I am not in a position to actually make any of this real. But I can share what potential I see, and hopefully someone more able will turn it into reality.
Right now, the map and the territory are split. Either I look at the actual content of my notes (the territory), or I look at the graph view (the map).
Content view/single note view/territory view:
I can see the information, I can edit it, I can do whatever I want with it. But I can’t see the bigger picture. I can’t zoom out.
I can’t easily see all the notes that what I am looking at is linked to.
Overview/Graph View/Map view:
It’s wonderfully easy to see which note connects to which other note, which has many connections and which has few.
But I can’t see a single piece of actual information from within the notes, I can’t see their content.
In standard Obsidian, the graph view is little more than a gimmick in my eyes.
The Juggl.io plugin, specifically the “compound note” concept is the closest thing I have seen to accomplish a merger.
It’s great to be able to see a preview of the content of the notes as well as the links.
But if I want to edit my notes, I enter a different mode, a different screen.
Using Google Earth, I can look at the whole world in google earth and by zooming in I can see continents, countries, states, cities and individual houses. In principle, were the data available, I could even zoom down onto a table in someones garden and read the newspaper that lies spread out on top of it. And a shopping list displayed on a phone that lies next to it. Any number of written media.
Just like that, I want to be able to see my entire vault, a huge collection of white dots on an infinite canvas, stretched out like the milky way in the night sky, with the countless connections almost resembling zodiac signs, but ALSO be able to zoom in, down to the level of the individual note until I have it spread out in front of me ready to be worked on.
This is the core of what I want to see made real. With it come numerous possibilities, up to the point where all data is a mere node in such a web. Even your browser or E-Mail, even videos, streams or music aren’t in a separate window. At every place in that Nodeweb I choose, I can initiate a search and with it, a new node is born.
That new nodes initially only connection to the rest of that universe of nodes may be the day it was created, the author, perhaps the device it was created on, any kind of metadata that can help differentiate it.
Let’s say I searched for a new album of a band I heard of from my friend Marc. I might initiate that search close to the hub of nodes that represents Marc, the hub itself being a node which, like a mind-map, connects all the nodes that describe or mention him in any capacity.
Upon finding the album, I might listen to and like it. I could now pull that album through the portal of the internet into my universe of nodes and connect it further. I could connect the album or song to other similar songs, albums, playlists or artists or even things like a video project I might be working on that could use a good soundtrack.
I might connect it to a hub of nodes that represents all the images I took from my phone when Marc and I went on a roadtrip through Romania, which the song reminded me of, or pull in an interpretation of the lyrics from a website and link that too.
It’s a tiny example and I am glossing over many important details that need to be addressed. But I hope it can hint at the scope of what I think is possible.
Yes, it’s utopic. But from my perspective, we, as humans, need to find ways to make information free and easy to navigate, find, redistribute, augment, document, archive, all those things.
I think Vannevar Bush said it well:
“We are overwhelmed with information and we don’t have the tools to properly index and filter through it. [The development of these tools, which] will give society access to and command over the inherited knowledge of the ages [should] be the first objective of our scientist.”
- Vannevar Bush, 1945
The vision I see for nodewebs is the best future I can see for information.
There’s so much more to say, but I don’t have the time for it now.
I hope this can inspire someone to work towards a system that enables us humans to really make sense, organize and connect all of the insane amounts of information that we are creating every day. Notes are a start, Obsidian is going in a good direction. But it can’t stop here.
I would be ecstatic to be able to get to use something like what I roughly outlined above in my lifetime and build with it a personal knowledgebase that my offspring and all future generations can refer to for guidance on abstract, philosophical nonsense as well as practical, down to earth, priceless knowledge like how to use a scythe and cultivate land with it, even long after my body has perished.
Thank you for reading.