How do you manage News and History related topics?

So Pandoc creates an HTML file with just the content and no CSS?

Or CSS included in the HTML (what I would understand when I read self-contained).
I already use Pandoc for years now. I even use it to archive my mail messages permanently as .HTML and .TXT files. As said I haven’t found a good way to put them in .md files without losing too much of reading comfort.

Okay that would work the same way the plugins do then.
I’m not concerned that the plugins will stop working but that the website won’t be rendered correctly because the technology moves forwards and might break something.
Which would still be the case with Pandoc then.

If you are concerned about that you shouldn’t render in HTML but in PDF for example.
Don’t know if Pandoc can render PDF-A which should guarantee the PDF usable in an archive setting.

Do you have pandoc set up as an app or command-line tool? If command-line what options are you using to generate your offline version of a webpage? I’ve used pandoc to convert a few files between formats, but not to convert a webpage before.

Thanks in advance :smiley:


All the crazy pandoc options can be found here: https://pandoc.org/MANUAL.html

Thank you for the info. I had seen that in the --help, but didn’t associate it with web pages.

I’ll give it a try.

1 Like

can you please share your notes snip here as i am facing issue of properly using obsidian for news and eco sources…

is this the right way to take newspaper notes in obsidian or i am not doing the right thing here.

Please help as I am trying to build a system wherein I can use my notes to review and link facts to the bigger picture for proper understanding so that it may be useful for my MCQ and essay based exams…

Two suggested workflows (I do both, depending on situation):

  1. Download full article into Obsidian vault using MarkDownload
  2. Highlight full MD articles within Obsidian.
  3. Extract highlights into the relevant note on the given topic (and add highlights from any relevant source). The footnote option can make sure the highlights automatically link back to the source.
  4. Then you’ll have source notes (original source article in full, with highlights) plus your own notes (highlights sorted by topic or event).

Alternatively, if you don’t need to save the entire full article, but just a web link, try using the roam-highlighter extension for Firefox and Chrome for step 1/2

1 Like

I’ve been trying to find a good workflow for this too.

My vault is a mix of concept/evergreen notes, with history, news, and geopolitics. It’s been a bit tricky trying to come up with a system that’s structured enough to avoid being messy, but fluid enough to not discourage adding to it.

Similarly to your second screenshot, that’s more or less what my daily notes look like. I keep them in a separate folder so as not to muddle with the main notes. The main difference I’d see with what you’re doing, is that for certain (not all of them) bits of news like in your list, I [[make the entire title into a page]] for subjects that I think will have more to be added to them over time. In this way, from that new note, I can repeatedly link back to it in the coming days as new developments come out about the situation. Equally, I reference blocks from the new development articles to fill out that main, initial article.

Hopefully that makes some sort of sense!

Really looking for input from others doing something similar to improve the system!

Hello everyone, I’m new to the community; discovered Obsidian about a week or so ago. I’ve been enjoying reading use cases and potential solutions (and helping out where I can) as I think about how to leverage Obsidian features.

I have noticed that the more rigid the application (in terms of features and how they can be used) the easier to adopt, but less useful. Conversely, an application with a cornucopia of foundational features but no rigid strictures in their use leads to slower adoption, with the common questions being, “How do I use it?” That’s where we are.

On the one hand, Obsidian is very powerful. On the other hand, I wish it had more analysis features and visualizations; once you put all of your notes in one place, it becomes critical that you can look at the data in different ways to make discoveries. Still, Obsidian is very powerful, and as Spiderman’s Uncle once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

As I continue to review Obsidian’s capabilities and prognosticate on potential future features (it being a young product,) I’m constantly thinking about how to structure data so that I can analyze it in different ways, even if that means outside of Obsidian for certain functions. It’s important to think about note / data structure at the start, because one doesn’t want one’s notes to be like the “roach motel for data - it goes in but doesn’t come out.” Nor would one want to face thousands of notes that have to be restructured.

Reading the OP’s question and subsequent dialogue got me to thinking. I’ve never done any formal news/history tracking, but like most people I’ve certainly “connected the dots” in my head after reading a few articles, and have wanted to record these discoveries / observations. One tool I’ve found useful in many contexts is the semantic network. Simply put, I like to represent information as nodes of objects / concepts, connected with edges that have definitions representing relationships. There are several very expensive tools that do this as a primary function, but they’re very expensive and I think used by 3-letter agencies. One affordable tool that can do it for personal data is Tinderbox. When I read the OP question, I began wondering about how I would represent a semantic network in Obsidian. This isn’t straightforward because in Obsidian, edges aren’t named.

I’d like to start with some observations from the dialogue I’ve read here:

  • Hashtags are just a construct that Obsidian recognizes and can predefine the search term for you. Meaning, you can make your own identifiers and rely on the powerful search capability to not only limit your analysis to a subset of data, but also limit the graph.

  • Let’s face it, once you amass enough notes, seeing the whole graph at once isn’t all that useful. I’m embarrassed to say that it took me several days to realize that the graph has a search field that allows powerful querying, if you structure your data right. Of course, what “right” means is entirely up to you.

After reading through this topic thread, I decided to turn to Obsidian to see if I could whip up something quickly to demonstrate how I could use Obsidian to visualize data. I promised my kids that I would read the Harry Potter series since they did, twice. When a story has a lot of characters I start to get confused about relationships, so I kept a paper semantic network to keep it straight in my head. I want to see if I can do this in Obsidian. I’m using this example because it’s at hand, and I think you can use it to represent other forms of data and relationships. It took me about 10 minutes to set up.

For my network, each node would be a “thing” that has a type. One type of thing is a person. Edges define things like relationships and verbs. Since this is something I’m doing in an existing vault of other objects, I won’t bother using hashtags, but rely on my own defined keys instead. Here is the example note for Harry Potter:

type: person
# etype: knows
# etype: friendof
# etype: parentof

This note represents the Character Harry Potter. The type of object is “person”. Below this, you see three headings. I need a way to define edge meaning and I’ve used a heading as a key called etype, because we can link to them easily, and know what they mean. The list of etypes here are NOT attributes of Harry Potter, but rather, which edges this object is allowed to accept. After creating some other characters and relationships between them, I went to the graph and specified this search filter:

/^type: person/

This vault has many notes and objects, but I’m only interested in the relationships between people. I get this graph:

graph

Unfortunately there’s no way to put a name on an edge. We see that James Potter has some relationship to Harry Potter and Lily potter. Looking at the James Potter note (object) we find this:

James Potter:
type: person

etype: spouse

Lily Potter > etype spouse
Harry Potter > etype parentof

The last two lines show those two relationships, and you can see how defining the edge type as a header on the target note, we make it clear on the source note what is being defined: James Potter is the spouse of Lily and parent of Harry.

Alas, Dumbledore isn’t associated with anyone. If we want to ask a simple question like, who are friends of Harry Potter, we can select the Harry Potter note and check the backlinks. If you have data with many varying types of associations, this could be a long list of other types of relationships, so we can get a more concise list by looking in the forward direction with a regular search:

/\[\[Harry Potter#etype friendof/

And we get a concise list of Harry’s friends. sadly, if we want to do deeper analysis involving higher degrees of separation or inferences, we’ll have to step outside of Obsidian. But at least that’s somewhat easy. I just answered a question earlier today about extracting the edges from a graph. If we want to ask the same question (who are Harry’s friends) outside of obsidian, on a Mac, open a terminal window, cd to the vault root directory, and issue this command:

egrep -roI ‘\[\[Harry Potter#etype friendof’

and you will receive the same list. If you too want to extract all edges for outside analysis, a cheap way is:

egrep -roI ‘\[\[[^]|^]+’ | sed ‘s/:\[\[/ -> /’

The point is this. If we’re careful about how we set up our ontology, we can do a surprising amount of analysis on any number of topics, with minimal tools. I’m confidant that you could manage news and history if the data is broken down to component parts.

8 Likes

Now that it’s tomorrow, I wanted to make my point a bit clearer regarding the data representation.

Some details

The format of the note examples depicted here is not rigid. Notes about people can certainly have other information including free-form text regarding the background of each person. I only typed up some attributes of the people (objects) that would go into the header. I should also clarify my wording on this point:

The list of etypes here are NOT attributes of Harry Potter, but rather, which edges this object is allowed to accept.

The point is not to restrict connections, but rather to simply be able to define them. Therefore “allowed” is not an appropriate meaning. It would be better to say that those headers reflect the incoming relationship connection types thus far, or what you expect, for that object. There are no restrictions. When I created the first link in the graph from James Potter to Harry, I realized I needed a new connection type of “parent” so I went to Harry’s note and added that header so that I could go back to James and create the link. You could have a note as a sort of data dictionary that documents all of the existing edge types so that you consistently apply them, in addition to other “standard” attributes and their meaning. Rather than use a special prefix character, attributes are reflected as “key: value” pairs on their own line.

Other attributes

I also like to use an attribute called “isa” to be interpreted as is-a. for example, Dumbledore is a wizard. But dumbledore is also a professor and headmaster. Therefore in his note, we would also have:

isa: wizard
isa: professor
isa: headmaster

Who are all of the people who were headmasters?

/^type: person/ /^isa: headmaster/

In this example we really don’t need to isolate person objects, but if you have a large semantic network of data where “headmaster” might be referenced in other contexts, you’d want to be this explicit.

Since I was having fun with the books, I also recorded every spell cast, their meaning, and who cast them. The header on a spell note would look like this:

type: spell

# etype: casts

General description of the spell

To get a graph of people and spells cast, on the graph search filter:

(/^type: person/ /\[\[[^#]*#etype casts/) OR /^type: spell/

This search will also pick up relationships between people, but the search term to the left of the OR limits people to only those who have cast spells. Obsidian does not yet have a way to save searches, but we can store them in a note with an ordered list of titles and search expressions for copy/paste.

I would dearly love to be able to visualize this on a timeline, but that will have to be outside of Obsidian. It would also be nice to work with dates in a comparative way, such as, “Who was/were the President(s) of Chad from 2001 - 2007?” but we don’t have any sort of numerical comparators. Still, I’d code it as I see fit, and do that sort of analysis outside of Obsidian. In Obsidian, we still get to visualize these relationships and walk them.

How about news and history?

How you’d want to use this type of organization method does depend on the types of questions you want to be able to ask. Obsidian can do some heavy lifting of visualizing relationships so long as you account for them in the notes, and then just walk the graph. Unfortunately it looks like Obsidian only implements a single graph algorithm, but there are quite a few. It would be nice if the Obsidian graph settings included algorithm type. For example, one algorithm organizes the data in clusters (similar to word clouds) while another makes circles, and yet another does what Obsidian does now. However I will say that as a general-purpose visualization, Obsidian chose the one that makes the most sense if we are to only have one. Combined with the search filter capability, we can get a lot out of it.

Certainly you would want a large collection of object types to include:

  • Person
  • Country
  • City
  • Event
  • Organization (CDC, WHO, United Nations, etc.)

But these can be developed as you encounter the need to represent something new. You’ll know you’re on the right track if, after a while, adding new attributes, object types, or relationship types becomes a rare event. Then just start walking the graph and find the connections.

5 Likes

I have since discovered that a header does not need to exist in order to reference it. So we don’t need to define the headers in the target notes. Big “Duh” on my part.

1 Like

Also looking forward to your results.

This might be good use case for Neo4j Graph View Plugin.

Here is the feature request: Date/number ranges within search/filter

1 Like

It goes even more complicated (or, better, more complex - made by several parts):
‘events’ & ‘people’ are components of a new (and they are basic to a certain view of history). But there are also structures (let us say: the State, the Market), and dynamic forces (political interests, economic interests… other forces in play).
I intend to use Obsidian for both ‘academic’ and ‘news’ writing. I think I will certainly be faced with the problem of how to integrate both info-constellations while at the same time keeping them ‘relatively’ distinguishble, in order to prevent info overload. Or am I beeing too naive in regard to the potential of MOCs?

I’ve been fairly skeptical about the usefulness of MOCs in achieving this sort of outcome too, with a more tech strategy & geopolitics focus.

That said, I’ve (so far) seen some reasonable success in using quasi-MOCs (non-rigid ones) that denote a [[Cultural trend or ongoing shift]]. These have been fairly easy to integrate with ideas like you mention for “The State”, “The Market” — but have taken some rethinking of my systems here. Before linking what would be, say, [[France]] in a given paragraph, I take a moment to think about the context in which I would actually use that backlink. Often, I realize that there’s little benefit to linking directly to [[France]], and maybe could link to a level deeper, or create a new page, say [[France is gradually shifting towards…]].

More often than not, thinking about the specific context in which I’d need (or want) a backlink connecting a specific entry with a specific topic or trend (be it historical or ongoing) massively helps in avoiding link clutter and surface only useful connections.

It feels important to clarify what we mean by the term “MOC” here. Some mean LYT-style broad high-level MOCs while others mean something much more focused, similar to a smaller topic-focused outline. The term is used to represent a broad range of structures and is a very generic concept so it should be qualified when we make statements about their applicability to a particular problem. (I myself have multiple “tiers” of “MOCs” in my own notes, with different levels of complexity, some of which may be more appropriate to particular problems than others)

Regarding titles: It seems you are bumping into the problem of overly-generic note titles (also applicable to tag names) in that they don’t provide enough context to explain the connection being established.

The solution you are finding (as I have found also) is well-described by Andy Matuschak:

TLDR: As you are discovering, phrase-based titles are more powerful because they focus the note more tightly and enable each note to act as a standalone claim (with supporting material in the note itself) that can be linked from various outlines in various orders to establish various arguments and theories.

This doesn’t mean every note must have such a title, just that when it is possible to do so there is more expressive power generated as a result.

1 Like