On the process of making MOCs

Ah well. Maybe the TOC posts could be shifted to their own thread :wink:

I wasn’t looking for a discussion, not having a horse in the race, but this was a simple reference to some schools of thought in many religious traditions.

Eg Paul “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” And the tradition that the pursuit of knowledge is no different to the pursuit of food etc and blocks the path to wisdom.

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So, how is she supposed to determine a way to live that is both best for herself and simultaneously best for the common good?

You “let yourself off the hook” but expect her to come up with the goods. She just provides food for thought, as imperfect as it may be, and its up to the reader to take it further, dig deeper, or leave it at that.

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What she is doing is wonderful, and I very much attribute Brain Pickings (or at least the ideas I found there and dug into) to a large part of my positive life changes. Yet, if I had instead latched onto the bad/contradictory/incompatible l ideas that she champions as timeless, prescient, soul-lifting, wise, etc… perhaps I’d be in a much darker place. Again, if she calls two directly contradictory things wonderful, only one (or neither) of them could actually be so.

If she’d just do something like evergreen notes - updating her thinking, finding coherence, discarding old ideas, that would be perfectly fine.

Where have I let myself off the hook for anything? I hold myself to a tremendously high (unattainable) standard. I just forgive myself when I fail to meet it, change course and keep trying to get better.

While it may seem like I’m shitting on her, its very much the opposite - I think high enough of her and her capabilities that she could seek to find more coherence (and even just accuracy). To completely defend what she’s done is to actually denigrate her by saying that she’s not capable of coherence. It would only take a slight shift in perspective to set things right.

If this represented her blog, she’s currently in the middle (knowledge) with just a bunch of interconnected thoughts. I’m advocating for her (and everyone) to try to find the gold path between the most important things, maybe even specifically saying that the other things are not compatible and explaining why.

To look at it from a different perspective, many of the people she lauds would be aghast at being equated with other people she lauds… Would MLK or James Baldwin or other social and moral warriors care to be associated by similar adjectives with completely amoral people? Its a dishonor to them, their lives and their example to do keep things as they are.

Hell, I’ll let Nietzsche - via Brain Pickings! - have the last word on all this:

No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!

This is echoed throughout philosophy. She should take her own advice (via the advice she champions). As should we all


I think we have hijacked this thread enough, esp. with the focus on Maria Popova and her Brain Pickings publication.

From my side I want to thank you for the link to White-Smoke (arrow and bubble diagram) you provided higher up. That and the image right above with the 5 hand-drawn diagrams made me dive deeper into the subject, esp. re Insight and Wisdom. In my mind Wisdom has always been the highest form of knowledge and understanding. I am not so sure now.

Last question: can you provide a link for the hand-drawn diagram?

I’m going to reclaim this thread with a practical question. Has anyone found it useful to create TOCs of MOCs (yes, I had fun writing that)? That is, maintaining a table of content for all of one’s MOCs for quick reference? If so, do you do it by maintaining the list as text in a note, or by using Obsidian’s backlinks? Or do you just search for “MOC” – which is problematic for me since I’ve linked Evergreen/Permanent notes to MOCs and so pop up in the results. Thanks!

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@Deinos one sec, will reply

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@nixsee Thanks, I did open @nickmilo’s starter kit about a month ago (as well as the download On the process of making MOCs.zip (66.4 KB)) and admired the work, as you can see here. The index seems more like an overview, in that – for example – the Breathing MOC doesn’t appear in it, but it does appear on the 020 Body MOC, which in turn does appear on the Index. So that’s one approach, but it isn’t the only approach a person could take. I’m interested in hearing multiple perspectives on it.

Right now we have folding at the heading and list level but those foldings are not remembered when we close and reopen a note. It also doesn’t work in preview mode. If those worked, then we could have a list of lists in the Index itself.

As a workaround, one can transclude the individual MOCs in the index so instead of a link to Mind, Body, etc. They become a window to those lists instead. That might be another approach offering a single view for all lists.


This has gone on long enough. Many posts have been deleted. @nixsee Start your own post with a clear topic. No one should reply to this. Done.

Please continue talking about the “process of making MOCs” and anything directly related to that.


I don’t have TOCs of MOCs, I think I have MOCs of MOCs as I keep changing what goes where and how it’s placed on those higher MOCs. From what I understood of the IMF Starter Kit, for @nickmilo some TOCs may have started as MOCs and once they are finished (when built for projects or similar) they end as TOCs.
But the idea of MOC is still not 100% clear to me so this only as I view it.

Would you use that one TOC to search for a specific MOC?
I’m asking because when I want to search for a specifc MOC I start in the Index and browse to it going from MOC to MOC until I find it. Though my number of notes is still quite small, so that may be why I wouldn’t search for it in the way you said it.

Most of the times I make a MOC, I usually go back to it quite a few times (shortly after I create it) and each time I browse starting from the Index, what usually happens is that if I end up in a MOC where I thought “It should be here” and it wasn’t I add it there, making several paths to the same MOC.

This is all still fresh to me, so like you I would welcome different perspectives.


I’ve been following the nicely written Zettelkasten guide here by @lizardmenfromspace and it gave me a thought that helped clarify to me more the difference between indices, TOCs and MOCs. He mentions,

Adding to this @Meins understanding of MOC vs TOC being the fact that the former is a live document while the latter is finished. So it become more of a status based difference.

My present understanding of the concept of MOC was more like a perspective on existing info, much like perspectives in Omnifocus, which allows to narrow focus down to those notes (or sections of notes) which pertain only to the topic at hand. Another analogy might be creating custom maps in Google maps to plan for a trip. The existing myriad of information in google maps I see narrowed down to only the places pertinent to my trip. In that way, it offers me only actionable info whereas an index would give me all countries/cities.

I’m trying to bring it all together and form a coherent definition. So far, I think an Index is an alphabetically sorted comprehensive list. A TOC is thematically organised list which is finished (as is an index). And an MOC is a live, fluid list somewhere in between those two (leaning more towards themes) which can be used for specific purposes like a writing project or planning something. It exists to allow working with a subset of all KM by reorganising them to suit the purpose at hand but without taking away any existing structures inherent in the system.


“Index” has a few definitions. The broad definition of an index is: Something that serves to guide, point out, or otherwise facilitate reference.

That’s the definition I subscribe to. A more narrow definition makes it an alphabetical list. (This is what we’re used to in a book.)

Narrow definitions feel solid, and solid feels good. But solid is rigid, and rigid is inflexible, so rigid can break with new stressors over time.

The broader definition of an Index allows for resilient fluid thinking that can adapt as needed, which I would argue makes for a more robust digital library of notes.

@Rishi Your Omnifocus “perspectives” analogy is a good one!

There is a lot of wiggle room for personal preferences here. To overly simplify, I’d say there are notes, and then notes about notes. For “notes about notes” MOCs are the most fluid. Eventually, I might have a specific project in mind, so I can duplicate that MOC and create a very specialized and linearly-ordered TOC. This is where @Rishi is onto something about the more final nature of TOCs and Indices.

Above everything, I have an Index note. Basically it’s my highest-level note. You could call it a Directory note. I prefer Index because of its Latin connection meaning “forefinger”. It’s not like an alphabetical index at the end of a book. Instead, it’s a high-level overview from the International Space Station, pointing down upon the rest of my world of notes, with portals to the whichever topics are deemed the biggest or gravitationally most important. I think that’s how @Meins is using it too.


With that ISS example, might I suggest a better name? Launchpad! :smiley:


Oh nice, trying to go a bit further on that:
A Launchpad that can sends us to different Space Stations, so that we can see different sections of our world (which doesn’t mean they can’t share regions).


And suddenly the term broken links could have life/death consequences :grin:


Then you should have Space Stations close to each other so that if one stops working you can quickly change course to one that allows you to see more or less the same section.

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If I recall Hollywood’s version of that scenario, it didn’t work out so well for Sandra Bullock and George Clooney…

This has been helpful… While I have too many notes to comfortably leave MOC-gazing to the file directory, I have a small enough n to try some experiments and see what is working… Thanks!


I realize I could have just replied: Yes I have an MOC of MOCs.

I’ll usually rely on direct links or the Index / Launchpad :wink: note. But I do not underestimate the value of putting together a new dedicated list. It can be soothing; it can lower anxiety. It can reinforce progress. Or it can just be a form of spaced repetition.

My MOC of MOCs has headers like this:

  • Top of Mind MOCs
  • Recent MOCs
  • Ideas MOCs
  • Projects MOCs
  • Favorite Things MOCs
  • Figuring out Life MOCs
  • Mind or Body MOCs
  • Creation and Storytelling MOCs
  • Memory-related MOCs
  • Training MOCs
  • Books MOCs
  • White Dwarf MOCs

One MOC can be under more than one heading of course.

Alternatively, you could make an alphabetical index of MOCs in a separate note. I would manually add the links instead of using backlinks, but that’s just because there’s more control in that.

See what works for you. Please let us know.


This post made me think if I had unorganized notes to turn over to someone else, what would help them understand and find what content existed in the directory?

Create an index with two sections. One section contains a list of concepts or topics, MOCs. The other section consists of current and past projects, TOCs. Via the index, the person should be able to quickly understand what information is present, how the information was used, and how it’s being used. To get even more fine-grained, add a TOC containing a chronological list of daily/todos.

Hopefully, I’m on the right track…


That makes a ton of sense in my process. Thanks for that description!