I came across the Dataview plugin for Obsidian as it was mentioned in the Discord chat group, and then looked at the forum discussion about the same.

This is a plugin that provides a query language which allows me to do a few things I had on my wishlist. For instance using the Day log note to also show notes created on that day. Dataviews works by using the ability of Obsidian to insert code into a note.

I added the following at the end of my Day log note for today:

``` dataview
TABLE file.ctime as Created, file.size, file.path as Path
WHERE date(2021-03-15T23:59:59) - file.ctime <= dur(1 days) SORT file.ctime desc ```

Which results in a list of files created on March 15th.

I added this to the Alfred snippet I use as a template for my Day logs, so that it will have the right date. I use fixed dates because then it will always be a record of notes created that day, also when I look back to a day log in a month or week etc.

[UPDATE 2021/03/20] In a conversation on the Dutch Obsidian Discord channel, Frank notes that my query above als retrieves any notes created after the date in question, because then the evaluated value becomes negative, which is also smaller than 1 days. I hadn't noticed as I hadn't looked back yet to an earlier day note. So it needs, as Maarten suggested, an additional statement to exclude those negative values, along the lines of and date(2021-03-15T23:59:59) - file.ctime >= dur(0 days)

Are you a Dutch speaking or Netherlands based Obsidian user? Would it be fun/interesting to have an on-line meet-up and compare notes (:D) on how you use Obsidian and for which purposes?
Ben jij een nederlandstalige of in Nederland wonende Obsidian gebruiker? Zou het leuk/interessant zijn om een online sessie te houden om onderling te vergelijken hoe we Obsidian gebruiken en voor welke doelen?

I have started the migration of material out of Evernote in earnest. The idea is to make my Evernotes available in Obsidian in markdown. I don’t want all that stuff from Evernote to clutter up my current collection in Obsidian, so I am creating a second Obsidian Vault, in which all Evernote exported material will reside. This way it is available in Obsidian, but separate from the more organised material.

The route to getting there is:

  1. Exporting Evernote notebooks 1 by 1 as ENEX file (Evernote’s xml format)
  2. Importing each ENEX file into Joplin as markdown as a separate notebook. Joplin is a well working note making app in its own right. Here I use it solely to translate ENEX files to markdown.
  3. Exporting the Joplin notebook as markdown to the location of the Obsidian Vault

I notice that sometimes importing ENEX doesn’t work perfectly. Usually because of some special characters used in a note or title of a note, sometimes because of the included images etc. Sometimes doing it again fixes it. Sometimes it isn’t. I’m not worried about that. I have the ENEX files available as archive, and can search them as well. Also none of it will likely be critical information, as I haven’t been missing it in the past 8 months or so that I didn’t use Evernote.
[UPDATE: What helps to fix imports into Joplin is removing large PDF’s included in Evernotes, as well as removing special characters from note titles (specifically underscores and commas, and adding titles to unnamed notes.]
[UPDATE 2: All material is now exported from Evernote, transformed in Joplin and exported again as regular markdown]

Having done this export / import, this completes my withdrawal from Evernote after I stopped using it last September, something I wanted to do since 2016 at least. I need to cancel my subscription by June, and will delete the notes in Evernote beforehand. Judging by my subscription history I have used exactly 10 years, from October 2010 to September 2020.

I have changed the way I add date tags to my PKM notes. It used to be in the form of #2021- #2021-02-26. This as my main viewer on these notes, Obsidian, only supports search on full tag names, so searching on #2021- does not surface #2021-02 as tag. In December Obsidian introduced nested tags, which you can do by adding a / in between, like in #maintag/subtag/subsubtag etc. Normally I am adverse to sorting tags into hierarchies, tags are not categories after all. But for dates a nested hierarchy is useful: now I can add #2021/02/26 as tag, but in search that will return results for #2021/ and for #2021/02 too. It took a bit of time, but I’ve now replaced all my old date related tags with the new nested tags. An added benefit is that it cleans up my taglist enormously, as all tags related to a year are collapsed into one.

There is a new community built plugin available for Obsidian: Journey.

It’s a tool that figures out the connecting path between two notes. When you give it note A as starting point, and B as destination it will show the notes between that build a path from A to B. There are settings to exclude specific folders, backlinks, or not use #tags as connecting pivot, or ignore notes that have more than a certain number of links (your indexes, tables of content, outlines etc). It’s a useful way to let myself be surprised by connections through my notes and notions, to see how my thinking is linked. That is valuable when asking questions of my notes, and interacting with it to further my own thinking. It also has ‘I’m feeling lucky’ button that selects two notes at random to explore if a path exists between them.

Some discussion about the Journey plugin with feature descriptions and screenshots is in the Obsidian forum. To install it, you can find the plugin by searching Community plugins in Obsidian’s settings.

(found through Frank Meeuwsen‘s daily automated e-mail with the latest Obsidian discussions from the Obsidian Forum and the subreddits for Obsidian, Zettelkasten and notetaking.)

Writing my Notions and notes these past months as part of my revamped personal knowledge management system, I realised as the collection grew that using the collection as a thinking tool also requires remembering more of what is in there. Not to make the notes superfluous but to have more top of mind material that serves as a starting point in interacting with the notes I have, as well as to be able to weave that more easily into current tasks and work. I also expect it to aid creativity, as a large chunk of creativity is recombination of previous elements, and remembering more elements lowers the threshold to new combinations.

Both in Andy Matuschaks notes and in this long article by Michael Nielsen about his use of Anki, spaced repetition is discussed in the context of note taking, and it got me thinking (I write ‘thinking’, but it was as much working through the mentioned material and distilling the concepts key to me from it, as it was chewing on it mentally and adding that to those same notes. Thinking is more interacting with my PKM, rather than sitting down looking into the middle distance as per Rodin’s bronze).

Anki is a tool (on laptop and mobile), that allows you to train your memory with flash cards and spaced repetition. I’ve used it in the past, e.g. to increase my vocabulary in French and to better read cyrillic script, but not with much energy or effect. It felt uncomfortable to be using card decks made by others for instance. Making my own flash cards from scratch always seemed a daunting task as well.

With my now much better set-up of notes however I have a great starting point to create my own decks of flash cards. As I am obviously not the first one to realise the potential of notes collections for flash cards, there is already an Obsidian plugin that pulls out questions and answers from my notes, and puts them into Anki. It comes with a wiki that documents how to set it up for yourself, including how to mark various types of questions and answers in your notes.

The key feature is, that I can add a question and its answer as a part of any note, and the plugin will pull it out and export that to Anki. It means I can e.g. end a note on three key aspects of distributed applications, with an Anki question and answer about those three aspects, which will get exported to Anki. Better still, I can add multiple questions in different forms about the same thing to that note, e.g. a follow-up question for each of the three aspects. Having multiple versions of basically the same question means I can phrase them for different memory hooks in parallel. This will enhance my own understanding, and allows me to place notions in specific contexts for instance.

I have now installed the Obsidian to Anki plugin in Obsidian, and the Anki Connect plugin in Anki (so it can ‘listen’ for automated input).

Some things I hope this will yield benefits for is:

  • making it a more deliberate choice what I want to remember long term
  • making it easier to remember the basics of a new field of interest
  • making the effort to remember a habit
  • improving my skilled reading
  • using remembered material to better connect new notes to the existing corpus
  • making it easier to internalise new / relatively new material

The way I’m approaching it is to have all my flash cards, whatever the topic, in the same single deck. This as I see my notes collection and all the stuff I remember as a interlinked network of topics and material. Splitting it up in some sort of thematic structure precludes a whole range of potential connections and associations, and is artificial in that it makes a current perhaps logical distinction the norm forever.

The coming 12 weeks or so I’ll work on two habits:

  • adding questions to my notes as I work on those notes, and
  • using Anki daily to review those questions.