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Last post Author Topic: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten  (Read 117605 times)

Dormouse

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Roam Research - a note-taking tool for networked thought:
https://roamresearch.com/

https://www.youtube..../watch?v=vxOffM_tVHI
I'd always dismissed Roam because it's online only.
I have 3 Internet links:
Fixed telephone line - slow when it works.
4G through aerial to router and through phones - faster but very intermittent signal.
Long distance WiFi - fast but can occasionally be down for days at a time.
The telephone line has been taken down by someone shooting it (presumably they missed something else), by a very high hay lorry, by a farmer ploughing it up, and by the power company laying a new cable. And frequently by other more common failures.
I can't trust anything that's online only.

OTOH, I've noticed that they have just said offline is coming,  and if I'm considering Notion at all for anything,  I ought at least to test out Roam, so I will do that.

Nevertheless remain determined not to be trapped in a database,  and I'd want to see how the much-vaunted links work when they are exported to individual documents.

Dormouse

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I would agree that such a feature would be good for acceptance of either MarkDown or AsciiDoc as somewhat of a replacement of WordPad in Windows. Perhaps even Word itself.
I'm starting to think 'Nail' and 'Head'.

Candidate 1 for setting the accepted standard for markdown - the plaintext community.
Candidate 2 - Microsoft introducing Markdown as an accepted format in Word.

Dormouse

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I'd always dismissed Roam because it's online only.
And, of course,  if it had local clients it might not have had to stop accepting new users.
Robust isn't a word that comes to mind when trying to evaluate basing a working system on it.

wraith808

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Plan D. Or maybe anyway. Writage. Writes Markdown and takes it into docx. Forces me to docx rather than rtf. Whatever - I'll go with the lingua franca. Convoluted workflow. But might act as lubricant in a workflow that's getting stuck. I've not tested this one yet.

If you use writage, you might want to also take a look at Writing Outliner.  It helps to organize docx into projects.

Dormouse

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If you use writage, you might want to also take a look at Writing Outliner.  It helps to organize docx into projects.
Let's hope it doesn't come to that after all my years advising people never to write in Word. Lingua franca is one thing but trapping myself within the borders is another.
But it is something to bear in mind.
When it comes to it, the majority of documents I'm sent to comment/review/edit come in docx format, though I know some were written in Google docs. Most of the rest come as links to Docs files.

Dormouse

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Zkn note system
« Reply #380 on: May 31, 2020, 04:32 AM »
Luhmann sat down for two hours in the evening.  Matuschak has two hours at 11 am. I'm just not that disciplined and neither do I have that kind of timetable. Matuschak takes some of these ideas from Christian at zettelkasten.de, so I assume he does too.

OTOH, I notice that they take many ephemeral notes they have to process later. I'm lucky in having an excellent memory, and automatically remember much of what they record.

I notice that all three use pen and paper for this initial collection. I agree at times that typing interrupts thinking where writing doesn't,  which is why I buy phones and tablets with good pen functions. Some things I write earlier rather than later,  but I doubt I will ever be able to make notes in book margins as Matuschak does: the irritation of disrupted reading from underlining, highlighting and comments in secondhand books meant I have a total antipathy to doing it myself - feels disrespectful to the books and possible future readers. Can't see myself overcoming that, even if I recognise the efficiency.  At least one member of my family works like that.

Christian hoards, Andy dumps - but both make sure that they have a working inbox that empties as well as fills. iirc they both conceptually use GTD (I rapidly found that system didn't work for me). I notice that Roam is built around forward and backward links and that the waiting list questionnaire mentions GTD, zettelkasten and theories of everything. Seems to be a semi-official zettelkasten system.


Dormouse

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Notion, Obsidian, Roam
« Reply #381 on: May 31, 2020, 04:53 AM »
I do recognise a huge amount of excitement about all of these, and two are still effectively in beta. Masses of plugins being written.
I'm a long way down the Roam waiting list and was tired when I installed Obsidian. Notion doesn't seem to have as smooth a workflow as I expected,  but that probably just means I need to learn it better.  Trello seemed more intuitive, but is at the stage of minor tweaks and additions. Obsidian has its development plan on Trello. All have kanban options.

Roam and Obsidian seem to be the most direct competitors.

I doubt if any would exist without plaintext.

I suspect that Big Tech is already following progress with an eye to developing their own or buying one out. Apple would want to take it behind their wall,  Google would want to make it work with their other research products or incorporate it totally. Is it only Microsoft that have any track record in keeping the independent development community? I'm sure they all know that at this stage  the communities need freedom to develop and would be inhibited by any takeover,  so I doubt one will happen soon.

Dormouse

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Notion, Obsidian, Roam - issues with markdown
« Reply #382 on: May 31, 2020, 07:13 AM »
One of the reasons I'm interested is that I'm very aware that my front end is deficient, especially since the android switch.
I see that they are all grappling with the lack of common instructions and sometimes with sufficient extensions. Obsidian, according to latest discord posts, suggests that they use HyperMD extension of code mirror; alternatively commonmark with a few extras. Development in general would I'm sure be faster if there were a common and sufficient standard.
All the community needs to do is avoid conflicting instructions and have a default acceptance of the need for any extensions proposed (though reserving the ability to change or refine the proposed commands).

I know it won't happen but as a potential user, it's very annoying.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2020, 09:02 AM by Dormouse »

Dormouse

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Knowledge workers? Tags and links
« Reply #383 on: May 31, 2020, 07:47 AM »
Everyone involved in these projects and zettelkasten seems to describe themselves as knowledge workers and what they do as knowledge work. Despite a mass of evidence that could be taken to the contrary, I would never describe myself as a knowledge worker. And I actually believe it would misdescribe what I do.

I have an excellent memory over a day/week/month but I have trained myself to progressively bury the detail. When the detail is buried, I retain associations and possibilities in an ever-flowing probability matrix. Useless at University Challenge,  always win at Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. This is a normal process, but many, or most, have tried to train themselves to retain detail when I have gone in the opposite direction. Some people with extreme Aspergers have a natural tendency to remember detail and work with details, but have very fixed associations, with certainties rather than probabilities. There are strengths to both approaches.

So back to knowledge work. I don't want to have a system that is detail oriented, though many people may. I don't need a system that will add flexibility although I do want one that supports it. I want a system that will store pointers to the detail.

Which brings me to the issue of tags and links. Links are always fixed and hard, even if a link network has a degree of fluidity. Tags are often described as fixed categories - but ad hoc tags can be regarded as a set of fuzzy associations. Ideally,  I believe, links should be variable in strength.

Everything depends on who is using it and how it is used.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2020, 08:17 AM by Dormouse »

Dormouse

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Input system
« Reply #384 on: May 31, 2020, 10:45 AM »
I'm visualising the input system as being like the system for a watermill.  The need is to get useful work out of a very large water flow that's variable in volume and speed. So you cut a side channel,  usually designed with an easy gradient at the beginning, which will eventually return to the river. There will be a grill, or grills, to remove rubbish. A side channel off that, again with a filter, which will go to the mill. A large pool to hold water as a reserve against a low flow in the river. A small pool ready for immediate use. A sluice with sluice gates so that the wheel receives the exact amount of water needed to drive the machinery in use at the time.

So lots of stuff is seen or read but never enters the system. There's a holding area with stuff that may never be processed (searchable, but not tagged or processed). An inbox ready for processing (any excess being returned to the reserve pool or archive). The processed stuff leaves the wheel tagged, and maybe linked, joining the central zettelkasten source archive. The machinery produces proper usable notes suitable for building who-knows-whats.

So for names:
Hoard Archive (the large reserve pool)
Inbox Vestibule (small pool ready to power processing)
Sources Library (archive that's been processed in the production of Notes)
Scriptorium (notes and all other unpublished material I have written myself,  essentially work in progress at all stages)
Reading Room (my published work)
Attics (processed items not considered worth keeping in Library -  I realised that simply putting them in Archive (unprocessed) or throwing them away completely might mean that they were processed again in future because they give initial impression of being interesting).
Chapter House - for anything requiring action: todo lists, emails etc.

Andy and Christian each have complex systems of initial scribbles which they sort into piles with each pile as a collection being capable of producing a single Note. I may do less scribbling.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2020, 10:45 AM by Dormouse »

wraith808

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Notion has functionality like Trello in terms of the boards.  I haven't used it extensively for that, however.

Dormouse

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I'll have to look more for guides and instructions.  I try the boards, but they feel clumsy and I can't get them to do what I want. Yet I found Trello intuitive.

I'll continue checking it out but hard to have a full go when I can't compare with Obsidian or Roam, and I'm unclear about whether I'm testing them out as note-makers and hubs, or hubs alone or for writing in.

For the moment,  I'll probably make notes using Markor or Epsilon Notes and work out where I go next later. #tag seems to be generally accepted now.  I prefer [[ for links.

wraith808

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I have access to Roam, and I don't really get it.  This is the link that they sent me to the help database that shows the uses of it: https://roamresearch...#/app/help/page/1308

It makes use as a graph database to map the vertices and edges.  A page on using it for Zettelkasten: https://roamresearch.../help/page/VURQiVZQR

Dormouse

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Thanks. It seems so important to get how something works.  I can see what it does and how it is also like a wiki. But that's not enough to work out if I'd use it.
I saw a set of very impressive Notion pages on Reddit - not that they did anything I wanted. I'll play more with Obsidian when I'm on a PC and try to find a way of setting Notion up.
The underlying question is whether I base everything on separate documents or use one of these to manage them. Trello is different: it can link to notes and documents, but doesn't make them. But the cards and boards are very quick and easy to set up and change. Notion seems able to do much more but doesn't seem as smooth.
I don't get Roam enough to know whether I'd use it, I can only read about other people's usage. Obsidian seems a good fit for what's in my mind,  but I need an android version to test it out properly.
I can test Notion,  and Trello I like.
I do like backwards links conceptually.

PS - I appear to have seen masses of references to transclusion since Nod raised it as an issue.

Dormouse

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Obsidian actually does do most of what I expected. All the markdown features seem to work.  I can get the preview pane to take most of the space; doesn't really help for editing because I can't use the mouse to change colours easily. That's not really a problem since I'll just stick to what I do now. Links work OK - though I saw mention somewhere of ability to link to a heading,  but I haven't worked out how to do that.
Be interesting when I can compare to Roam, which is further ahead in development. No obvious reason I wouldn't use it as primary note taker,  assuming it develops as you would expect.  Not an option for now without an Android version.
But easy to import my other notes.

Ultimately there's a question of search speed etc; impossible to guess where that will go.

Dormouse

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I've just realised that one big advantage of sticking to my current editing system is greater confidence that have the text clean at the end. I can simply save as text, and everything else is gone. Can't do that if it's a markdown file.

panzer

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #391 on: June 02, 2020, 11:57 AM »
How to Take Smart Notes: A Step-by-Step Guide:
https://www.natelias...com/blog/smart-notes

How to use Roam Research: a tool for metacognition:
https://nesslabs.com/roam-research

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #392 on: June 02, 2020, 04:29 PM »
How to use Roam Research: a tool for metacognition:
https://nesslabs.com/roam-research
The brain is basically a neural network—a mesh of neurons all interacting with each other.
I always find it very annoying when people use an inaccurate and incomplete description of the way the brain works to support an idea that is only loosely related to brain function.

I will try Roam out when I get access, but likening it to a mindmap with notes would tend to put me off. I appreciate that zettelkasteners believe in graphs of their notes, but there seems to be a failure to appreciate that the graphs mostly reflect the material coming in and the sequence of note making. They illuminate only up to a point.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #393 on: June 02, 2020, 05:09 PM »
Andy Matuschak seems to like fixed relationships between notes.
He treats tags as categories (though I've no idea if he uses them).
He uses fixed links between notes, and further advocates that the nature of each link be defined.
He also suggests that every note has a full descriptive title.

I like fuzzy tags, links that are often undefined, and titles that are only as detailed as you want to make them - and I'm not entirely convinced that titles are necessary at all.

I think that the more you tie down these details the more inflexible the pattern of thought is likely to be when revisited.

Dormouse

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Notion, Obsidian, Roam - progress so far
« Reply #394 on: June 03, 2020, 09:36 AM »
Notion - describes itself as all-in-one, which I'm not looking for,  and the kanban doesn't seem as good as Trello. I will keep probing: I wonder whether its database can be used as a writer's grid, replacing my current spreadsheet use. Very much on back burner.

Obsidian - very early stages,  so no point in getting hung up on features. Mostly looks like something I'd use, and ticks the boxes identified at the start of the thread. Slightly bemused by search only being within a vaults. I'll use it for now.  When I can,  since it is Windows only. The concept works well for me.

Roam - I'll try it when I can. I've seen $15 a month bandied around as a minimum cost when it starts charging. There was mention of $500 up front for  5 years access ($8.33 a month) on twitter which had over 1k indicating acceptance despite a 5 year lock in. I assume that raising money for the next stage has to be the name of their game right now, given the length of their waiting list. fwiw, you can lock in $4 monthly for sync with Obsidian soon as an early bird.

I have some concerns about getting heavily into a program with a community dominated by zettelkasteners because their thinking generally seems so different to mine.


Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #395 on: June 03, 2020, 09:39 AM »
So, less than a month ago I thought that I had my new system all sorted.
And suddenly it feels like all change without me ever using it.

The triggers were:
the new programs mentioned here
the pursuit of better editing
and consideration of some of Andy Matuschak's notes.

The revised system is less finished since many components and potential components are in active and rapid development.
The workflow, for now, takes me back to separate documents being key elements though link management is still in a database.
It fits, roughly, within a zettelkasten system. even if I'm not using it as such.

I described the workflow above as a watermill flow system, and it is very similar to the original concept. The different stages (managed by tags rather than folders) are all named after types of room or building rather than the usage. This is to take advantage of the richer associations of the words making it always clear where I am. The vestibule name is particularly important - a vestibule is a very small room and it emphasises the limited capacity. The idea of the reserve pool makes it very easy to chuck things out without working on them - they're not lost and still available. I decided to separate my own work from the library because I know exactly what permissions I have and reuse is easy.

Mostly I will be in markdown documents, but I will edit in rich text as previously.

Programs:

I can write in any text program. And probably will since I have a tendency to do each multipart piece in different software - I assume the different environment makes it easier to focus on that piece.

Dormouse

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Current programs for notes and writing
« Reply #396 on: June 03, 2020, 10:02 AM »
All OSs
Clipto, Evernote for clipping
Trello; boundary with Obsidian/Roam yet to be established

Android
Epsilon Notes
Markor
Pure Writer
Typing Hero
Reserves - Joplin, Jotterpad, Quicknotes, Simplenote

Haven't decided on sync program

Windows
AceText
Atlantis (when rtf is needed)
Editpad Pro
Obsidian
WriteMonkey
Reserves - Joplin, Scrivener, Simplenote, yWriter

Haven't decided about search. Have used DocFetcher, but considering a wider use. I won't rule out Copernic, but a Grep is more likely.

I'm annoyed with myself for never investigating Editpad before,  when I might have been able to get more use out of it. I'd simply dismissed it as a programmer's editor, but it's very good at text management which is much of what I do.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2020, 12:57 PM by Dormouse »

sphere

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Re: Current programs for notes and writing
« Reply #397 on: June 03, 2020, 03:55 PM »
All OSs
Clipto, Evernote for clipping
Trello; boundary with Obsidian/Roam yet to be established
I had never heard of clipto... it looks like it is a powerful option  that adds some automation to the mix.
Have you been using it for long?

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #398 on: June 03, 2020, 04:26 PM »
No.
Clipboard options on Android 10 have been reduced substantially so I've been testing options. Seems to work quite well.

sphere

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten
« Reply #399 on: June 03, 2020, 04:46 PM »
It looks like it has cloud syncing... but it also looks like it can be synced manually.