What is your Personal Knowledge Management problem?

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.


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.

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.

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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?


@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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  • I’ve been using OneNote for a really long time now. but they’ve stopped developing the software, the app ecosystem sucks bigtime. Transferring to Notion and Evernote cant be done without distorting my organisation.

  • Obsidian as cool and straightforward as it is doesn’t offer a solution for viewing or editing my notes in the android device.

  • Notion doesn’t allow offline support which makes me really scared. What if they hut down and everything is lost?

  • Obsidian doesn’t have WYSIWYM which is a bummer.

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I have rather big collection of quotes from different books. There are three pieces of information: Author name, Book title and Quotes. Right now the collection is stored in Apple Notes in linear form like this:

Note title: Author name. "Book title"

Note body: Quotes (Unordered list)

Looking for suggestions: how would you restructure this in networked way? Or current linear representation is good enough?



yeah I’ve run into the issue, I usually give it a long name. From just the way I learn, I try to find in each lemma the “crux” or key idea or step i.e. if I could only remember one thing about the lemma, what is it?

I then just give it that name.

I’m not really sure how zettelkasten works though?

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I’ve mainly just been splitting “special case” so single-variable calculus is a special case of multi-variable etc. The gradient vector is also a covariant tensor etc.

My main process has been writing in traditional note form, then going back and processing it into smaller notes.

That’s what I’m doing right now, and I have to admit I didn’t run into issues yet. But I’m sure there’ll be some lemma that I won’t be able to summarise in one sentence.

As for Zettelkasten, I’d recommend you to check out this blogpost or this video (preferable). Well worth your time, I assure you.


Evernote has a web plugin for Chrome that will show search results from your notes alongside the online results every time you use a search engine. This has helped me (sometimes) avoid this problem. I am constantly surprised to see that I have searched and taken notes on something already, sometimes years ago!

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iOS. I’m with my iOS devices much more than I’m with my laptop. I’m also always with my iPhone when I have time to kill … time that would be perfect for working with my Zettelkasten. 1Writer is fine, but it’s a different environment with different rules. I’d like to have a system with feature parity across devices. I don’t like having to think about making things work more than I have to.


what do you mean by tree structure vs. graph view?

  1. All pasted screenshots are named Pasted image1.png, Pasted image2.png, etc.

As far as this goes, I’ve been happy with ctrl-clicking the image link and renaming the file each time I paste one, but that could get annoying if you need to do it 20+ times…

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