clear on how to solve it. For sure I don’t want to find myself in the same situation I’ve ended up by hoarding files mindlessly.
    Please let me know if you have suggestions or comments.
    Thanks for your contribution.

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