A case for MOCs

I don’t use backlinks that much tbh but the way I see it, is that if you only use MOCs that way then even if it’s a set of links that you gathered you would only have a randomly sorted list of links, whereas the value I see in a MOC is more than just a list of links, I can order them as I want, I can even give small comments to introduce some context as to “Why is this link here?”.

I’ve had both cases happen to me, sometimes I have an idea of a MOC I want to create for a particular topic, and so I create the MOC and then from there I create notes.

Sometimes I want to group notes that currently are not close, i.e., there isn’t a place(note) where I can see them together, so I create a MOC to make such a place.

I am in no way an “expert” on the subject, just wanted to share my thoughts on how I do/see things.

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I follwed the syntax “![[comments]].” and this is what I get doesn’t look transclusion
Confused :man_shrugging:t2:

@kai
@minhthanh3145
@Rishi

The implementation of MOCs seems very convenient to me.
However I have no idea how to actually implementi it in Obsidian… could you provide some guidance for a total rookie?

Thanks

Create a new note, e.g., Shrimp recipes MOC

Add to your Shrimp Recipes MOC note links to all of your notes in your Zettelkasten with Shrimp Recipes.

There you have your new tasty Shrimp Recipes MOC.

:shrimp:

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so basically, the Shrimp recipes MOC would just be the “physical page” where I’d store all related shrimp-stuff.

In this sense it could also being see as the navigation panel through the shrimps universe :crazy_face:

is this correct?

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For two great posts about MOCs, see

In my day-to-day, the MOC is a note, which contains

  • Links to notes.
  • Links to other MOCs.

You can use the concept to, for example:

  1. Bring structure to your ideas
  • Sequence ideas
  • Group ideas
  1. Group projects
  2. Group actions into projects
  3. Define a project
  • Situation, complication, Alternatives, Scenarios, Financial projections, Recommended alternatives, project implementation plans
  • High level design - Processes, Structure, Technology, Capital plans
  • Detailed design
  1. Structures copious Supporting data
  • Present status
  • Financials
  • Operations
  • Interview notes
  • Process maps
  • Sales data
  • Manufacturing data
  • Client data
  1. Group copious notes about a client
  2. Group notes about a disease
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnostic
  • Treatments
  • Drugs
  • Surgical procedures

You’ll find several ideas in the forum about MOCs, if you search for MOC, MOC of MOCs, TOC. I hope that helps.

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You can even use the Shrimp recipes MOC as a working draft of the unifying theory of Shrimp recipes. Basically anything (literature review, unifying theory, a large narrative, how features tie to product vision, etc) that requires drawing from various sources.

Personally, I think using MOC as an index is rather limiting, but it’s a valid usage. Furthermore, I don’t think you should try to implement MOC up-front, but rather consider it as a solution to an emerging need of organizing/sense-making a bunch of notes relating to a certain topic.

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Good points.

I’m curious to learn in what way you find it limiting? I might be overlooking things in my approach. Thanks.

I mean when the number of things you need to index become sufficiently large, a MOC won’t be much different from a detailed table of content. Instead I recommend thinking about a MOC as one grand narrative about the things that the MOC index. You can both have an index and a narrative in a MOC if you so choose.

It’s not the grand narrative, but it’s one of many. It doesn’t even have to be a completely comprehensive narrative, since the nature of knowledge is constant change. It’s just a narrative that pieces things together.

This way, when you want to add another piece into the MOC, you have a narrative structure that you have to fit the piece into. The narrative structure forces you to clarify and relate the new piece in a way that produces much more friction than adding another entry to an index.

This friction can be thought of as the tension between the existing narrative and the new piece of information, and a new narrative (which is equivalent to a new knowledge representation) is the result of resolving this tension.

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Great thanks for your explanation. Very clear!

Viewing a MOC “as a narrative” has clarified the concept for me and made my day. Thanks a lot!

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I’m just getting started with Obsidian. But this kind of thing is precisely what draws me.

As I see it, a decentralized MOC shares an organizational structure with folders—which I’ve been using my whole life—or hierarchical tags—though I’ve never used tags much until recently. But there’s the added value that you can have context and additional information in your MOC, which you can’t have as easily in a listing of folders and documents.

Klaas nails it in this use case

Or, in my case, with project management: Have an MOC for each project, with links to every document, which can include notes, PDF, Microsoft Office Documents, email messages, etc. The MOC and each item in the MOC can contain a line or two of description or summary—not easily accomplished in the Finder/File Explorer/File Manager.

I’m calling my MOCs “Dashboards” because I dunno I just like how that sounds.

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I don’t know why, but your simplistic example and response just made this all click for me. :slight_smile: Thank you!

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Simplistic is good. Sometimes. :sunglasses:

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So…is a MOC Obsidians answer to Luhmans’ Hub Note as seen here -
https://niklas-luhmann-archiv.de/bestand/zettelkasten/zettel/ZK_2_SW1_001_V

or perhaps more granular as seen here -
https://niklas-luhmann-archiv.de/bestand/zettelkasten/zettel/ZK_1_NB_1_1_V

Also, curious how Obsidian users are tracking bibliographic data as seen here
https://niklas-luhmann-archiv.de/bestand/zettelkasten/zettel/ZK_2_BG1b_134_V

Are you creating a file with multiple pages for each reference or perhaps tracking it all in a single note, its own MOC, or something else?

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Hey, thanks for sharing this post @kai

I have a question regarding the decentralized approach, is It against Zettelkasten approach?
in the book “How to Take Smart Notes […]” I’ve stumbled across a statement that says that organizing notes into different Projects OR Folders OR segments ruins the whole idea of Zettelkasten (Because no one connects ideas by the date, folder).

I know I shouldn’t treat everything in this book as the holy truth. But it bothers me. That’s why I ask

To be honest, I think I prefer a visual approach anyway. I prefer mindmapping and corkboarding. Is there any mindmapping first software that integrates with Obsidian?

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Dear @Cloufish,

In that book, Ahrens said that Niklas Luhman uses a Note as an Index for the topic to easily surf the relevant note within that topic is similar to the MOC from my perspective.
And for the Projects, he also mentions in step 6 from Writing paper step by step from that book

  1. After a while, you will have developed ideas far enough to decide on a
    topic to write about. Your topic is now based on what you have, not based on
    an unfounded idea about what the literature you are about to read might
    provide. Look through the connections and collect all the relevant notes on
    this topic (most of the relevant notes will already be in partial order), copy
    them onto your “desktop”[6] and bring them in order. Look for what is
    missing and what is redundant. Don’t wait until you have everything
    together. Rather, try ideas out and give yourself enough time to go back to
    reading and note-taking to improve your ideas, arguments and their structure

I think what he means is first you write the note and then you decide to combine the note into 1 new specific topic or improve the existing one, I think MOC is the desktop he mention.
The idea of Zettelkasten is to remove the time wasted in finding a note in different places and mimic the brain by connecting the note (which by Principle of Atomic is 1 permanent note = 1 thought) to easily trace back the path of your thinking to that specific project (It cost less time than research that topic again or combine the note one more time when you need it after a long time)

That my point of view of the first half of the book hope my reply gives you answer

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