Experiments in note taking

May 14, 2020

Knowledge workers are living in an era of tooling overchoice. I’ve changed the way I take notes upwards of ten times over the past few years.

Commonplace book → Apple Notes → Evernote → Bear → Evernote (Second Brain) → Notion → Roam Research. With varying philosophies layered across those tools.

There seems to be a neverending supply of compelling blog posts evangelizing the benefits of the newest app, feature or philosophy. Each of which spurs my own creative impulses and has me ready to risk it all.

After using Roam Research for a few months, I was convinced I’d found a winner. Their concept of bi-directional links encourage dense, granular and meaningful connections. And those connections translate to very positive qualities: retention, momentum and serindipity.

But lately I’ve been feeling a familiar itch. I want to add my own keyboard shortcuts. I want to Prettier-ify JavaScript code blocks. I want to explore different ways of visualizing nodes and their connections. I’ve also been thinking about the security of my data.

So a couple of weeks ago I set out to build my own tool (they told me “don’t build your own framework”, but they didn’t say anything about note taking apps). View the code here and a live demo here.

Separately, I’m going to be “working with the garage door up” by publishing — in real time — my notes to this site:

I’m sure my approach will continue to evolve. I’ll continue to update on that evolution.

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