Sources of information which are feeding our knowledge bases

Hi guys

I’ve been thinking recently about the sources from which information gets into my knowledge base. I discerned 4 major sources.

  • Books. The primary source of info. I am an avid reader and prefer reading to anything else. Less frequently I turn my attention to articles, but I consider them similar to the books due to the structure and density from which I must decompose info and construct personal understanding.
  • Next best things are club meetings. I have two meeting frameworks. First related to specific discussion topic with invited guest, that later is turned into podcast. And the second are notes from book club, where we talk around the topic of a recent book.
  • The third type of info that finds its way into my knowledge base is original ideas from chats and forums where I take active position in discussions.
  • And the most infrequent are the ideas from various social networks. Because I try to stay away from them as long as it could be helped.

So the question is for members of this community and fellow knowledge creators, what are your sources of information? Why?


Great question! To add on rather than repeating yours:

  • I attend a lot of academic talks, where I have a well-established habit of taking handwritten notes in a notebook and am trying to figure out a workflow for getting those out of the notebook and into Obsidian later.
  • Additionally, I sometimes have “lab notes” of things I’ve learned based on a specific challenge I was trying to solve, combined with then insights from and informal references to documentation/tutorials/forum posts/potentially even GitHub issues I encountered while trying to solve the problem. Many of the forum questions here on “dataview” or JavaScript that I have answered recently have ended up linked in such “lab notes”, potentially with the code I used to experiment included just below.

Interested to see what other sources people mention.


I also tried to solve similar problem not so long ago. When attending conferences usually I take brief notes that consist of who, where, what, why and if why resonates with something that I am working currently then I find speakers work or just contact him via email and ask him to elaborate on what or why.

So in an essence my Obsidian vault has card of a speaker, inside it has contacts, and main works, and after each his speech I add points where, what and why. And transfer very briefly notes from the notebook.

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My knowledge base is not built around any topic in particular and I don’t expect to get any specific output from it. It’s more of a thinking space, a playground for finding unexpected connections and a place to chew on information thoroughly to ensure better digestion.

So besides the obvious sources like books, longer articles, discussion threads, stand alone videos and full online courses, there are a lot of entries that come directly from my head. They are mostly made of knowledge I have previously accumulated, personal experiences or random thoughts that, I feel, deserve further development. My interests span pretty wide and my system has yet to fully mature, so I constantly find myself trying to connect new information to the one that’s a part of my knowledge but not yet a part of my knowledge base.

I also do a lot of hopping around the web picking new topics to investigate on the way. These trips usually start as research for something very practical and end up in the space corner of wikipedia with a probability of 99%.

There are ~80K unread messages between ZK and Obsidian groups in Telegram. It’s honestly depressing.


It should not depress you. There is no way possible to process all the digital and analog files
that are available. There is no such thing as a zero inbox, and no one will ever be able to read the entire internet. All you can do is go down rabbit holes that interest you and continue to learn, with the process staying out of the way. Make notes on the real interesting stuff and you will be doing well.


Mine are similar.

  • books
  • internet posts/articles
  • social media (which, for me, is primarily the output of discussions and, less commonly, quotes and ideas I snipped from something someone else shared)

Occasionally, movies might make an appearance – e.g. I have a couple notes that came from thoughts on Yesterday and The Last Full Measure – but that’s rare enough I can probably literally count my “movie notes” on one hand.

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Good question.

Initially, the sources were book highlights (both kindle and marginalia from actual books), web articles, my own writing & drafting notes, and specific social media content posts where I spent more thought with the content and resulting feedback was valuable.

Increasingly, new content emanates from within the vault itself. The more I’ve linked ideas, thoughts, & topics more thought fodder gets created and I get to expound on previous thoughts and this leads to new notes linking previously unrelated notes.

I also have observed that initial work was creating links to notes. As I expound upon previous thoughts and articles the links are getting more detailed and towards headings and blocks refs.

Obsidian is perpetual motion software that keeps on giving:)


Curious, what has resonated so hard that it found its way into the knowledge base?

Just today had a talk with a productivity writer and Zettelkasten evangelist, we touched the topic how he has been working with his vault on processing level and we identified three steps: capturing (his primary source are also books), then goes linking and the last creating. Linking is heavily dependent on the quality of sources if not for the books, there wouldn’t be anything to connect.

I’ve posted similar topic on several forums, results point that books are winning. They far ahead of everything else.

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could also be Web Sites, podcasts, youtube videos, Discord Posts, Twitter Posts or Obsidian forum posts. (or any social media posts)


I’m new to Obsidian but was just today thinking about this topic. I’m using Research Rabbit to capture articles for Zotero. I also use Google for popular articles/blogs, which also go into Zotero where I highlight & annotate. I’m using Readwise for my Kindle books, which picks up my highlights & annotations. Zotero & Readwise get exported into Obsidian (haven’t yet learned how to get this part right). My own thoughts go straight into Obsidian. Don’t have a method yet for podcasts, social media & audiobooks. I’m doing lifestyle coaching, so my client notes (anonymously) get copy-pasted into Obsidian. Everything is in one Obsidian file called Zettelkasten.

Can you elaborate a little? Imagine that you have absolutely virgin note-talking app. Nothing has been put in there yet, but you are determined to do it. What source will be the first you go to? Book, article, blogpost, farnam street, Maria Popova’s Marginalian, something else?

And what app in your digital environment has the most number of notes, ideas, highlights? Kindle, zotero, goodnotes (or similar to)?

Great question, and I was just thinking about this same thing this morning – clarifying what exactly goes into, and does not go into, a notetaking app – since I’m new to Obsidian (though not to note taking apps) and I’m trying to clarify what this tool is for. For me, those sources are…

  • Books (including audiobooks)
  • Web articles, videos, and podcasts (in that order)
  • Academic research articles (trying to keep track of the connections among different articles is how I got into all this)
  • Meetings, and other forms of interaction with other people
  • Passing thoughts, and ideas that come into my head that I want to work with or hold on to. (I.e. sometimes the information comes internally, probably when ideas from the other sources have lived together in my head long enough)
  • Other notes - Sometimes the relationship between two previously-taken notes causes information to emerge that would not be there otherwise. Being able to literally see that relationship is one of the great draws of Obsidian versus other great apps like Evernote, etc. that don’t have something like the graph view.

Oh contrare! There are always new links that can be made in existing vault knowledge. @RobertTalbert alludes to this in his post below about links emerging between previously-taken notes. Fiction, world building & mapping, and the use of synesthesia for example, all involve this sort of linking; sorta the definition of creativity. From my vantive, when you have a robust stash of knowledge and put an investment of thought into a vault, I would flop the order of priority to: Creativity, Linking, and lastly Capture.

This one is a new medium for me. Recently I’ve come across David Rockfeller’s framework for organizing cards related to people he met and communicated with.

Got encouraged by his example and began digging into it, found an article how he had built a catalogue for his outstanding collection of personalities he had been interacting during his life. BTW it was truly impressive assortment of friends and various savvy individuals. I would like to browse through it one day.

So I’ve found another entry point to my base, contact cards. It looks like this:

Alias:: where or through whom got acquainted
Topic:: Shared interest
Contacts:: how to find, usually email.
Year:: year of the first contact
## Person's name
- We’ve talked about sleep, conformism, daily routines.
	- Armen and Daria.
	- Time Ferris and Neal Gaiman.
		- Ocean at the end of the lane.
	- Gustavo Santaolalla. Longing

- Talked about fountain pens, and the feelings writing with it provides.
- Music, the second point of discussion and how good equipment immerses you into the fabric of music. 
	- [Johnny Cash](Кэш,_Джонни) I need to refresh his music, relisten couple of albums.
- The last topic has been games and influence they have on us. Haven’t talked about culture and favourite games. Maybe a topic of our next discussion.
	- It takes two – a game. 
	- Great collaborative game, his daughters enjoy playing.

We also talked about [[Emotional side of handwriting]]

Yes, I find that this trend is also emerging in my work with the vault, this got me thinking about efforts we put into the vault. Last year I talked with Sonke Ahrens and we touched the topic of the return of investments we put into knowledge base, eventually the discussion about time had arisen. How much do we spend working with vault? He said that it is almost impossible to count for him. He keeps his base in Roam research and takes into account not only the time he spends in front of the screen, but also time spent ruminating, discussing, thinking, etc.
So this another interesting topic, how much time we spend fretting over our bases, organizing and reorganizing, linking, capturing, creating?

In my case, it is time-block between 5 and 7 am, maybe some more time during the day, and around 2 hours of reading daily. What about members of this nice community?


I know there’s a way to reply with a quote, but I forgot what it is.

My note on Yesterday says:
“Such a profound philosophical/theological illustration. It is a difficult thing to give proper glory to the Creator for the beauty of His creation, when the Creator Himself has been forgotten.”

And on The Last Full Measure:
The Last Full Measure is about a youngish man (government official) who’s approached by Vietnam War vets attempting to get their fallen friend’s Medal of Honor awarded that he earned 32 years ago. As is so often the case, I saw connections between that and other things I’m reading and learning in my life. A key bit of the movie was that these vets’ stories needed to be heard. It also struck me that their stories were connected. And the story of the movie was even connected to the lessons I was learning in a course I was taking at the time. (That much of my story relies on the stories of those who came before me, and overlaps the stories of others in my life was something I’d already jotted down in my notes as I worked through the course.) Everything is interconnected.”

This is a very intellectually mature approach, which is free from the common metaphor to use software like Obsidian as “second brains” with everything atomized and connected together. That’s not how brains work; and software is no substitute for thinking. I like your advice.