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Last post Author Topic: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten  (Read 57792 times)

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #200 on: November 20, 2019, 05:46 AM »
I've just taken on a new project that needs to be completed over the weekend. So, I will need a temporary sources folder and a temporary Temp folder! But by Monday it will be all done and dusted and in permanent zettel. Unless I'm forced to extend by non-completion.

superboyac

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #201 on: November 27, 2019, 02:03 PM »
OK!  more updates....

So I am still struggling with one-note one-thought.  Specifically, what i think is one note ends up being a whole  bunch of thoughts.  So my method to get better at this is to call it for myself:  One question, one answer.  So my notes are now a question as the subject, and an answer (short as possible).  This is kind of working for me now.

My notes structure is:

ID (zettlr generates based on date-time, I just copy to top of the note content)
title/question (same as name of file)
tags

then the content/answer


so for my screenplay writing, it might be like:
20191118132057
Who is the Hero?
#moviename #screenplay

The hero is Dormouse, a mouse with a door fetish.
[But why does he have a door fetish?](link to door fetish note)

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #202 on: November 28, 2019, 02:14 AM »
Dormouse, a mouse with a door fetish.
(link to door fetish note)
Note content:

door dorm
Dormice embody the Latin virtue of Sleep  ;D

superboyac

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #203 on: December 02, 2019, 01:42 PM »
lol!  damn!  those things hibernate half the year??  ridiculous.


Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #204 on: December 02, 2019, 06:43 PM »
I think a question is a perfectly OK method to focus the notes. Though not the only way. And questions don't necessarily lead to a focused thought: what is the best way from Riga (Latvia) to Sydney (Australia) should never have a simple answer - a set of directions should emerge after consideration of a wide number of issues. Of course, the question could be Note 1. the issues could be notes 2 - n and the set of directions could be linked to them all.

While I think atomicity is important for linking, I also feel that the developed thought needs to be long and developed enough to warrant an independent existence.

Ironically, and off-topic, I've found a use for OneNote. Can be structured to help conceptually, and easy to have very tiny and often temporary notes, store data and work as a shared international enterprise. Once it is complete, everything could be put into separate documents, but, as a WIP. OneNote makes it easier. And, on topic, one of the issues was tiny temporary thoughts which wouldn't warrant existence as a separate document and which shouldn't be consolidated  until there's some clarity about the final form.

superboyac

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #205 on: December 04, 2019, 01:42 PM »
I think a question is a perfectly OK method to focus the notes. Though not the only way. And questions don't necessarily lead to a focused thought: what is the best way from Riga (Latvia) to Sydney (Australia) should never have a simple answer - a set of directions should emerge after consideration of a wide number of issues. Of course, the question could be Note 1. the issues could be notes 2 - n and the set of directions could be linked to them all.

While I think atomicity is important for linking, I also feel that the developed thought needs to be long and developed enough to warrant an independent existence.

Ironically, and off-topic, I've found a use for OneNote. Can be structured to help conceptually, and easy to have very tiny and often temporary notes, store data and work as a shared international enterprise. Once it is complete, everything could be put into separate documents, but, as a WIP. OneNote makes it easier. And, on topic, one of the issues was tiny temporary thoughts which wouldn't warrant existence as a separate document and which shouldn't be consolidated  until there's some clarity about the final form.
thanks, helpful again.  so there's atomicity (which is all the standalone single thoughts/notes) and then the developed thought, which could be like the molecule that pulls all those pieces together.  I am close to getting there.  It has taken me some serious effort to practice making thoughts concise, but the exercise is proving to be very productive.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #206 on: December 06, 2019, 02:24 PM »
thanks, helpful again.  so there's atomicity (which is all the standalone single thoughts/notes) and then the developed thought, which could be like the molecule that pulls all those pieces together. 
Atomicity has to apply to all notes. Linking requires atomicity else all notes will relate to most notes.

It is important to remember that Luhmann was an academic and reserved his zettelkasten for his academic work; his academic work was wide ranging but all fundamentally from one viewpoint. The original process is about reading, making notes, and then developing further thoughts and analyses all of which might be linked.
The people who have picked the system up are, it seems to me, mostly junior academics. Post-grads, post docs. They are gathering stuff with the intention of reworking it into other stuff. Everything they write will include a lot of read stuff slightly reworked.
Because they are studying in one area, they will already have a lot of pre-existing knowledge and will be in a position to comment on everything they read. When they do that, they will be producing developed thoughts - but the focus will remain tight. Though maybe not on the focus of the original observation.
Most of them define the original reading or observations as being outside the zettelkasten (personally, I think that's a mistake).
It would be interesting to see a section of Luhmann's zettelkasten in translation. I wouldn't want to be confined by it because my usage will be a superset of his.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #207 on: December 06, 2019, 02:45 PM »
Let's say you are watching a Popeye cartoon, making notes on Popeye.
At times, you might make notes on
  • his appearance,
  • his demeanour,
  • his speech,
  • his reaction to Bluto,
  • his reaction to Olive,
  • setting scenes,
  • plot scenes,
  • action scenes,
  • drug dependence.
The initial notes would simply be observations at a point in the cartoon.
The next sequence of more developed notes might chunk them. I assume demeanour can be categorised (and probably everything else too). This sequence will link to the original observations.
You might then have a further layer looking at changes and the way they inter-relate. More links.

You'll probably think it necessary to watch the cartoon again to do the same for Bluto, Olive, Spinach (etc).
And maybe even watch another cartoon or two. Multiplying links.

At that point, you will be in a position to summarise/analyse the different scenes.

I doubt you would need to watch many before being able to create and plot out new cartoons.

And you could do the whole thing within the zettelkasten.
And you could do it with drawings, not words.

You will, I hope, notice that if the focus of each note isn't tight, then linking becomes less clear and further analysis becomes more muddled.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #208 on: December 06, 2019, 05:25 PM »
I'm still interested in snippets. Worth keeping, but not worth the extra admin and effort of a processed standalone note. Tagable, but worth tagging? Web clips are very similar though some will be worth a full entry.
Easier to manage in a database zettel, but I don't think they're worth it even there. I think they would clog the system.
Luhmann seems to have been quite strong on exclusion criteria, emphasising the need to be selective.

I think I agree, but there remains a value in having selected notes that don't make the zettel. They are a tiny fraction of the universe of possible notes and an easier first search.

I've not decided where my snippets should go, or how to do them. I see web clips as separate.

I'm interested in efficient workflow and have little interest in a purist's zettelkasten (or a purist's plain text approach).
For this, I think I need a database. Or two. But I don't want lots of programs open.

Dormouse

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Web Clips
« Reply #209 on: December 11, 2019, 07:51 PM »
Having tried many web clippers, I've decided to stick with Evernote, at least so long as it still functions well. I downgraded from Premium to Plus because I simply never need the extra Premium features.

Bigger notes, worthy of longer term processing will be exported/downloaded as separate documents and incorporated in the Zettelkasten. This will be done when the value is realised, not necessarily at the time of clipping.

Others can stay accessible in Evernote. I will export backups from time to time.

Dormouse

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Snippets
« Reply #210 on: December 11, 2019, 09:14 PM »
I've not decided what to do about snippets.

The defining feature of a snippet is that it is short. And individual snippets are disparate and unconnected.
  • It could be a brief description
  • An interesting word usage
  • An interesting fact
  • A nice phrase
  • Ideas
  • Overheard conversation
It could be something I've written myself or have read.

In use, they're found by browsing through them or vaguely remembering that such a note was made (and probably then roughly when).

They are the sorts of idle scribbles that might be found in any writers notebook.

They really need to be portable so that they can be made any time.
Ideally accept photos (often the easiest way of recording something).
Word search and tags are useful. And easily found by date.
They need to be easily browsed and read.

I've considered plain text documents. Could be made in almost any program - SimpleNote, Evernote, Word, Google Docs, etc - and saved a page at a time. Somewhat cumbersome; individual snippets not easily tagged.

Writemonkey works really well with snippets, but it's not mobile and only works effectively for notes made when using the program.

Evernote is tempting, if I use it for webclips, but not ideal for browsing, though the client can be set up to work well enough. Maybe that would work better with a partner; I will have to check that out.

OneNote wouldn't work; SimpleNote might.

I think I'm contemplating a digital imitation of a pen and paper writer's note book or journal. Evernote as a major (or main) input mechanism. I'd need to see what partner programs would bring to the party. I know of RightNote and The Journal. And I would expect to be able to save  into separate documents.

superboyac

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #211 on: December 13, 2019, 02:21 PM »
dormouse, i am following all this closely.

I do see the value of being very selective and thoughtful about the official zettel.  I like that for a lot of reasons, mostly for the practice of being able to write concise, effective ideas.  Like you, getting to this stage will require going through a whole bunch of unorganized dump of stuff located in various places...other software, paper, notebooks, etc.  At first, i was thinking of bringing all these unorganized writings also into the zettel, and come up with a linking structure or directory structure (like you outlined previously).  However, that means i have to change the way i collect all these things, and I'm not sure i want to change any of that.  maybe i'll just leave those alone and focus on adding a proper zettel to the mix of curated, important things.

So this is what i have going on:

zettel in zettlr: this will manage the official zettel.  There might be other directories like dormouse for non-zettel things, but for the most part, this is for the actual zettel.
onenote: i like putting my clips in onenote, this is my active clip repository and non-curated notes right now.  it has a lot of stuff, most i dont really use.
rightnote: i have spent a few years dumping my notes in rightnote prior to onenote.  so that is still there since it has things the current onenote database does not.
Journal: sometimes i just want to write for no good reason.  this is where i do that, and i like it because its just organized by date, which is perfect.  mostly inconsequential stuff here.
paper notebooks: i have some good stuff here.  i dont know where everything is or how i would use it, but its there.

and then i have a bunch of writing software that helps put everything together.  Outline4D, scapple, word, indesign, etc.  i feel these are unrelated to notetaking and more for final output produced content.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #212 on: December 13, 2019, 04:57 PM »
That makes sense to me.

As I have said I see it all as a matter of workflow and efficiency. I'm now only working in one office and have no restrictions on software or hardware choices (I had freedom before, but only in some places for some activities). So I'm streamlining.

I see the functionality and durability of a zettel, but also recognise that each note is high cost: which means it should only be used for high value activities. And possibly there's a disadvantage if using it for notes that fit within a known and tightly defined structure (that's why I'm using OneNote in a specific project). I think it is particularly helpful for emerging structures and long term usage.

I'm not happy with my webclip and snippets system. I know that I'll have to rethink if the current Evernote beta becomes compulsory - but the alternatives wouldn't necessarily be permanent either. It will do for now, and there's not much learning curve.

I've not found an easy way of doing snippet browsing on RightNote, so probably won't use that. The Journal looks more possible, though actually Evernote itself is better in some ways despite having limited configurability.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #213 on: December 15, 2019, 09:03 AM »
OK.
I think I have the bones together now.
Everything either in document form, or easily convertible.
Software can be switched out and replaced, with no more than moderate disruption at worst.
Database programs, chosen to export easily to documents, for specific projects.
Potential to switch to use plain text if it seems better, with no disruption to what has already been done.

Onto the polishing and getting in to the habit.

Dormouse

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Web clips. Snippets.
« Reply #214 on: December 15, 2019, 09:19 AM »
Web clips. Snippets.
Evernote is a bit too central in both for my liking. If it changes too much, I'll have to find something else but the system is designed to minimise any disruption. And I'll keep exporting new notes so that nothing is locked up - that's pretty effort free and fast, so negligible cost.

I've decided to regularly import snippets from Evernote to The Journal. Seems simple to do, and The Journal has convenient document save options. And i can set it up to suit my eyes which is a big advantage over native Evernote client where I'm stuck with white text on black background - functional, but tiring after a while. Fully agree with comments that it looks archaic and the most recent monthly newsletter is from Jan 2018. But regularly updated - last month was the most recent - and a smooth functional workflow. Strange 'tag' system - but Topics seem to have the relevant properties and can be set within documents. And a journal format is ideal for snippets. An easier program for writing than RightNote - at least for me.


Dormouse

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Observation one: Archaic programs
« Reply #215 on: December 15, 2019, 09:49 AM »
I've noticed that many of the programs I am using most are now very old, often with interfaces that have changed little since XP.

Maybe it's something to do with me, but it's not because I'm a stick in the mud only using what I'm used to. Many of them were new to me. Partly reflects changing needs and circumstances - PIM type functions are less important.

One common factor I recognise is a smooth, stable, efficient and easy workflow. Often with developers who use the program themselves. Constant change always produces new irritations. Of course, there's always a potential issue with how long that developer wants, or is able, to continue to do it.

Dormouse

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Observation two: Individual Differences and User Interface
« Reply #216 on: December 15, 2019, 10:03 AM »
One of the things that I have noticed in this process is that the user interface suiting me is much more important than features. There's a minimum feature set, but otherwise it is the user interface all the way. Visual preferences have enhanced the effect, but they're not the only explanation - not even the main one. And I know that what best suits me in the interface may be quite different to most people. I noticed the same thing when I was looking at writing programs (and I still intend to get back to finalising that review).

Partly it's clearer to me because i'm not bouncing so much between programs and activities.

I think this highlights a problem with traditional reviews, which are often undertaken after limited use and consist of little more than a feature checklist. It's important to know what features are present, but that tells you little about how well a program will work for you. And what looks very good on first acquaintance, easily falls into disuse when little irritations intrude into your workflow.

My efficiency. My ergonomics.

Dormouse

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One further observation about my zettelkasten process.
« Reply #217 on: December 16, 2019, 05:32 AM »
I regard my source material as intrinsic part of my zettelkasten process. I realise that many seem not to do that, but I feel that my approach is both more efficient and more similar to Luhmann's. On the back of each note he recorded the appropriate reference source; books and journal articles in his case. I do the same for books and articles.

However, unlike him, I have the advantage of a digital zettel. I have many books, articles and other sources on my computer. I will take advantage of these to extract sections I'm commenting on. Direct linking to these is more efficient than simply citing them. So I regard all of these as part of the same thing. But only when there is a proper zettel note with a link. Unconnected potential sources are not part of the zettel.

I treat work I have produced myself in the same way. As part of my shift to a document approach, most of it will end up in document files. If it's the product of a database program, then I will export periodically or at the end of the project. If there's a note in the zettel, I regard that source as part of the zettel process and not an independent file; otherwise not.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2019, 04:53 PM by Dormouse »

tomos

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #218 on: December 16, 2019, 03:47 PM »
If there's a note in the zettel, it I regard it as part of that process not an independent file; otherwise not.
think this sentence got mangled (I *think* I know what you mean -- but not sure...)
Tom

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #219 on: December 16, 2019, 04:44 PM »
If there's a note in the zettel, it I regard it as part of that process not an independent file; otherwise not.
think this sentence got mangled (I *think* I know what you mean -- but not sure...)
I'd rewritten it but tidied insufficiently.
Thank you. I'll revise now.

And I do realise that this almost semantic, definitely pedantic, concern to define the boundary's position may be meaningless in practical terms. But it makes my head clearer because I know exactly where I am.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2019, 10:25 AM by Dormouse »

Dormouse

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Conserving cognitive effort and time
« Reply #220 on: December 17, 2019, 10:24 AM »
I’ve noticed that most discussion of zettelkasten seems to be about the perfection of the process with little interest in workflow or efficiency. Apart from a frequent attraction to database options that make IDs and linking quicker. Maybe that can be justified if the zettelkasten itself is the desired endpoint. Otherwise I’d expect anyone interested in working productively to maximise effectiveness. Which means expending time and effort commensurate with the gains.

Taking the typical academic, reading a journal in his area of interest. Let’s say an experimental scientist..
If there’s a paper very closely aligned to her/his (I was tempted to write his - are most zettelkastenites male, I wonder?) own work, I’d expect detailed notes on the question, the design and methodology, the stats, results and interpretation. With a number of rounds of reconsideration, comparison with other experiments, own work etc. Probably 20-50 notes in all. With a lot of time and thinking going in to it. And all at or close to the time of the original reading.
The rest of the journal might only warrant one note. Looking at topics covered, paradigms and stats used etc. Useful for considering changing trends in the field. A bit of a reminder of what’s in it. But not immediately useful, so undeserving of more time.

Seems to me that this approach is essential if the zettelkasten is to be a useful tool rather than an albatross hanging around the users neck.

superboyac

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #221 on: December 17, 2019, 04:46 PM »
I’ve noticed that most discussion of zettelkasten seems to be about the perfection of the process with little interest in workflow or efficiency. Apart from a frequent attraction to database options that make IDs and linking quicker. Maybe that can be justified if the zettelkasten itself is the desired endpoint. Otherwise I’d expect anyone interested in working productively to maximise effectiveness. Which means expending time and effort commensurate with the gains.

Taking the typical academic, reading a journal in his area of interest. Let’s say an experimental scientist..
If there’s a paper very closely aligned to her/his (I was tempted to write his - are most zettelkastenites male, I wonder?) own work, I’d expect detailed notes on the question, the design and methodology, the stats, results and interpretation. With a number of rounds of reconsideration, comparison with other experiments, own work etc. Probably 20-50 notes in all. With a lot of time and thinking going in to it. And all at or close to the time of the original reading.
The rest of the journal might only warrant one note. Looking at topics covered, paradigms and stats used etc. Useful for considering changing trends in the field. A bit of a reminder of what’s in it. But not immediately useful, so undeserving of more time.

Seems to me that this approach is essential if the zettelkasten is to be a useful tool rather than an albatross hanging around the users neck.
What initially attracted me to this idea is the prolific output of that guy, regarding writing books.  So I think it's ok that the process is rigorous and somewhat difficult, because the time spent on that fine-tuning and curating seems to be what makes the putting together of a book or something so much faster.  So i think the efficiency is in the ultimate output of these notes.  The process is definitely not efficient.  But i experienced decades of very efficient note gathering and archiving....and it has only resulted in a great big hodge podge of notes and ideas.  If i want to do anything with all that, I will STILL have to spend a lot of time going over and curating, etc.  So that's why I'm going to give this zettel a try.

I am currently doing two tests with it...a screenplay, and a book about basketball (analytical, not fiction).  I am finding the screenplay is more difficult to apply the zettel method to.  The basketball book is easier because they are facts and more academic in nature.  But I'm still trying both. 

Dormouse, regarding your sources...I still don't quite understand.  If you have pdf's of articles or even textbooks, you put the actual pdf file in that source directory?  and then you annontate it?  i was almost thinking you copied the text into a text file, and then annotated....but that would be crazy.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #222 on: December 17, 2019, 05:02 PM »
Dormouse, regarding your sources...I still don't quite understand.  If you have pdf's of articles or even textbooks, you put the actual pdf file in that source directory?  and then you annontate it?  i was almost thinking you copied the text into a text file, and then annotated....but that would be crazy.
Digital copies of articles, books etc simply live in a Publications file.
If I write a note on them, then they're moved to the Sources file in the zettel, so that I have all my links together. Probably no annotating or highlighting. Just the one link.
If i am examining the source in more detail, I will probably highlight as I go and then copy each highlight into separate notes. Quickly add the 1st brief note, then revisit for the better written 2nd pass note. I don't discard the first note, although it may have outlived its purpose (no time saved by discarding; there may be a future value in having a better detailed history of the note and development of thought). I keep all these on one document.
Further notes will then add and comment on cross links etc. These may be done at any convenient time.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #223 on: December 17, 2019, 05:21 PM »
What initially attracted me to this idea is the prolific output of that guy, regarding writing books.  So I think it's ok that the process is rigorous and somewhat difficult, because the time spent on that fine-tuning and curating seems to be what makes the putting together of a book or something so much faster.  So i think the efficiency is in the ultimate output of these notes.  The process is definitely not efficient.
I believe that Luhmann's process was efficient.
He didn't treat all material the same. I don't know what fraction of his academic reading made its way into his zettel, but I'd be surprised if it were more than 25% and probably less than 10%. Academics skim a lot, have a rough memory for what they have seen and only pay close attention to what is in their own field. A lot of reading ends at the abstract. They do also have to take notes in areas where their knowledge is slight, but they're required to give a lecture - but they'd be exceptionally skimpy notes. He emphasised the need to be selective in the reading and note-taking. He also emphasised the need to only do what you feel like doing when you feel like doing it - another way of improving selectivity.

Selecting the material to make notes on, managing the depth of the notes, controlling the time and effort spent making links - all these are an intrinsic part of the process, but they tend to be ignored.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #224 on: December 18, 2019, 04:49 AM »
I've decided to regularly import snippets from Evernote to The Journal. Seems simple to do, and The Journal has convenient document save options. And i can set it up to suit my eyes which is a big advantage over native Evernote client where I'm stuck with white text on black background - functional, but tiring after a while.
Because there doesn’t seem an adequate manual, I’ve been having to try things out on The Journal, so I accept that I might have missed some of the features I want.

So far, the biggest irritation for a program that is a diary equivalent is, despite hierarchical organisation, the Category and Calendar mode seems to works as fixed folders rather than virtual folders or filters. Evernote has this one nailed.
I’ve not found a convenient way to see all notes from a given chunk of days. Search requires a text term as the basis for the search. History will apply, but I think that’s simply backwards from now.
There are possible workarounds. Search for a ubiquitous word like ‘the’. Combine all categories and use annual or monthly journals instead of daily. Use Topics instead of Categories.
But still.