In order of time, chronologically

I’m afraid of forgetting, so I record. But merely recording seems like it creates a growing anxiety about the mass of information I have, but cannot easily access.

Tiago Forte designed a course and some principles called Building a Second Brain. It is a meta-system for making notes, organising and developing ideas over time, and last but not least – for being able to retrieve the information later on.

Reading about it and seeing some videos from the course really helped me escape from an information prison I was building for myself.

The prison got ever more difficult to break out of. It had walls of books and articles read and not read (but saved, the worst), films watched, and experiments made. Notes taken in a multitude of post-its, moleskines, napkins, phone note-taking and computer text files.

It was a prison not so much because the walls were so thick they were impossible to break out of, but because their structures were labyrinthine, and growing!

Getting a birds-eye-view is really helpful when you’re in a labyrinth.

And I slowly started to build a more organised path out of the prison. I organised everything in Evernote again (after leaving it for extremely poor performance some time in 2014.)

Evernote seemed to have done some serious work on performance and search, and I was thrilled to have a native, local-first-sync-later application on my mac. The formatting of the notes was customisable. It was fast and predictable.

The mobile app (on Android) had it’s flaws, but it was native, and started relatively quickly.

I kept on collecting things, and trying to make notes out of them. Building up a sort of knowledge base with a mixutre of my own and other people’s research.

Something about the meta-structure I had relearned through Tiago helped me stay on track and develop and cull notes.

Most importantly, I was able to find the information I had put in there. I knew where to look, and how to retrieve it, and when I did it was in a self-digested format, perfect for future selves.

But then came the big switch. Evernote was phasing out their native applications in favour of cross-platform Electron-based software.

I was no longer able to quickly retrieve files. I constantly had race-conditions in the editor when trying to type. The cursor suddenly placed itself in front of the previous word!

Not only had they made the search totally unpredictable, they also made typing, TYPING, unpredictable.

I felt the walls of the labyrinth amassing around me.

It was time to think differently.

I started questioning whether or not the way I used Evernote was healthy. I realised that what seemed like such a stable, quality product was actually incredibly frail, and that my information, my ‘second brain’, was even more vulnerable than the product that had encapsulated it.

Blaming Evernote would do no good, so I took ownership of the situation and asked myself if there were better ways of doing this – of building a personal knowledge-base of easily retrievable, digested information.

To be continued… Graphs vs chronology…

I don’t remember things chronologically. I don’t compartmentalize chronologically. Why should my output be based purely on chronology?

There’s a difference between chronology of observation and chronology of revisiting. It might be interesting to see what I’ve recently visited.



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