Synthesizing/Developing Ideas & To Keep or Not to Keep Interim Stages

I’ve been reading How to Take Smart Notes, after seeing it recommended here, and as I read through that, and as I integrate my old/Facebook notes into Obsidian, I’m realizing I actually use a lot of this process already – just not necessarily within a very efficient external system.

I’m reading, I’m taking notes, and then I’m articulating things about what I’ve read and the ideas I’m developing – usually on Facebook. So what I’m finding is that as I work through and develop an idea I might have 3-8 posts on Facebook, at different times and in different places, saying the same basic thing in almost the same words.

Here’s my dilemma: I don’t know whether I should keep all of those separate iterations as distinct notes, if I should keep them all, but as separate sections in the same note, or if I should be “merging” them all into one that attempts to integrate all the non-overlapping bts.

The benefit of the first two options is that they allow me to trace the development of the idea in my own mind over time (kind of like a journal). Given that most of these are being carried over from Facebook, they also allow me to have a record that I already share “that idea in that group.”

The obvious downside is that it can lead to notes-bloat in my vault.

Thoughts on this?

  • Totally hear you … to atomize or not, if in an ideal situation, sure. In mine, not possible:) I struggled with this early on after reading HtTSM’s. If only we had the luxury of unfettered and undistracted time as when Luhmann lived. Spent many hours pouring over this forum and discord only to come away with: quantity of notes in Obsidian isn’t an issue, search simply works (once you get hip to it’s nuance), and for my personal subjectiveness, process does matter in hoarding my previous articulated thoughts.

  • By process, in my world that means all the drafting, editing, revising, and my mental & physical state when doing it. By keeping all that stuff I remember the ahah’s; both negative and positive. This has helped in all my content creation; immensely.

  • MOC’s come into play here and all the ways of doing them. Or not. In my case creating links (be they created yet or not) and Search fulfills my need. I do journal every day (ala morningpages) and spew all manner of stuff into it and link them to established subjects.

  • Every so often I’ll analyze uncreated links and for those that are mentioned alot, I’ll create a Dataview of them in a note with that link name. That way they all bubble into this note magically. Below those results I start the articulation of thoughts and drafting.

  • You mention having multiple FB posts … many seemingly related and not timely. I’ve ended up keeping all drafts in one note with the last one being header linked as Published and PublishedWhere. This allow me to see how it all transpired and where. It appears you use FB as your “scratch pad”, if you will. Hmm… hadn’t thought of doing that, but it has merit; exposing like that makes for focus. Nice. Do you elicit commentary in this?

  • I know you’re new to this space, I’d advise to just keep using the tool, get fluent with the core functionality and adjust the process as you learn. I wonder how many notes and systems we don’t see of Luhmann’s first efforts?

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Thank you; that was really helpful! I’m leaning toward that middle option of keeping all the similar “notes” distinct but all within a single actual note. I agree with you that I don’t find the need to have everything as atomized as in a stack of cards, because the digital platform makes it all easy to find, anyway.

When you ask “Do you elicit commentary in this?” are you asking whether this method garners me feedback on my notes? It does. In fact, a lot of my notes are actually replies from inside of threads, so there’s a lot of processing and refining of ideas as I answer questions, clarify what I might have presented too confusingly the first time, etc.

“I wonder how many notes and systems we don’t see of Luhmann’s first efforts?”

That’s a great question.

Yes, thanks. You’ve probably found many helpful folks in the Obsidian space and they essentially do the same thing; boil down the pkm strategies and software tools into understandable context in almost real time. Every so often I’ll go into the OMG forum on discord and be entertained with developing threads. Many of these folks have identifiable analytical and communication styles with personally distinct and wonderful voices. Cheers to the Obsidian obsessed!