A Sketch for an IndieWeb Bullet Journal

Over the past several weeks I’ve been thinking more and more about productivity solutions, bullet journals, and to do lists. This morning I serendipitously came back across a reply Paul Jacobson made about lab books on a post relating to bullet journals and thought I’d sketch out a few ideas.

I like the lab book metaphor! That’s probably why a notebook-note analogy appeals to me for my productivity tools. Paul Jacobson on A vague Notion of a more productive system.

I’m honestly a bit surprised that no one has created a bullet journal plugin for WordPress yet. Or maybe someone comes up with a bullet journal stand alone product a bit like Autommatic’s Simple Note? Last week after a talk I attended, someone came up to me who had self-published 400+ copies of a custom made bullet journal that they wanted to sell/market. I’ve also been looking at some bullet journal apps, but my very first thoughts were “Who owns this data? What will they do with it? What happens if the company goes out of business? Is there a useful data export functionality?” For one of the ones I looked at my immediate impression was “This is a really painful and unintuitive UI.”

Naturally my next thought was “how would the IndieWeb build such a thing?”

Perhaps there’s a lot of code to write, though I can imagine that simply creating Archive views of pre-existing data may be a good first start. In fact some good archive views would be particularly helpful if one is using a plugin like David Shanske’s Post Kinds which dramatically extends the idea behind Post Formats. This would make tracking things like eating, drinking, reading, etc. a lot easier to present visually as well as to track/journal. One could easily extend the functionality of Post Kinds to create “to do” items and then have archive views that could be sorted by date, date due, tags/categories for easier daily use. Since it’s all web-based, it’s backed up and available almost everywhere including desktop and mobile.

I know a few people like Jonathan LaCour and Eddie Hinkle have been tinkering around with monthly, weekly, or annual recaps on their websites (see also: https://indieweb.org/monthly_recap). Isn’t this what a lot of bullet journals are doing, but in reverse order? You put in data quickly so you can have an overview to better plan and live in the future? If you’re already using Micropub tools like teacup (for food/drink), OwnYourSwarm (for location), or a variety of others for bookmarking things (which could be added to one’s to-do list), then creating a handful of bullet journal-type views on that data should be fairly easy. I also remember that Beau Lebens had his Keyring project for WordPress that was pulling in a lot of data from various places that could be leveraged in much the same way.

In some sense I’m already using my own WP-based website as a commonplace book (or as Jamie Todd Rubin mentions on Paul’s post a (lab) notebook), so how much nicer/easier would it be if I could (privately) track to do lists as well?

Of course the hard part now is building it all…

Additional notes and ideas

I started thinking about some of this ages ago when I prototyped making “itches” for my own website. And isn’t this just a public-facing to-do list? I don’t immediately see a to-do list entry on the IndieWeb wiki though I know that people have talked about it in the past. There’s also definitely no bullet journal or productivity entries, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t build them.

There are a lot of preexisting silos on the web that do to-do lists or which have productivity related personal data (Google notes, Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, etc.), so there are definitely many UI examples of good and bad display. For distributed group task management I could easily see things being marked done or undone and webmentions handling notifications for these. I suspect for this to take off on a wide, distributed scale for company-wide project management however, more work would need to exist on the ideas of audience and private or semi-private posts. The smaller personal side is certainly much more easily handled.

As another useful sub-case for study, I’ll note that several within the IndieWeb are able to post issues on their own websites, syndicate to GitHub’s issue queue, and get replies back, and isn’t this just a simple example workflow of a to-do list as well?

Greg McVerry has also mentioned he’s tinkered around in this area before primarily using pre-existing functionality in WithKnown. In his case, he’s been utilizing the related idea of the Pomodoro Technique which is widely known in productivity circles.

I’d be thrilled to hear ideas, thoughts, additional brainstorming, or even prior art examples of this sort of stuff. Feel free to add your thoughts below.

Featured photo by Matt Ragland on Unsplash

📺 Capsicum Bullet Journal App Review | YouTube

Watched Capsicum Bullet Journal App Review from YouTube

Leo Laporte and Megan Morrone discuss Capsicum, a new subscription app by Illuminated Bits. It's a bullet journal with digital washy tape and cool fonts, plus a way to visually track good habits, keep your Google or Apple calendar, make to-do lists, keep a gratitude journal, a diary, or more. A great tool for living your best (or your worst) life.

Somewhat entertaining review. I wish they’d talked about data import/export a bit. Entertaining that the app has some of the physical attributes that people put into their physical versions. Sadly no mention here of productivity porn however.

Bookmarked to watch on February 8, 2019 at 12:25PM

👓 Bullet Journal: One Book to Rule Them All | Jamie Todd Rubin

Read Bullet Journal: One Book to Rule Them All by Jamie Todd Rubin (Jamie Todd Rubin)
I recently began using a Bullet Journal. Longtime readers who recall my going paperless days might find this odd. My going paperless experiment was just that–an experiment to see how far I could go without paper. Eventually, I decided that there were good reasons (for me) to continue to use paper....

📑 Bullet Journal: One Book to Rule Them All | Jamie Todd Rubin

Annotated Bullet Journal: One Book to Rule Them All by Jamie Todd Rubin (Jamie Todd Rubin)
Isaacson pointed out that more than 7,000 pages from Da Vinci’s notebooks survived to today–a stretch of 500 years. He asked how many of our tweets and Facebook posts will survive even 50 years. Paper, it turns out, is a durable medium of information storage.  

Of course one also needs to think about reach and distribution as well. His notebooks have much more reach and distribution now than they ever did in his own lifetime. Where’s the balance? Blogging about it, syndicating to social media, and then printing paper copies in annual increments?

📑 One Tool To Rule Them All | Oki Doki Digital

Annotated One Tool To Rule Them All by Marie PoulinMarie Poulin (Oki Doki Digital)
Looking at some of those bullet journal masterpieces made me wonder, how much of bullet journaling is just...productivity porn?  

How many times have I thought this myself?

My bullet journal has to be the most spartan and utilitarian book of lists ever created.

For all the bullet journal related blogs I’ve seen on WordPress, I’m surprised there isn’t a related plugin that allows one to turn their website into an actual digital  online Bullet Journal.

🎧 The Weekly Index, extending the Bullet Journal (audio) | Colin Devroe

Listened to The Weekly Index, extending the Bullet Journal (audio) by Colin Devroe from cdevroe.com
Eliza and I have extended the Bullet Journal to include a Weekly Index – a two-page spread showing the entire week in one snapshot. It has been working for us for several months.

Recorded October 1, 2017.

📺 Chris Aldrich watched “My Research Process!” on YouTube

Watched My Research Process! from YouTube
From idea to finished manuscript - this is all the ins and outs of how I do my research - it goes quite well with this blog post, which I neglected to mentio...

From idea to finished manuscript – this is all the ins and outs of how I do my research – it goes quite well with this blog post, which I neglected to mention in the video… http://www.elliemackin.net/blog/tech-tools-and-research

My bookshelf! https://ellie.libib.com
Using the Gantt chart in my research planning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKD5hDGfVb8
Research planning in a Bullet Journal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHL9t9e-hjQ
Academic Bullet Journal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZ3Aacpelic
Academic Otters: https://lizgloyn.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/the-proper-care-and-feeding-of-academic-otters/
CamScanner: https://www.camscanner.com


💬 Reply to video

In addition to camscanner, and because you use OneNote, you might find Office Lens to be a useful phone app for photographing individual pages and transferring them directly into your OneNote application. It usually does a great job of taking poorly positioned photographs or photos from odd angles and cleaning them up to look as if you’d spent far more time positioning the pages and taking the photos.

For those capturing photographs of primary sources, I’ve recently found Google’s PhotoScan mobile app to be incredibly good, particularly at re-positioning the corners of photos and reducing glare.

📺 Chris Aldrich watched “Research Planning in a Bullet Journal” on YouTube

Watched Research Planning in a Bullet Journal from youtube.com
In this vlog I talk more specifically about how I use my Bullet Journal for research planning, including how I use my Gantt chart to block out time, and what happens from there.

I’m Ellie, an early career ancient historian working on Greek religion. I make videos about research, being an early career academic, and my work.