1. You might find something that B does that is just so difficult to accomplish in A, so you want to switch. But before you do, you should spend a week living with the difficult path to do that thing in A. You will likely find that learning the muscle memory to do that thing in A was actually the difficult part, and once you've overcome that hurdle it isn't difficult any more.
2. You might switch to B and feel that "now, everything is so organized!" However, it's very likely that you could have "switched" from A to A and you'd feel the same way. What I mean by this is that by switching, you've forced yourself to revisit all of your notes. If you forced yourself to revisit your notes without switching, you'd see the same effect.
Often, what we spend time on most, are the things we need to get done, and our true reference "library" is just Google.
I would argue that a pure personal "library" is actually just the archive of past projects. In that context, searchability is more important that good organizing.
I have that sort of hybrid approach. My "main" doc is a TODO Journal where I list my todos for that day (often copied from the prior day). The journal maintains a record of what I've done every day since I started two years ago - each new day is set at the top of the doc. Many of the line items are themselves links to other documents (all in markdown), which are themselves a mix of project notes and TODO lists.
I use Typora to edit, and WinSCP to encrypt on a remote drive that's backed up each night.
It is indeed a tarpit that traps people who mean well and legitimately want to Get Things Done. The knowledge work/"second brain" community will have you convinced that everyone who you run into online is a PhD candidate. The irony is that a lot of people intend to "simplify" their workflow but end up reaching for more things to pile onto it. The breaking point for me was the first time I loaded Obsidian. It is a nice program but it incentifies Doing Too Much, at least for my taste. Granted, what influences a person to even care about how they take notes varies. The chaps over at Zettelkasten.de actually advocate for a very simple approach to note taking that can work anywhere. Personally, I've found that it's best for me to do the bulk of my work in a Plain Text environment -- plain like the text box that I am using to type this comment plain.
1. You just create a new note,
2. give it some tags in square brackets "[[Tag]]"
3. and if it direcrly related to a note you recall making, make that connection
That's it. With time the amounf notes grows, and the amount of interesting connections grows too.
It is also important to note, that the process should note be automated. If you want to learn something, you need to make the time to write the note yourself, as opposed to simply copy/pasting.
I'm the same as you, but a month or so in and still learning. Personally it's a price i'm willing to take for what will be a lifelong mission
A lifes work of bookmarks isn't very helpful in the grand scheme of things
At this point, I've learned that a good system of notes requires frequent visits and pruning. Otherwise, it turns into an overgrown, sprawling dumping ground of tags and random notes/links.
To me, Zettelkasten, and tools like Roam, help reinforce that behavior by providing a reward in connections. My brain can outsource the connection-making, context generating aspect. I just have to be prescriptive about setting time aside each day to tend the "garden". Not a ton of time such that I get burned out. Just a little each day. As a knowledge worker, it seems like that is an invaluable exercise to build a habit around.
A person at this level of productivity will have an overwhelming amount of notes, and therefore an advanced system of organization is necessary.
I would guess that most people reading this are not anywhere close to that level, and likely do not need an advanced note-taking system. They would be better off spending time on their work, rather than spending time perfecting their system. This is especially true now that notes are often digital, and can be searched in their entirety in an instant.
Likewise for languages and frameworks.
Zettelkasten Method can make a lot of sense in contexts like that. If you are writing a weekly blog, keep building notes up and polishing parts of them for the blog. Then your note taking process is in fact your blog writing process, but a bit more procedurally free form.
If you end up doing this stuff as an end in itself, as in it becomes the task of your day, well then you're in trouble.
But I do agree with you that constantly switching to find the new perfect system is very unproductive. Partly because of the pareto principle, and partly because you actually get better at using your current system overtime.
Separate your work and your life and your ambitions. I'm lucky enough that I can track my work stuff in my head. If it ever gets to where it's too hectic, I escalate to a written task list.
My home life is similar. All of my life context is kept physically. I can see that the dishes aren't done. I can see when I need to take out the trash.
My ambitions, on the other hand, well, I've spent man-years of effort on hacking away at solutions to manifest them faster. I don't consider the time I've spent writing scripts and stuff wasted because I love doing this stuff, it's what I naturally start doing once everything else is sorted. I don't take a 'ship it' strategy to them because to me the point is enjoying the journey, not to get to the end as fast as I can.
I don't have to build a colocated kubernetes cluster in order to host a blog, but I want to. It appeals to my sensibilities to not pay hundreds of dollars for compute when I have a perfectly good desktop machine with lots of its own compute.
I've spent more time on keyboard macros than I'll ever save. But the feeling of power I get from having my world accessible with just a few keystrokes is great. And learning about how evdev and xbindkeys and the like work is interesting as well.
The hole isn't filled when I get to the end. The end is when the hole stops being filled. This is what organization will do to you if you're not careful.
Zettel* is not for everyone, just as GTD or Pomodoro or Agile/Scrumm or Kanban. But when it works for those certain people, it is like magic, and the productivity level just skyrockets. When GTD was popular a decade ago, it really revolutionized how I worked, and its biggest benefit was that it offloaded brain so I can really focus on what is essential, not having to constantly remember what I needed to do next.
It's the same reason I use markdown, git, vim/emacs/vscode, etc.
She could walk up to the slide cabinet, and ask "give me a theme" and we'd say "animals" and she'd say "give me a period" and we'd say "modern" and she'd select slides about the history of representative art about animals, in modern times.
When she'd put the slides back, she could re-enter the cabinet and select slides about Michaelangelo and followers, or about the role of the pediment in architectural design, and select from the same slides, but for a different context.
Amazing stuff. Totally indexed by herself, operated for a lifetime of academic teaching.
I think she "invented" hypermedia in the 1960s basically.
You could do a talk on images of x in medium y, but only indirectly do a talk on x itself and no context not captured in images of x in medium y. Thats a fundamental limit.
If however there was no index to x in y, it relied on personal knowledge x in y existed. So there was a lot of path casting inside her head, to recall states to determine if the effort of an exhaustive search was justified.
Isn't that true of any pre index scheme?
I know a lot of the mounted slides had 'newtons rings' which are signs of the medium touching the glass carrier, which is not net beneficial to the slide ageing well.
I had a look in the catalog, It is not listed as available when her written work is, so I think its gone.
The slides hung in sheets from suspensors, about 5 rows of eight columns per sheet. You would stand at the cabinet (it was a couple of 4 or 5 draw filing cabinet) with a normal projector carousel, and then select slides from the sheets. The sheets had keys like "french baroque architecture" or "corbusier" or "golden mean" or whatever to her was a primary collation key, and then she would use her own head to eyeball the slides and select the stuff by 'secondary key' given what she knew. I think the hyperthreading here is mostly notional the primary keying, was the sufficient vehicle to find anything given "I know I have a slide of this, it was when i was researching post modern industrial design in iron" and then she'd strike out into the stack...
From 40x40x5 I get to more like 10,000 to 20,000 slides. I think you might get as many as 100 sheets to a drawer but even noting exaggeration it was a huge collection, wide ranging.
In short, it’s a CLI tool that transforms a directory of markdown files with some special syntax into a static site.
A couple of highlights: It’s got support for tags, links, backlinks; it can generate trees of links to notes matching a given tag; the static site has search functionality; there are editor plugins for vim and Emacs.
The CLI has the ability to output your entire Zettelkasten graph as JSON, which you can then parse and use to write scripts. I’ve already used this feature to write a few tools for myself that greatly improve my note taking workflow.
Behind the scenes, Neuron uses Pandoc to convert the markdown into HTML. There is talk of a feature that would allow the user to write Pandoc filters which would essentially be programs that transform the Neuron AST prior to it being rendered with Pandoc. Such a feature would open up tons of opportunities for customization, e.g. you could write rules to parse custom syntax in your markdown files and generate inline HTML. I’ve already written a tool that does something similar  without the use of a Pandoc filter by operating directly on the generated HTML files, but a Pandoc filter would greatly improve the process.
All of your notes are simply markdown files stored on your local machine, so you’re free to do whatever you’d like with them: store them in git, write scripts to generate them, whatever.
The author is simultaneously developing Cerveau  which is a hosted web interface that allows you to edit your notes remotely via a web browser. It transparently syncs your edits to a GitHub repository. Unfortunately, Cerveau is currently closed source, but I believe the author has expressed interest in opening it up if he’s able to get enough GitHub sponsors to sustain its development.
If it matters to you, Neuron is written in Haskell and the project makes heavy use of Nix.
Every few years I get bitten by the bug and I go on a hunt of what's out there. Most recently, some colleagues were very excited about Roam Research , so I took another look, and I was very pleasantly surprised to see that, among many great tools, the good old TittlyWiki  had evolved with the times, and now you have "distributions" tailored to apply the Zettelkasten methodologies.
I settled on Drift , and over a weekend, I moved hundreds of notes I had spread in several formats over to a small set of Drift files. I even moved my entire personal web site (mostly audio and foodie geeky stuff) into it, with close to 80 tiddlers by now .
Porting was phase 1. The fun part where the methodology becomes really powerful, is breaking down the monoliths, just like you would do with app modernization into microservices. Taking longer blog posts and decomposing them into discrete, reusable components that can hold meaning under different contexts. The more I looked at them, the more I could find I could break them down into more discrete ideas. And I'm sure I'm not done.
Several weeks into it, I've become more organized than I had been in years, and I realize it helps me structure my thinking, and how to connect ideas.
Regardless of what tool you choose (and there are plenty) it's a great moment to look at what this methodology can do for you.
I do appreciate the local-data first approach, but that is table stakes, especially for something as personal and sensitive as a knowledge base.
The "free for personal use" is a rug that can be yanked anytime without warning. After having a number of closed source but otherwise free pieces of software do this, I do not want to climb the learning curve, nor do I suggest anyone else do so.
a) it blends source-view and render-view very well, I almost never use the actual render-view. Almost as good as Mark Text or Typora, and I wish VSCode would move in that direction either.
b) its BSP-style layout lets you make best use of your screen estate
c) (more of a gimmick, but I love it): When you want to change the theme, it randomizes the order of themes in the list. For any new vault I just pick the one that is on top, and have a different style for different projects.
Heck, other than some Unicode issues I have, my entire site is happily in archive.org as a single, snappy file right now...
I would 100% echo the timesink/tarpit comments insofar as unless you have a specific learning or knowledge management goal devoting time to this can be a fun procrastination game.
Many of the sources rate the book "How to Take Smart Notes" by Sönke Ahrens as a starting point (ISBN10 1542866502
, ISBN13 9781542866507)
There are a plethora of youtube channels and Productivity websites to be found so YMMV, I liked:
Bryan Jenks' - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5fd4SsfvECy0zzf8Cyo2...
Justin (Effective Remote work )- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkzyo69rqBoBJUyQ9jo53Bw/vid...
- In zettel we have a concept of Connections and not uplinks/backlinks. This lets us have circular links across notes.
- For visualisation we use Graph structure instead a of a Tree. For reasons mentioned above.
zettel is a simple CLI written in Go, so very easy to just grab the binary and get started.
The project is in a nascent stage, feature requests or any relevant ideas are more than welcome!
Our GitHub Repo: https://github.com/hackstream/zettel
(Yes the docs are generated by zettel as well)
I feel like I learned about the term a few months ago on HN, and then it's been cropping up quite frequently since. It's a pretty distinctive word, I feel as if I would have noticed and investigated if it had come up so frequently in the past.
But this kind of regimental organisation would never work for me. I don't have the patience.
For me organising means putting all my stuff on the desktop, which then goes in a folder "Old Desktop" when my desktop becomes so full that I can't add more files to it :'). It's become a nested chain of old desktops over the years. Yet I never seen to have issues finding even old stuff back. In fact it's surprisingly effortless, somehow. When I navigate it, it feels like walking through an old neighbourhood I use to live in but haven't visited in a while. Same with my notes mess in OneNote. For some reason it makes sense to my brain.
I've been trying different organisation methods in the past but they never stuck. It was a lot of work and didn't really make retrieval easier because it was never that hard for me to begin with. So I'm taking that as a sign this lack of organisation is good enough for me :)
Sure the org mode collapse thing is fine but the killer feature is being able to grep all of my notes in milliseconds.
Rather than using solely a time based ID like "202006110955", I'm adding the date to the file name. Links then show the file name instead of the id (e.g 2020-10-29 lessons learned.html → [[lessons learned]]).
Also working on ways to surface information from the Zettelkasten like a spreadsheet view and generated one-page summaries.
Quick demo here: https://youtu.be/hf2s8fZsojY
Lots of hype and lots of features in an app is a recipe for lots of wasted time.
For making a zettelkasten with the minimum of hassle and friction check out https://scrapbox.io
Currently I add my thoughts manually.
I'm still trying to find out if it has a significant advantage over classic note taking methods.