Can we talk about tags?
According to Sascha on the Zettelkasten.de blog, there are two kinds of tags:
- Topics -> Tagging everything relevant to a given topic
- Objects -> Specific to a concept (real or abstract)
Broad connections made through topics are messy and fail to provide precise connections between notes. Sascha questions whether “#diet” applies to your personal diet or nutrition science? Assessing the diet tag’s topical applicability supports Andy Matuschak’s perspective on high-value explicit associations. He mentions the terms a person uses to describe their notes will change over time. I have seen this behavior in myself. For example, when I write a log of my workout progress, I have oscillated between terms such as exercise, fitness, or workout. The more these terms change, the less valuable to notes become because I have not created meaningful links within the archive.
Tagging objects offers greater precision, which benefits you as your archive grows. Sascha uses a sniper rifle versus shotgun analogy to describe tagging. I believe single-word tags force the user to think topically. Andy Matushack takes a shot at tags too. Andy prefers explicit associations between notes rather than general associations through tags.
How can, or even should, we use tags for a more efficient purpose? One solution I have tested in my archive is multi-word tags. A few extra words allow you a buffer to better explain the concept behind your note. Consider my growing collection of images featuring Minecraft building details as an example. I analyze these images for new techniques, and then my children and I apply the details to our structures. The only problem is single-word tags limit my ability to pinpoint these notes in my archive. Currently, “#minecraft” reveals several notes, and not all of them are related to building. On the other hand, a multi-word tag such as “#building inspiration” offers a more conceptual look at my notes while revealing the information I want.
Currently, Obsidian allows single-word tags (unless I am missing something). I believe the app should support multi-word tags. I wrote a regular expression example to do my part in providing a solution for my requested feature. I’m not sure how the development team handles matching tags, or how complicated a task it would be to allow multi-word tags in Obsidian.
Depending on how a person organizes their tags, this regular expression
\b(?<=\#).*$\b forces you to add tags on a new line. I realize some prefer to write their tags on a single line separated by a #. Unfortunately, I am a novice and hobbyist at programming, and this expression was my best attempt.
In closing, I humbly submit my feature request for multi-word tags because I believe these tags offer flexibility and specificity not possible with one word. Ultimately, we all want to find greater connections between our ideas, and multi-word tags may help achieve this goal.