In reply to Oude notitieboeken by Frank Meeuwsen

Heel herkenbaar wat jij (en Alex) schrijft. Ik heb mijn oude notitieboeken over de periode 1988-2008 ergens rond 2010 weggegooid (nadat ik sommige pagina’s persoonlijke aantekeningen er uit had gehaald en gescand). Die van daarna zijn er nog. Die ben ik nu aan het scannen, zoals Wouter Groeneveld doet, n.a.v. de eerste Obsidian meet-up, en voorzie ik daarna langzaam maar zeker van een index in Obsidian waarmee het doorzoekbaar wordt. Ik gebruik een staande CZUR scanner met voetpedaal die een notitieboek scannen reduceert tot tien minuten werk. Dat maakt in ieder geval de eerste stap van digitaliseren eenvoudig (en weggooien mogelijk!). De inhoud beoordelen komt dan later.

T.a.v. uren schrijven en weeknotes: Ik open elke dag in Obsidian als eerste stap een daglog waarin ik activiteiten opschrijf met tijdstippen. Die gebruik achteraf voor urenstaten en voor de weeknotes (ik maak een weekoverzicht door de daglogs achter elkaar af te beelden en schrijf op basis daarvan mijn blogpost). Daglogs zijn ook mijn startpunt voor nieuwe notities over thema’s, meeting notes etc.

Steeds als ik de stapel notitieboeken zie denk ik, “ik moet er nog eens door bladeren en zien of er iets van waarde in staat wat ik nog kan hergebruiken”

Frank Meeuwsen

There are multiple ways to access Kindle highlights.

  • For e-books I loaded myself onto my e-ink Kindle (e.g. using Calibre), and for the hightlights made on a specific e-ink Kindle: connect that Kindle to laptop, and copy the file myclippings.txt
  • For highlights from all the e-books I bought (actually leased) through Amazon, regardless of Kindle devices or apps:
  • While reading a book on an e-ink Kindle, open the three dot menu, select Notes, and export notes, and it will be send to the e-mail address connected to my Amazon account.
  • There are multiple ways to access Nova2 highlights/notes:

  • Attach device over USB and download files to disk or to e.g. Zotero
  • Sync note files to Evernote and export/process from there.
  • This is a brief description of how I make my ‘notions’, which are permanent notes I keep as part of my private digital garden (titled ‘Garden of the Forking Paths‘). I choose a title and type “.nu” which inserts the current timestamp (as shown above in the title), ensuring unique titles. I use Alfred (and previously used TextExpander) for such keyboard shortcuts. This means I don’t have to use e.g. the ‘Zettelkasten’ plugin for my note taking tool Obsidian, or deal with the fact that such plugins never precisely match your personal preferences. It also means I can change my process anytime I like.

    If the notion is based on a blogpost or presentation or other material I wrote, then I will change the timestamp (and the tags at the bottom) to reflect the date of that post / presentation / document.

    Then I write the content of the notion.

    I include at least one link to an existing notion e.g. something like [[Notes input tactics 20200728173504]], but usually more.

    If I think it needs more work then I can do now, I add the tag #aanscherpen (Dutch for ‘sharpen’)

    Where applicable I include references of one or more of three types:
    Ref: something I just directly name here, a person, book, or ‘my presentation 2018 at conference X’
    Ref blog: the url to one of my own bloposts
    Ref Zotero: something that can be found in my reference library in Zotero.

    I add tags of different varieties, either inline or underneath the note’s content:

    • tags naming the reasons and associations why I made the note, what triggered my interest. (An article ‘the 10 biggest tech developments to watch in 2021’ might be tagged ‘prediction’ and ‘2021’ e.g.)
    • tags as the terms with which I think my future self should be able to find them,
    • tags allowing search in different languages (I write notes in 3 language, but have notes with parts in at least 4 other languages which I can read ok enough to keep the original),
    • tags denoting some status or action (urgent, waiting, sharpen etc)
    • tags which look like #2020-, #2020-09, #2020-0913, which represent the year, year and month, and date of the creation of the note. This is done by using a shortcut (“/now”) as well. These tags allow me to search by year, month and exact date, as well as allow me to create timelines if needed. E.g. the screenshot below shows my Notions dated July 2003, found by searching the tag #2003-07

    This morning I wrote my 300th notion, the term I use for my permanent notes (it was on how the societal impacts of novel infrastructures change the scope and paths of your empathy). These notions I started writing from July 8th, so it took about two months. I hadn’t written almost any in the past week or two, and that felt uncomfortable. Thinking about it I realised I wasn’t going through my old presentations as much anymore, and just picking a presentation from the list helped me get back into it. Regularly those presentations contain 1 idea per slide, so they are a rich source. A second much used source are my existing blog posts. Each day I look at which postings I created on this date in the previous 17 years of this blog.

    These first 300 notions are mostly my notions, the things that are core to my thinking about my own work, and the things I internalised over the past 25 years or so, of doing that work. Likely there will be a point where I’ve worked through most of my existing material, and new notions will come more from reading novel material, reading other people’s material. This will take more effort I expect, because I’d need to digest my reading and think about it before lifting out the bits I want to keep. That’s different from what is now basically transcribing my slides or my old blogposts. Likely it will need a slightly different process, with more notes in the process of turning into notions in parallel.

    I just realised that it’s a month this Friday that I started using markdown textfiles and Obsidian for notes, and that I have not used my local WordPress install at all during that time, nor Evernote much. I made 4 notes in EN in a month: 1 bookmark, 1 shopping list, 2 call logs. Compared to 47 notes the month prior to it.

    Day logs and work notes are now in markdown files, internal wikipages are now my Garden of the Forking Path notes in markdown files. Those were previously in my local WP install. Bookmarks aren’t mindlessly send to Evernote at a touch of a button anymore, with the vague intention of reading later and/or having it come up in a search at some point in the future. Reading ‘later’ never really works for me (Instapaper never succeeded in really landing in my workflow). So now it’s either I read it and want to keep it for reference by adding a snapshot to Zotero, or I did not read it and trust that if it’s important it will resurface at some point again. Other elements in my use of Evernote I’ve recreated on the go in text files quite naturally: Folders for each of my areas of activity match up with what I have as Notebooks in EN.

    It feels like coming full circle, as I have for the most part been note taking in simple text files since the late ’80s. I started paying for Evernote in 2010, after using the free version for a while, and used wiki in parallel to text files for note taking for a number of years before that (2004-2008 I think). Textfiles always had my preference, as they’re fast and easy to create, but it needed a way to connect them, add tags etc., and that was always the sticking point. Tools like Obsidian, Foam and others like it are mere viewers on top of those text files in my file system. Viewers that add useful things like visualising connections, and showing multiple queries on the underlying files in parallel. It adds what was missing. So after a month, I am getting more convinced that I am on a path ditching Evernote.

    Time to start syncing some of my notes folders to my phone (through NextCloud), and choose a good editor for Android, so I can add/use/edit them there too.