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Don't start with figuring out a method to organize your information. You will end up overengineering your org method.

I think this is an important point. I like to start with a few simple rules:

- To retrieve information, I should know where to start: a Schelling point.[0] For me, this is the home page of my wiki. For wenc, it's a Google Doc.

- It shouldn't take me more than three clicks to get from my starting point to the information I'm looking for.

- Links/URLs will tie everything together. They are the edges in my knowledge graph. But as wenc notes, keep the graph shallow.

Then I need to be rigorous, reorganizing things when they don't work intuitively and adding new nodes when something I need has not yet been recorded. As wenc puts it, "discover your own data use patterns."

Wikis do work for me, provided it's organized around Schelling points. I've used and refined these principles in setting up wikis at my last 3 companies and it's worked pretty well for organizing a collective knowledge base as well.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focal_point_(game_theory)

What software do you use for your wiki?

I use TiddlyWiki (https://tiddlywiki.com). It's brilliantly simple to set up (doesn't require a database for example), has a small but nice plugin ecosystem with things like Markdown support, etc.

I'm not currently using a personal wiki, but both MediaWiki and Confluence are pretty easy to set up. Confluence/Jira licenses are cheap for self-hosted personal use. MediaWiki is oss and probably not going anywhere anytime soon.

I second Mediawiki. I prefer that for professional use:


Personally, I've been using WikkaWiki for years:


I would prefer something that supports markdown. Neither of these really do.

Dokuwiki is what I use. Easy to setup, easy to use. And with Dokuwiki on a stick there is a zero-installation, portable local option.

> It shouldn't take me more than three clicks to get from my starting point to the information I'm looking for.

I see this sort of criteria and really don't agree. There are many operations that take more than three clicks. Navigation a UI is a graph in itself, and we can handle way more than 3 nodes. In the same way that I can remember how to get to work, or get a book from one of my bookshelves.

Anyway, small point.

Trivial inconveniences.


There was a joke in one of Stephen Hawking's book that each equation included in the text cuts the number of readers by half. In a similar fashion, you can imagine that each extra step you need to get to the information will cut the number of occasions you do so by half. If you want the system to benefit you daily, in many areas, it has to be as simple and seamless as possible.

Fascinating observation, and could be a corrolary to Nudge theory [1], which won Richard Thaler his Nobel Prize this year, which says Opt-in rather than opt-out is more effective for changing behavior.

Underlying idea: friction disincentivizes.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nudge_theory

Yeah, sounds like the same thing.

I would not expect you could get a Nobel Prize for that, though. Maybe Scott Alexander should start submitting his articles wherever it is you need to submit them to get a Nobel in economics.

> In 2017, economist Richard Thaler was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for "his contributions to behavioral economics and his pioneering work in establishing that people are predictably irrational in ways that defy economic theory."

Proving that all the other economists are modeling things wrong is more impressive than you make it sound.

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