Maps of Connections, Maps of Content

I’ve been fascinated with Obsidian, and more and more, the graph view. It seems ornamental at first, but gains traction as it becomes a self reflexive view of the development and structure of graph connections.

The fundamental change introduced by the graph view to the markdown wiki is the possibility of using basically content free topological/topographical models as note “hangers”. All graph nodes are not necessarily notes.

The “sea” of notes becomes a linked hammock, a bumpy web. Think of an MOC as a mountain. Or maybe a butte, or better, a tower. A sequential comment stream (or a log stream) as a one dimensional line, or a banner, of individual comments streaming from one link on the tower. Or an Ouroboros burl, self reflexively wrapping one link. Just different views.

Network topologies can easily be simulated/structured. As can ecological flows. Or workflows. Like folders and linked files, topological (connectional) structures can add to taxonomic (contentual) structures, and be fluid and ephemeral, as well.

The quickest example is the LYT Home MOC: its topographical structure is a tower surrounded by subsidiary towers. The size of the node indicates density of connections; it could also indicate height. Subsidiary towers can come and go. (Doesn’t translate well into the gardening or forestry terms usually used; that’s why I like “webbery” and towers.) MOCs are maps of connections, as well as maps of content. Of course, there can be other connection structures in addition to MOCs, like daynotes or log streams.

While this all may seem blue sky, it has immediate practical uses and implications:

  • Meeting MOCs and templates might be the biggest single initial use case when Obsidian goes mainstream.
  • It allows easy visual workflow modeling.
  • The development of memory palaces and mind journeys: the explicitly topographical method of loci can be set up, downloaded, learned, and used.
  • It could help with testing large note stores and structures (when do things slow down, etc.).

Developing new analytical/epistemological strategies, new structures for connecting and surfacing notes, is probably the most significant use for topological structures. But structuring workflows will be significant.

Robert RA99

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