Is correct to use MOCs as Category pages?

Hi there !
AFAIU a MOC page could ‘emerge’ from spontaneus links to a ‘ghost’ note.
But I found myself generalizing MOCs to be used as ‘Category’ pages, just as a way to group related notes.
I wonder if that’s a correct approach… what do you think guys ?
Could MOCs and Categories be tought as similar or the same ?
If not, how could I handle both of them ?

1 Like

There’s no “correct” way to do anything. The “P” in PKM is “personal”. Whatever works for you is the correct way.

6 Likes

That’s how I use MOCs, too. For every important topic I have an overview page which just links to all the topics “below”. I also call them Overview and not MOC and also tag them as #overview.

Example: “Computer Science Overview”

A topic note might be “Networks”, and it will have up:: [[Computer Science Overview]] in the YAML frontmatter. That way I can go “up and down” in the hierarchy quickly.

My Home Note is more or less an overview of all the overview pages.

Coming from RemNote where all the REMs or notes were ordered like a tree, I just need this hierarchy to keep my orientation. The original Zettelkasten does not have and does not need a hierarchical structure but my brain (still) needs it for the moment.

4 Likes

Wow, thank you @Susanne
The term ‘Overview’ feels much better to read than ‘MOC’ !
I’ll take it :slight_smile:

Regarding organization in a tree or folders, I say that fortunately in Obsidian you can have both worlds (folders and links) not being mutually exclusive, after all you can move notes around and their links will be updated automatically.

Thank you !

3 Likes

This basically how I use it too. My MOCs (I like the term overview too, might switch to that!) are basically a list of relevant links, sometimes with additional commentary.

2 Likes

Sorry, the up:: key is not yaml frontmatter, this was confusing. It’s just the alternative :: syntax from the dataview plugin. The link is clickable.

I love that! Overview, so simple. I was never quite sure what an MOC is anyway, isn’t it just a Table of Contents. I don’t see the need to change a well establi434eshed term, Table of Contents, for a newer term, Map of Contents, if there’s no need, just confusing!

So, Overview, Categories, whichever fits and makes sense. and I like the idea of tagging the page as a ‘header’ page too @Susanne, that makes great sense for organizing.

Great tips thanks!

Edit: what is it with TOC and MOC anyway? Are they the same?

1 Like

Hi @Smithy

MOC is a name that comes from the LinkingYourThinking framework. I am not an expert for the framework but as far as I have understood, a MOC starts as an overview or Table of Contents with just a list of links of subtopics. Step by step, you add your own thoughts to connect these links. If you are a researcher or an author, this could be the start for a paper, blog post, etc.

I think this method has the same drawback as the Zettelkasten method - it was made for authors and scientific researchers. Most people do not get paid for what they write regularly. It’s more complicated.

Let’s take the profession of a software developer as an example. In my daily work, I need knowledge on many levels:

  1. There is knowledge that I need to have absorbed so that I use it automatically when I write code.
  2. There is knowledge that I need to have present all the time because it might be needed spontaneously in a discussion with a client.
  3. There is information that I need just somewhere where I can easily find it.
  4. There are also presentations for customers or colleagues or conference talks where I need to develop my own ideas.

In my opinion, I only need MOCs for the last case. For the other cases, a table of contents is all I need to structure a topic. For knowledge that I need ad hoc, I also need spaced repetition - this doesn’t work so smoothly yet with Obsidian. The next difficulty is to know in advance which knowledge I will need ad-hoc in the future :slight_smile:

Tagging the Overview pages has the advantage that you can have a dataview query for it. I have the following in my homepage:

LIST FROM #overview  
SORT file.name ASC
LIMIT 20
1 Like

I just wanted to add another term that could be used like the suggested ‘Overview’.
That term is ‘Syllabus’, which I found is used to describe the topics that make up a course.

I am using MOC and LIST as two main types of overview-notes.

  • MOCs only contain (internal) wiki-links
  • LISTS contain (1) a small inline-MOC (e.g. with links to similar LISTS) at the start and then (2) they can also contain links to external ressources as well as short explanatory texts.

Somehow this separation helps me a lot in my workflow.

Furthermore, all MOCs are inked to an INDEX MOC (either directly or via other MOCs). Importantly, quite often there co-exist multiple pathways from the INDEX to a specific MOC. Shortcuts and even circular pathways are fine as well.

So, yes, there is a certain degree of hierarchy, but not quite… This is why I would argue that MOCs (maps) are not the same as TOCs (tables) as we know them from most books and papers, where they appear only once in one specific manner.

And to answer the original question about emergence: Well, if you use MOCs as category pages, this should not prevent you from adding more MOCs at some point later in your note taking. And a way in which this can happen is to search for similar ghost notes (or also existing ones) and grouping them in a new way. So new categories indeed can emerge from your notes. But of course, the way there feels a lot like sorting and categorising, rather than observing the spontaneous emergence happening all by itself ;.) Nonetheless, I think this is what people call emergence in this context: you will notice it, as soon as you feel the urge for re-cathegorising your MOCs. This may take half a year or so.