What is your Personal Knowledge Management problem?

New innovations such as the “Table of Contents” and “Index” in books emerge because writers and collectors of information run into knowledge management problems which they are trying to solve.

What is your current knowledge management problem? Whether it be a well established function you’d like a program to help with such as finding a note (need to find notes leads to search feature) or coming to an insight?

Or brand new problems that you don’t feel a knowledge management system has addressed?

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My main problem is to connect ideas and keep some sort of breadcrumb trail to the multitude of sources. Old fashioned reading is part of the problem, but not the only one. Now we have podcasts, videos, and a plethora of online articles available. Remembering the important information bits, where they came from, and how they connect with other information bits is the biggest challenge from my perspective.

This is what captured my attention when I first heard about Roam Research. And that excitement led me to Obsidian.

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I think my main problem is that I forget about documents, so I just find them months later and go “oh, right, I wrote this!”. The “random note” plugin is pretty nice to avoid this, but it’s still hard to remember everything I’ve created.
Same as @Sellaro, it’s what attracted me to Roam Research / Zettelkasten in the first place.

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I sometimes get in doubt between evergreen notes and longer articles. Depends on my entushiasm and reading energy that day.

I made some phases in my study routine which has helped me:

  1. Setup main goals/strategies for the week and month (ex: this week I’m studying all my focus on garden writing methodology and curating)
  2. Split tagged and saved articles (Feedly, Instapaper and Readwise) between snippets, news, academic and other groups;
  3. Shorter articles generate more evergreen notes (e:), articles are converted into concepts (ccn:).
  4. Review all that has been written (remember, it has to be atomic/sintetic, except for longer arguments) into a specific day.
  5. Make a study reflection weekly on what’s been done/advanced (ex: this week I generated 15 evergreen notes, linked 4 and created 2 articles). Positive reinforcement rules.

I group with a macro all my notes into a [[weekly - atomic ideas]] page divided by tags (ex: #StudyGod, #ProductMethodology), then review it every weekend for further connections and more writings.

I think this has helped me group up my knowledge base and feel it is actually growing without feeling stuck to the day itself (I specifically hate the 2020-05-04 tags at each note… they feel smaller. thankfully obsidian does the automatic connections and corrections!)

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I echo this.

Trello has an “Card aging” power-up which is kind of interesting: https://trello.com/power-ups/55a5d917446f517774210012/card-aging

Basically you can see at a glance, which cards haven’t been updated in a long time. Maybe Obsidian can have something like this too – reminding you to look at your notes from time to time :slight_smile:.

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This sounds like a great idea for a plugin, and you should post it in the plugins category :wink:

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For me, the main problem is how to establish a new workflow for Obsidian.

I took some glance at someone’s roamresearch knowledge system. But some of them still use tree structure to organize their note. And some who use net structure don’t take care their node name, they use noun in every topic, so it’s jusk like a personal wikipedia.

Though I find so many not-that-good ways organizing their system, I still not generate my own from these experiences…

Eager to see more graph-view from others, it does help.

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My problem is keep switching between outline (like Dynalist / Xmind) and long article softwares.
Sometimes I need quick notes to keep my thought, I perfered some visualization tools like Xmind; on the other hand, I need to deep thinking, to write some long articles, I usually need paste code or images, so Markdown support is necessary.
Obsidian solves the second problem nicely, but it’s not very good at outlining, it even don’t have a TOC, and it’s editting experience is not very commonfortable.
I currently use Obsidian to generate new zettel and internal links/tags, then I use VSCode( + Markdown All in one) for writing.

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Done! Thanks for the suggestion.

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Mine is probably more specific than most,

I need a sophisticated way to create mathematics notes but non-linearly.

The very basic problem is that mathematics is very definitions driven and sometimes it’s easy to forget what the definition of something is. So backlinking/transcluding/ability to open panes is very help.

The second issue is that there are multiple ways to view the same mathematical object: e.g. the definition of a continuous function in high school math to college. But the college view has multiple ways to look at it, a sequence definition, a topological definition, a geometric definition.

All of these definitions are very precise (where back-linking to definitions helps). But directly having it in the text can get cumbersome. Sometimes I don’t need to see all those different definitions.

Finally, the other main issue is unifying mathematics. For example calculus and linear algebra at the undergraduate level are separate topics but higher level mathematics can unify these with differential forms. Somehow I need to be able to connect these topics together and understand how they interact.

At a very high level, Terrence Tao (very famous mathematician) says he’s able to evaluate whether he thinks a theorem is true or not just based on the implications it would have on the rest of mathematics.

He describes it as a “strain” on his mental web of mathematics. It would be very cool to approach that level, or somehow manage to get his mental web out of his head and onto “paper”.

This relates to a topic I’ve been thinking about for awhile which is “implicit/institutional” knowledge and how to get it out of key people onto paper.

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There is this concept/practice known as dialogue mapping you might be interested in. It is a visual, software-assisted method of non-linear group facilitation.

Oh cool, I’ll check it out.

The last time I’ve looked into the area more officially there was a book called Critical Knowledge Transfer but I haven’t worked in a corporate setting in awhile.

My PKM problem is finding a solution like Obsidian that enables embedding lots of screenshots into notes. For my work use cases (as a technical program manager), I’m constantly taking notes while capturing screenshots (from a video meeting or slide deck) and pasting it inline with my notes.

Notion functions the best for this: I can easily paste screenshots inline and resize them - but the problem is it’s cloud-based and I can’t put work content there.

Obsidian works but it’s messy:

  1. I can’t actually view the image unless in preview mode
  2. All the attachments are pasted into a single global attachments folder
  3. All pasted screenshots are named Pasted image1.png, Pasted image2.png, etc.
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My main problem is that I’m too lazy to make inter-document links in a vault and rather let a system do the linking for me each time documents change – something VoodooPad is doing.

I was lured into the prospect of combining project and knowledge management. It would be ideal not to be switching between systems and there is occasionally a connection.

I’ve explored migrating Dynalist to Roam, but found it difficult to work in. While it is great for discovery and note-taking, a hierarchical system like Dynalist is easier for me to navigate (this may be legacy muscle memory). Also, the wonderful suite of tools built by the enthusiastic community of Dynalist hasn’t been matched yet (though this seems to be waning with the current Roam-ance). I expect there will be similar issues with Obsidian. Has anyone successful migrated from Dynalist to Obsidian?

This plugin idea might interest you: Freelinking

Yes, if nobody else does it I will implement the freelinking plugin.

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@Silver, you’ve just given me a #feature-requests idea: node size, in graph view, is a function of edge count, but what if it could be toggled to another metric - last modified?

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@sdc your mathematics note problem is intriguing - I would be interested to know what scheme you have tried, in Obsidian. Absent that, I have a few ideas:

  1. You could have nodes of: [[high school]], [[undergraduate]] and [[graduate]]
  2. Each of these could link to: e.g. hs = ‘high school’, [[hs calculus]], [[hs linear algebra]], [[hs continuous fcn]]
  3. You could have nodes of: [[Calculus]], [[Linear Algebra]], [[Continuous Function]]
  4. Each of these could link to: e.g. [[hs calculus]], [[ug calculus]], [[g calculus]]
    • or [[hs continuous fcn]], [[ug continuous fcn]]
  5. Then something like [[ug continuous fcn]] could in turn link to [[sequence cf]], [[topological cf]], [[geometric cf]]

As for unifying topics in graduate math, it’s just a question of which node would do the unifying, have the unifying statements in there and then [[links]] to the topics being unified

@sdc Additional problems I have with transferring my lecture notes to Zettelkasten is that there’s usually a lot of unnamed lemmas or propositions that are used in proofs of more interesting theorems. Those propositions should have their own page, especially if they are used in more than one proof, but I haven’t yet figured how to name those pages to be able to link to them.

Every way I thought of has some downside to it. Do you have any idea how to solve this?

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