Building up knowledge on a topic through linking notes from different sources

Hi all,

I have been using Obsidian since the start of the year as a Roam convert, and it has been great. I have now built a useful collection of my notes on key topics in my field of digital transformation.
One area that is still a friction for me is on how to combine notes from various sources into one page for the key concept. Let me illustrate with an example.
I am helping clients to set up a robust governance for their digital transformation programmes. Hence ‘Transformation Governance’ is the note/file in itself. Now, I read books, blogs, watch some videos, go through trainings on the subject, and in those processes I type in some atomic notes on Transformation Governance'. I do connect those atomic notes to the 'Transformation Governance' however I already have 30+ linked mentions, and it's become difficult to navigate such a long list of linked mentions. Every time I want to recall something, I find myself going back and forth to those atomic notes until I find the one of relevance (too much friction). I then started to build some sort of MOC for Transformation Governance` where I put some free flow text that connects to ideas in those atomic notes. That was an improvement in the ability to surface what I was looking for. However, in this scenario I found myself having to re-type what I noted in the first place when annotating a source - not sure it’s a good idea.
So now what I do is keeping the main pane with ‘Transformation Governance’ always open when I go through a source and mainly developing the ‘Transformation Governance’ note rather than purely taking notes on the source. So in this process the note for the source will only contain unannotated links to atomic notes (so I know where an idea came from) whereas the actual annotation takes place in the ‘Transformation Governance’ itself.
It kind if works but still a lot of friction, in my view. Perhaps, it is my Roam influenced brain that is used to embed a block into another note. That way, I was annotating the source directly on the source page, and then embedding those blocks into the page for the main concept.

I would be grateful for your suggestions on how to improve this process. I do find the linked mentions helpful if there are not too many of them. After 30+ it’s quite unmanageable, for me. Building an MOC-like note feels better however requires effort to refine paragraphs on this page as I gain new ideas. I feel that this way the page grows over time and becoming more like a book chapter which creates another problem when it’s difficult to glance over the content.
Please provide feedback on this approach.


If the notes are atomic enough, would embedding/transcluding them into your main note / MOC help you?

Personally, I think this is the way to do it. I think of the source notes as raw material.

What to do about this depends on the content. You can divide it into >1 note if that’s reasonable, or add headings for structure if not (tho I guess anything that’s a heading could potentially be its own note). Sometimes notes are long.

I transclude headers or paragraphs from various source notes into my topic notes or my project notes. I rearrange the transclusions and add my own thoughts, ideas…

If you make atomic notes from your source notes, you should also add metadata to each and use DataView to rearrange the notes. I personally don’t use atomic notes, but this is an option.

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I find that if I have a lot of links in an MOC, those links can usually be grouped under headers and then transcluded into their own smaller MOCs.

For example, I have a note on “self-talk,” though over time I eventually created a note leading off of that called “using self-talk”.

These links could theoretically both be included on my “self-talk” note, though the separation keeps the notes more manageable in size.

The separation only makes sense after bringing the ideas together in the same note and seeing the patterns that arise.

Edit: oops, just realised this thread is pretty old.

no worries, it might be on people’s watchlist, as it was on mine. Thank you for the addition. I hadn’t thought about spinning off parts of MOCs into smaller ones. Mostly I’ve been working the other way around, building more generic MOCs from pre-existing smaller ones. Your suggestion is a good point to be alert on an additional spot in my notes where something bigger or new can start to emerge (‘everything starts out as miscellaneous’).

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