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Emacs has been my text editor of choice for quite a while already, and I'm pretty happy with it. But I've never seen the point to org-mode. What's the benefit over simply using a physical notebook to take notes and keep track of my schedule?

That's not the question for org-mode - that's the question of using digital vs. physical for note taking. And the answer probably depends on person.

For me, I went through everything. I've been switching around between paper and digital. I did GTD on paper, did Bullet Journal, and on the computer side I went through Workflowy, OneNote, using Outlook for tasks and some other things too. I eventually gravitated towards org-mode and stayed there.

For me the biggest advantage of org-mode over everything else, paper and digital alike, is its speed and flexibility. I ultimately dislike physical note-taking because my handwriting sucks. And other computer tools lack the speed you get from pure keyboard interface, and the flexibility of org-mode's Agenda system.

Yeah. Comparing org-mode to handwritten notes? You can grep through your notes, quickly refile, integrate with other software, use hyperlinks, and synchronize over multiple devices. But the same is true of onenote or evernote.

> But the same is true of onenote or evernote.

Not really. With OneNote and evernote you can't (literally) grep through your notes (yay cloud storage, the only thing worse than propertiary formats). They don't integrate all that well with other software, and you can't refile quickly. Way too much clicking in both to do even simplest of tasks, compared to Emacs-powered org-mode, where everything is keyboard driven, and you can do things affecting multiple files simultaneously from the agenda buffer.

About the only places where OneNote & Evernote beat org-mode is the convenience of embedding rich media in notes (in org-mode you have to store files separately and embed links, though there are ways to make e.g. linked images to display inline) and mobile interface. Mobile apps for interaction with org-mode are sadly subpar at the moment.

I can draw arbitrary diagrams and pictures on my notebook. I can write using arbitrarily big or small letters. I can write fancy formulas and even make up my own notations on the fly. I can use pens of different colors, and let the colors highlight the relationships between ideas. And I don't need to worry about “synchronization”, because I always carry my notebook with me. It's not all downsides for handwritten notes.

Totally. That's why in my response I avoided saying that one is better than other. It totally depends on your situation and use cases.

There's tons of stuff that is about infinitely more convenient to do with paper than with computers (even tablets). Fast arbitrary drawing, fast arbitrary coloring, being able to get a full overview quicker (if you use a binder, just take out all your notes and spread them on your desk - even three 4k screens won't beat that), etc. But nobody says you have to stick to one and only system for everything. Personally, I still make a lot of designs on paper - but I store tasks and project notes in a digital form.

> It totally depends on your situation and use cases.

Agreed. That's why I asked what other people's use cases are. Genuine curiosity. :-)

For me anyway, it's the same reason I like Lisp more than other languages.

Pairing with a client the other day, she remarked that she had a hard time following what I was doing. This is because when I write Lisp I usually don't go into it with a plan, because I don't know what I'm going to write yet. So I just keep writing "the next thing," and at the end, presto, a working program!

Org-mode is like that in its relationship w/notebooks. If you know what you're writing, a notebook probably is better, b/c it's easy to carry, doesn't run out of battery, has no load time, etc.

But if (like me) your notebooks have a lot of things half-started, scratched out, and replaced, well, then, org-mode may be for you!

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