How does Obsidian help you?

I am still not getting the benefit of Obsidian beyond satisfying the ocd need to have everything in order, tagged and interconnected.
I watched the graph animation.
But contrary to mindmaps, which actually help me organize my thoughts and create whole projects from without losing track, this is just eye candy for me.
I would love to benefit from it somehow, I mean all of this knowledge here in my “vault”, I should be able to use it somehow.
But I cannot come up with a single use case that benefits me in a measurable way.
Share how obsidian helped you, I am looking for inspiration beyond the sole technicalities of different backgrounds and bold and italic letters.

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For me, I work in 3D and programming, so I collect a lot of heavily graphic material when I’m training and learning. Obsidian embeds images and media (especially animated gifs) really well. If I embed gifs in Notion or Trello, my computer fan goes wild. But in Obsidian, I have one of my documents with over 30 gifs, and my fan does not react. Locally-stored inline-gifs was the reason I originally moved to Obsidian.

Many other note-taking apps can’t even display gifs. (Some can, of course.)

I also heavily use the Random Notes and Smart Random Notes plugins to shuffle through random notes. It’s very easy for me to lose material into the long-forgotten mist. But if I shuffle my notes randomly, it resurfaces things, often in very serendipitous ways. (It might be my favourite part honestly.)

The local file-system structure means I can edit or change things by scripting Python. It’s so easy to access my media, if I need to make big changes, or replace media. It’s also easy to integrate with other tools, since you can easily append to the .md files. I track versions in .git and backup in multiple ways.

I don’t keep a fancy structure. I try to limit my use of folders and tags. Once I reach a level of complexity, I lose my mental model of the notes. So I keep it simple and light.

If you think very visually, and like that static structure of a mindmap, did you ever investigate the Juggl plugin? (I have not!)

(I also still use Scrivener daily for articles and journalling, because I prefer the fixed structure of the binder, and the ability to view multiple notes via Scrivenings view. As well as the ability to format with things like tab stops.)

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Currently, i use Obsidian mostly as a glorified file manager. It lets me annotate directories and files, I can add data fields to selected entries and I can search the directories and notes very quickly. Also, the assistant which fills in internal links makes connecting notes nearly painless.
I originally decided to try Obsidian because the information resides in files and the MD files can be used after a fashion even if I decide not to use Obsidian any more.

Why do you take notes in the first place?

Why do you annotate directories and files, for what specific purpose?

As a screenwriter I use Obsidian as a combination between a project management tool and a creative writing tool.

Having a neat overview of each film project is invaluable to me, and in addition to that, everything links directly to the content I’ve written: Character descriptions, Synopsis documents, Notes from feedback sessions etc.

Why is a neat overview of each film project invaluable to you?
How do you utilise the fact that everything links to the content you’ve written?

In screenwriting, as in many other disciplines, you can quickly get lost in a specific task without understanding how it fits into the bigger picture.

Interesting. How does the program help you specifically, what is your workflow and why is it superior to other methods or software?

You sit at your table, start obsidian and then what do you do?

Interesting. How does the program help you specifically, what is your workflow and why is it superior to other methods or software?

Having all my notes in one place, only one link away makes it easy to pull in different pieces of knowledge into the projects.

E.g. when creating a character for a film I need to work on two levels:

The micro level: Who is this character? What are their goals, flaws, traits and features?

  • The micro level stuff can be done in any text editor.

The macro level: What is the character’s relationship to other characters in the film? How do their struggles relate to the themes of the movie? How do they affect the plot and the main character? Etc.

  • The macro level is where Obsidian shines. [[Internal links]] are invaluable for creating quick associative jumps between topics.

Take a quick sentence from a character description:
“John Snow is the bastard son of [[Eddard Stark]], is a part of [[House Stark]] and lives in [[Winterfell]]”

  • This sentence contains links to three other notes that give a huge context for who John Snow is and makes it easy for me to see how he fits into the bigger picture of the story.

You sit at your table, start obsidian and then what do you do?

  1. Look at my Daily Note, where I have my tasks of the day.
  2. I click the link in the first task: “Write 2nd draft of [[Filmproject]]”
  3. In the “Filmproject”-note I update the character descriptions and relationships for my 2nd draft, getting new story ideas in the process.
  4. I click into my “Filmproject 2nd draft”-note which contains a task for each scene with a description of which things I want to change in this version.
  5. I open up Final Draft (my screenwriting program) and start writing.
  6. Every time I’m done with a scene, I mark the task as completed in Obsidian and continue with the next scene.

This is just one little example. Probably top of mind because I have a deadline approaching :wink:

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As a product director who oversees multiple teams with shifting initiatives, priorities and stakeholders, I use obsidian primarily as a knowledge base and diary for my daily work.

  • I am primarily driven by the daily note plugin where I record activities, major tasks completed, and other thoughts and ideas.
  • From there, I link to meeting notes (driven by a template), people notes (templated), or notes about projects or other initiatives. This allows me a full date-driven backlink record of my interactions with people or projects.

It requires effort to maintain, but the long-term value is worth it to me.

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There’s nothing wrong with you not seeing a benefit, meaning you don’t have to use it. Maybe look at it from the perspective of asking yourself, “What problem do I need to solve?” and then see if Obsidian can do that for you.

You mention mind maps. I really like the Excalidraw plug-in. It is more of a generic drawing tool and not specifically for mind maps so it doesn’t have the bells and whistles of dedicated mind map applications. However, it’s good enough for me and the neat thing is you can embed links in the mind map which can then take you to notes, or whatever.

Depends on the kind of information in a directory.

For nearly every directory I describe what kind of material belongs here. Once your storage exceeds a few tens of documents, a hierarchical structure with nouns or short phrases will not describe succinctly enough what the stuff is about.

I keep a store of reference material from different sources. One directory might stand for a topic and the notes for the directory outline the provenience and the quality of the material contained therein, as well as stuff still to be provided, work to be done. Individual document might need further documentation, including but not limited to meta data and work to be done.

Directories standing for projects and other units of work profit greatly from notes outlining the goals, work to be done, expected events and whatever I need to remember for a variable amount of time.

Because taking notes (for me) results in:

  • A deeper understanding of documentation and tutorials
  • A quick reference of materials I can review once the skill fades
  • A remixing of all of those sources into my own understanding
  • A breadcrumb trail of my progression as I learn
  • A polishing of those remixes and breadcrumbs becomes content I post, or further pipeline workflows I develop for my work.

Obsidian doesn’t uniquely solve those problems, of course. I’ve been taking notes for decades. But it has one of the most enjoyable workflows for me. Ultimately, I see software like musical genres; all the rationalization barely matters. If it suits you it suits you, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I enjoy the aesthetics of Obsidian.

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  1. How is a deeper understanding of documentation and tutorials beneficial for a specific task?
  2. DO you actually review those materials?
  3. How does remixing benefit you?
  4. How does the breadcrumb benefit you in the future?

We seem to have different goals here. You seem to organize for the sake of an assumed future need.

What exactly are you trying to solve here? What is your goal? Why would you store any information without an assumed future need?

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Eh? Whenever you organize, you do so for an assumed future need.
Why prepare for something you don’t think it might be needed?
You can not possible prepare for something that’s not in the future.
While it’s in the future, you only can presume that there will be a need. You will know whether you needed it or not when the time has passed.

How serious are those questions, indeed? Trying to goad someone?

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It is better to test your system than to continue building to then realize that all work might have been in vain.
That is - btw - exactly what happens to most startups who develop tangentially to market need. What determining market need is to startups is what testing the system for usability for every obsidian user.
I noticed a “I am sure it’ll be of use some time in the future” mentality here often and I don’t like that mentality.
I would rather talk to people who judge their workflow and data collection honestly and are willing to throw it overboard if the assumed use does not come up within a set time frame.
In other words I prefer ruthless goal orientation over a collector’s mindset.

I don’t like that mentality.

[speculation redacted]

The Obsidian community is enormous and diverse, including academics, students, researchers, artists, journalists, professionals, hobbyists, writers, TTRPG players, language learners, and many more. Not everything everyone does here has a clear economic purpose. And sometimes raw knowledge must be mined and collected long before it is ever polished into something worthwhile.

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No, I am not in marketing.
Goal setting and accomplishing is a very rewarding and satisfying activity in every single branch that exists and if you don’t focus on it, your approach will be inefficient or even, which is my point, ineffective.
You will gather for the sake of gathering.
Not my cup of tea.

Why do you take notes and do you take notes for a specific topic?