Q: How should I use graph view 'correctly' because I'm not getting any ideas

I’ve got years of daily journals in Emacs org-mode. I filtered out some ideas, put it in an ACE system, and got a graph like this. Now it looks cool, but I’m not getting any ideas from looking at this. Am I doing something wrong? How should I be thinking about links and ideas to find graph useful?

Case in point: I found Gall’s Law “Structure Must Be Earned” very profound and familiar.

But I can’t imagine where to connect it to here. It’s not a 1st tier fundamental truth, it probably comes out of something. Which means there are 2nd tier fundamental truths…

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Graphs have several levels of usefulness. The very basic levels are well supported by Obsidian’s Graph:

  1. Discover orphans. What notes aren’t linked at all? They might need some attention.
  2. Discover isolated clusters. Why aren’t they linked to other notes? Is there a good reason?

The most useful level is not supported by Obsidian’s Graph:

  1. Show only certain kinds of links. This would encourage building ontologies.

Linking is about making knowledge explicit. A bold statement like “If you just want things to work, the fun is gone” needs some context and explanation. f this statement is a quote, I’d link to the source of the quote. If it’s my original thought, I would mention what prompted it. If it’s a research question, I would link it to at least one general area like “work ethics”, “motivation”, “pragmatism” etc.

Obsidian makes this kind of linking really easy with [[wiki-links]] and core plugins like Backlinks and Outgoing links.

But in order to see connections in the graph, you have to first create links in the notes.

And don’t underestimate #tags. I think of them as “linking for the not so diligent”.

If links and tags are too much work, then at least group your notes in some folder. A folder is form of implicit linking. Moving isolated notes to an “Inbox” makes one important connection visible: you didn’t really think about them yet.

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I am firmly of the belief that no technology will fully replace the need to know many facts about a topic/field and spend hours pondering about a problem. Global graph view is useful for getting a sense of the “shape” of the entire vault and local graph view is useful for finding 2-hop links, and that’s about it.

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