Keith's Notes


Mar 28, 2023, 6:08 PM

Some time in 2020 I guess I put together a personal wiki or knowledge base using github. More about that here:

This worked out really well for me and I've been using it constantly. Every time I learn something, this is where I documented it and I've constantly gone back to it to read how to do something months or years later.

One of the biggest pain points with this system was just creating new files. I had to figure out where the file was going to go, create the file and then find the index of that section and manually add the file name to the index. Moving things or re-arranging things was hard, and there was no easy way to link things via tags or anything like that.

Still, it was a great system that I managed to store a ton of useful data in, and constantly use and update.

In the comments of the above post, people suggested other solutions. One was Obsidian. Some weeks ago I decided to try it out.

Actually, backtrack a second. I heard something about LogSeq and that sounded pretty cool. I installed it and looked into it, but it was a bit complicated for my tastes. In reading up on it, there was a ton of comparisons to Obsidian, so I checked that out finally. Obsidian was much more to my liking.

What is Obsidian?

Basically, it's just a collection of markdown files with a bit of magic powder sprinkled on top of them. OK, a LOT of magic powder. But what I liked is that you could just start very simply. I pulled down all my markdown files from my github wiki and imported them into Obsidian. A little bit of tweaking to some of the links and my knowledge base was now in Obsidian and fully functional.

From there, I started cleaning things up, rearranging and tagging things and it's better than ever. Creating a new page is as easy as creating a link like [[Some New Thing]] and then clicking on that link. The page now exists. You can use hashtags to create tags anywhere. There's even checkboxes for task management. So in addition to knowledge base, I'm using it to track daily and weekly tasks. This might seem a little strange, but it's actually working out quite well. My daily notes page lists my tasks and has a templated section for taking notes on other subjects. As I do things or take notes, sometimes I realize I want to link to another note, or create another note to take more in depth notes. That becomes part of the knowledge base.

Then there is the plugin environment. I'll probably talk more about that later, but I have a few nice plugins that have made this even better. One of my favorites takes all the incomplete tasks on a daily page and rolls them over onto the next daily page. Fantastic.

Beware the Hype

One thing to watch out for when you start getting into Obsidian, or any other similar tools is that there are a ton of sites and Youtube channels and books and courses, etc. that tell you the "right" way to use the tool and how it's going to totally change your life if you do things exactly the way they tell you to.

To be fair, I've learned a few things from watching some of this content. Decent tips here and there, but don't buy into the idea that there's a "right" and "wrong" way to do this. And don't think you need to pay for a course or a book or something after watching some guy's 27 videos on the subject because "there must be even more I need to know!"

Some of it gets very new-agey and to be honest, feels a little snake-oily.

But don't hold that against the tool! I love Obsidian now and I'm slowly evolving the way I use it. Trying new things, using them if they work, throwing them out when they don't.

I'll probably post a few tips here now and then, but don't worry, they aren't soul-saving life-hacks. Just some neat tricks I figured out.