Read Example Workflows in Obsidian (Obsidian Forum)
One of the strengths of Obsidian is that it can be thought of as a toolkit for building machines for thinking. But this strength can be a challenge when you are first getting started. Without an inherent structure, it can be difficult to know where to begin. My advice to anyone just getting started is always going to be this: Just start making notes, make links and tags liberally, and see what structure emerges to suit the way you think (feel free to disagree with me, but please do so over at K...

I downloaded the sample file and played around with it a bit. Forte’s P.A.R.A. system seems interesting for the getting things done (GTD) crowd. The IMF system seems generally useful as a way for categorizing and tracking things. So too, the idea of “Maps of Content (MOC)”, but in reality, it’s just a clever name for something I’ve been doing for ages with OneNote.

Read Let the kids Roam (RoamBrain.com)
Violeta has just started a newsletter on Parenting and Everything. You can subscribe to it here. An account of Roam Research use cases for kids and the accompanying guide for parents “What are you doing?” If you’re like me, a parent who’s not used to silence in the house, and you find yours...

Some interesting, but subtle pedaogic ideas hiding in here.

Bookmarked on Jan 4, 2021 at 22:19

Read Looking for best practices for using web clipped articles (Obsidian Forum)
Greets, fellow Obs-heads! I store web clippings of articles into an “Articles” directory in Obsidian for reference, editing, and/or notating. I use these articles for business ideas, referencing, and such. But I’m not sure I am doing this in a manner of utilizing my knowledge system in the best way possible. I’m curious as to how some of you file and reference articles in your own systems? Do you keep the articles in an article folder, move them to a relevant folder, or do you not use folder...
Read - Want to Read: How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking - for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers by Sonke Ahrens (Createspace)
The key to good and efficient writing lies in the intelligent organisation of ideas and notes. This book helps students, academics and nonfiction writers to get more done, write intelligent texts and learn for the long run. It teaches you how to take smart notes and ensure they bring you and your projects forward. The Take Smart Notes principle is based on established psychological insight and draws from a tried and tested note-taking-technique. This is the first comprehensive guide and description of this system in English, and not only does it explain how it works, but also why. It suits students and academics in the social sciences and humanities, nonfiction writers and others who are in the business of reading, thinking and writing. Instead of wasting your time searching for notes, quotes or references, you can focus on what really counts: thinking, understanding and developing new ideas in writing. It does not matter if you prefer taking notes with pen and paper or on a computer, be it Windows, Mac or Linux. And you can start right away.
Read A $200 Million Seed Valuation for Roam Shows Investor Frenzy for Note-Taking Apps (The Information)
The shift to remote work has buoyed the valuations of several startups making productivity tools. The latest is Roam Research, which has raised $9 million at a valuation of $200 million, or about 25 times higher than the median valuation for seed rounds.Roam is tapping more than a dozen ...
Roam Research should really be going the Zebra route and not the VC funding route. If the 11 person company is truly self-supporting with its current user base and there’s so much upside for growth, they’d be far better off to keep that value internally.

The only reason for VC funding is if they’re looking to do questionably moral things with their users’ data in the future. Data lock in was already my primary concern before this funding round, now its a complete deal blocker.

The VC funding model means that their long term viability is limited, particularly with the competition in the space. The only reason for company management to take this sort of funding is hopes at a quick buy out and large cash windfall at which point their mumblings at data and privacy for users are moot. Buyer beware.

Aside: From a marketing perspective the photo on this article has me wavering between the ideas of a Northern European shoegaze band and an Arizona-based hipster religious cult.

A note taking problem and a proposed solution

tl;dr

It’s too painful to quickly get frequent notes into note taking and related platforms. Hypothes.is has an open API and a great UI that can be leveraged to simplify note taking processes.

Note taking tools

I’ve been keeping notes in systems like OneNote and Evernote for ages, but for my memory-related research and work in combination with my commonplace book for the last year, I’ve been alternately using TiddlyWiki (with TiddlyBlink) and WordPress (it’s way more than a blog.)

I’ve also dabbled significantly enough with related systems like Roam Research, Obsidian, Org mode/Org Roam, MediaWiki, DocuWiki, and many others to know what I’m looking for.

Many of these, particularly those that can be used alternately as commonplace books and zettelkasten appeal to me greatly when they include the idea of backlinks. (I’ve been using Webmention to leverage that functionality in WordPress settings, and MediaWiki gives it grudgingly with the “what links to this page” basic functionality that can be leveraged into better transclusion if necessary.)

The major problem with most note taking tools

The final remaining problem I’ve found with almost all of these platforms is being able to quickly and easily get data into them so that I can work with or manipulate it. For me the worst part of note taking is the actual taking of notes. Once I’ve got them, I can do some generally useful things with them—it’s literally the physical method of getting data from a web page, book, or other platform into the actual digital notebook that is the most painful, mindless, and useless thing for me.

Evernote and OneNote

Older note taking services like Evernote and OneNote come with browser bookmarklets or mobile share functionality that make taking notes and extracting data from web sources simple and straightforward. Then once the data is in your notebook you can actually do some work with it. Sadly neither of these services has the backlinking functionality that I find has become de rigueur for my note taking or knowledge wrangling needs.

WordPress

My WordPress solutions are pretty well set since that workflow is entirely web-based and because WordPress has both bookmarklet and Micropub support. There I’m primarily using a variety of feeds and services to format data into a usable form that I can use to ping my Micropub endpoint. The Micropub plugin handles the post and most of the meta data I care about.

It would be great if other web services had support for Micropub this way too, as I could see some massive benefits to MediaWiki, Roam Research, and TiddlyWiki if they had this sort of support. The idea of Micropub has such great potential for great user interfaces. I could also see many of these services modifying projects like Omnibear to extend themselves to create highlighting (quoting) and annotating functionality with a browser extension.

With this said, I’m finding that the user interface piece that I’m missing for almost all of these note taking tools is raw data collection.

I’m not the sort of person whose learning style (or memory) is benefited by writing or typing out notes into my notebooks. I’d far rather just have it magically happen. Even copying and pasting data from a web browser into my digital notebook is a painful and annoying process, especially when you’re reading and collecting/curating as many notes as I tend to. I’d rather be able to highlight, type some thoughts and have it appear in my notebook. This would prevent the flow of my reading, thinking, and short annotations from being subverted by the note collection process.

Different modalities for content consumption and note taking 

Based on my general experience there are only a handful of different spaces where I’m typically making notes.

Reading online

A large portion of my reading these days is done in online settings. From newspapers, magazines, journal articles and more, I’m usually reading them online and taking notes from them there.

.pdf texts

Some texts I want to read (often books and journal articles) only live in .pdf form. While reading them in an app-specific setting has previously been my preference, I’ve taken to reading them from within browsers. I’ll explain why in just a moment, but it has to do with a tool that treats this method the same as the general online modality. I’ll note that most of the .pdf  specific apps have dreadful data export—if any.

Reading e-books (Kindle, e-readers, etc.)

If it’s not online or in .pdf format, I’m usually reading books within a Kindle or other e-reading device. These are usually fairly easy to add highlights, annotations, and notes to. While there are some paid apps that can extract these notes, I don’t find it too difficult to find the raw file and cut and paste the data into my notebook of choice. Once there, going through my notes, reformatting them (if necessary), tagging them and expanding on them is not only relatively straightforward, but it also serves as a simple method for doing a first pass of spaced repetition and review for better long term recall.

Lectures

Naturally taking notes from live lectures, audiobooks, and other spoken events occurs, but more often in these cases, I’m typically able to type them directly into my notebook of preference or I’m using something like my digital Livescribe pen for notes which get converted by OCR and are easy enough to convert in bulk into a digital notebook. I won’t belabor this part further, though if others have quick methods, I’d love to hear them.

Physical books

While I love a physical book 10x more than the next 100 people, I’ve been trying to stay away from them because I find that though they’re easy to highlight, underline, and annotate the margins, it takes too much time and effort (generally useless for memory purposes for me) to transfer these notes into a digital notebook setting. And after all, it’s the time saving piece I’m after here, so my preference is to read in some digital format if at all possible.

A potential solution for most of these modalities

For several years now, I’ve been enamored of the online Hypothes.is annotation tool. It’s open source, allows me reasonable access to my data from the (free) hosted version, and has a simple, beautiful, and fast process for bookmarking, highlighting, and annotating online texts on desktop and mobile. It works exceptionally well for both web pages and when reading .pdf texts within a browser window.

I’ve used it daily to make several thousand annotations on 800+ online web pages and documents. I’m not sure how I managed without it before. It’s the note taking tool I wished I’d always had. It’s a fun and welcome part of my daily life. It does exactly what I want it to and generally stays out of the way otherwise. I love it and recommend it unreservedly. It’s helped me to think more deeply and interact more directly with countless texts.

When reading on desktop or mobile platforms, it’s very simple to tap a browser extension and have all their functionality immediately available. I can quickly highlight a section of a text and their UI pops open to allow me to annotate, tag it, and publish. I feel like it’s even faster than posting something to Twitter. It is fantastically elegant.

The one problem I have with it is that while it’s great for collecting and aggregating my note data into my Hypothes.is account, there’s not much I can do with it once it’s there. It’s missing the notebook functionality some of these other services provide. I wish I could plug all my annotation and highlight content into spaced repetition systems or move it around and modify it within a notebook where it might be more interactive and cross linked for the long term. Sadly I don’t think that any of this sort of functionality is on Hypothes.is’ roadmap any time soon.

There is some great news however! Hypothes.is is open source and has a reasonable API. This portends some exciting things! This means that any of these wiki, zettelkasten, note taking, or spaced repetition services could leverage the UI for collecting data and pipe it into their interfaces for direct use.

As an example, what if I could quickly tell Obsidian to import all my pre-existing and future Hypothes.is data directly into my Obsidian vault for manipulating as notes? (And wouldn’t you know, the small atomic notes I get by highlighting and annotating are just the sort that one would like in a zettelkasten!) What if I could pick and choose specific course-related data from my reading and note taking in Hypothes.is (perhaps by tag or group) for import into Anki to quickly create some flash cards for spaced repetition review? For me, this combination would be my dream application!

These small pieces, loosely joined can provide some awesome opportunities for knowledge workers, students, researchers, and others. The education focused direction that Hypothes.is, many of these note taking platforms, and spaced repetition systems are all facing positions them to make a super-product that we all want and need.

An experiment

So today, as a somewhat limited experiment, I played around with my Hypothes.is atom feed (https://hypothes.is/stream.atom?user=chrisaldrich, because you know you want to subscribe to this) and piped it into IFTTT. Each post creates a new document in a OneDrive file which I can convert to a markdown .md file that can be picked up by my Obsidian client. While I can’t easily get the tags the way I’d like (because they’re not included in the feed) and the formatting is incredibly close, but not quite there, the result is actually quite nice.

Since I can “drop” all my new notes into a particular folder, I can easily process them all at a later date/time if necessary. In fact, I find that the fact that I might want to revisit all my notes to do quick tweaks or adding links or additional thoughts provides the added benefit of a first round of spaced repetition for the notes I took.

Some notes may end up being deleted or reshuffled, but one thing is clear: I’ve never been able to so simply highlight, annotate, and take notes on documents online and get them into my notebook so quickly. And when I want to do something with them, there they are, already sitting in my notebook for manipulation, cross-linking, spaced repetition, and review.

So if the developers of any of these platforms are paying attention, I (and I’m sure others) really can’t wait for plugin integrations using the full power of the Hypothes.is API that allow us to all leverage Hypothes.is’ user interface to make our workflows seamlessly simple.

Read Convert copy-and-pasted rich text (italic, bold, etc) to markdown instead of or in addition to HTML (Obsidian Forum)
When copying a chunk of text that contains rich text formatting and pasting into most apps, the rich text formatting is preserved. When pasting the same chunk into Obsidian, the rich text formatting seems to be converted into HTML tags by default. Because Obsidian uses markdown, I think it would be more useful to have it converted to markdown by default (or at least given the option). If that’s not clear, then I hope the following is helpful. When pasting text into Google Docs, Text Edit, etc....
Read Best Roam Research alternative? Amplenote offers more for less (amplenote.com)
Amplenote and Roam are more different than they are similar, but there are still many common touchpoints. Below, we'll outline how the two compare as of mid-2020. If you would like to import your Roam JSON file to see how it compares in Amplenote, you can start a free trial and then try out our Roam Research Importer here. Paid annually, Amplenote pricing ranges from about $5/month to $25/month.
Looks like yet another silo version of a note taking application. I think I’d prefer something more IndieWeb.
Read Brain Expert Jim Kwik on How to Take Notes You'll Remember by Minda Zetlin (Inc.com)
In a new Inc. webinar, Limitless author and memory expert Jim Kwik taught the audience a new way to take notes so as to get the most value out of them. You should start using it immediately -- I know I'm going to. It all begins with drawing a line down the center of the page.
C’mon Inc. this author and the article are too credulous, at best Kwik’s method is the slightest modification of Cornell Notes…
#MyHighlights from “The Top 3 Most Effective Ways to Take Notes While Reading” via @UseHighlights fs.blog/2013/11/taking…

“At the end of each chapter write a few bullet points that summarize what you’ve read and make it personal if you can — that is, apply it to something in your life. Also, note any unanswered questions. When you’re done the book, put it down for a week.”

“Pick up the book again and go through all your notes. Most of these will be garbage but there will be lots you want to remember. Write the good stuff on the inside cover of the book along with a page number.”

“(Optional) Copy out the excerpts by hand or take a picture of them to pop into Evernote. Tag accordingly.”

Learning Paths Annotations and Highlights to One’s Website Using ThreadReaderApp

Some small pieces, loosely joined for owning one’s highlights online.

I ran across a Chrome extension for highlights, annotations, and tagging tonight. It’s called Learning Paths. It works roughly as advertised for creating and saving highlights and annotations online. With a social silo log in process (I didn’t see an email login option), you’ve quickly got an account on the service.

You can then use the extension to highlight, tag, and annotate web pages. One can export their data as a .csv file which is nice. They’ve also got an online dashboard which displays all your data and has the ability to see public data from other users as well.

Screencapture of the Learning Paths UI for their Chrome extension

One of the interesting pieces they support is allowing users to tweet a thread from all their highlights of a piece online. Upon seeing this I thought it might make a useful feature for getting data into one’s personal wiki, website, or digital garden, particularly now that  ThreadReaderApp supports posting unrolled Twitter threads to one’s Micropub enabled website

So the workflow goes something like this (with links to examples of my having tried it along the way):

Screencapture example of ThreadReaderApp’s Authored Threads tab interface

While this works relatively well, there are a few drawbacks:

  • The UI for the annotations is a bit flaky at times and in my experience often disappears before you’ve had a chance to save them.
  • The workflow misses out on any of the annotations and tags you might add to each of the highlights (unless you manually add them to the thread, and even then you may run out of space/characters).
  • The appearance of the thread on your site is simply what you get.

While the idea works roughly in practice, it isn’t as optimal as the workflow or data fidelity I’ve found in using more robust tooling like that found in Hypothes.is for which I’ve also built a better UI on my website.

Still others, might appreciate the idea, so have at it! I’d love to see others’ ideas about owning their highlights, annotations, and related data in a place they control.

 

Read Overview: Zettelkasten Method (zettelkasten.de)

Using a Zettelkasten is about optimizing a workflow of learning and producing knowledge. The products are texts, mostly. The categories we find fit the process well at the moment are the following:

Knowledge Management: general information about what it means to work and learn efficiently.
Writing: posts on the production of lasting knowledge, and about sharing it with others through your own texts.
Reading: posts about the process of acquisition of new things and the organization of sources.

Bookmarked Notational Velocity by Zachary Schneirov (notational.net)
Notational Velocity is an application that stores and retrieves notes.
It is an attempt to loosen the mental blockages to recording information and to scrape away the tartar of convention that handicaps its retrieval. The solution is by nature nonconformist.
Recommended to me by Jeremy Cherfas.
Replied to Cornell Note-Taking System by Josh CohenJosh Cohen (Art of Memory Forum)

Has anyone tried the Cornell Note-taking System? It looks interesting.

They layout looks like this:

NotesCornell-pd

Here’s a summary:

1. Record: During the lecture, use the note-taking column to record the lecture using telegraphic sentences.
2. Questions: As soon after class as possible, formulate questions based on the notes in the right-hand column. Writing questions helps to clarify meanings, reveal relationships, establish continuity, and strengthen memory. Also, the writing of questions sets up a perfect stage for exam-studying later.
3. Recite: Cover the note-taking column with a sheet of paper. Then, looking at the questions or cue-words in the question and cue column only, say aloud, in your own words, the answers to the questions, facts, or ideas indicated by the cue-words.
4. Reflect: Reflect on the material by asking yourself questions, for example: “What’s the significance of these facts? What principle are they based on? How can I apply them? How do they fit in with what I already know? What’s beyond them?
5. Review: Spend at least ten minutes every week reviewing all your previous notes. If you do, you’ll retain a great deal for current use, as well as, for the exam.

More details:

I’ve used Cornell notes specifically with mnemonic methods before. In addition to the date, name, subject area, I’ll also write down an associated memory palace.

I typically keep some space in the recall column to write down associated PAO, Major System, etc. images related to the key concepts, dates, and other notes and sometimes include locations along with the images. Sometimes I may make the notes themselves the memory palace by drawing sketches, doodles or other drolleries into the margins. Depending on the information I may also encode details into other pre-existing palaces.

I can then come back to the notes and do spaced repetition over them to strengthen the images, loci, and ideas. Depending on the material, I might transfer the basics of the notes over to Anki or Mnemosyne for more formal spaced review.