🧠 Unbundling Tools for Thought →January 11, 2023 • #
Fernando Borretti gets real on the likely-useless time sink that is the perfectionist “tools-for-thought” space:
People have this aspirational idea of building a vast, oppressively colossal, deeply interlinked knowledge graph to the point that it almost mirrors every discrete concept and memory in their brain. And I get the appeal of maximalism. But they’re counting on the wrong side of the ledger. Every node in your knowledge graph is a debt. Every link doubly so. The more you have, the more in the red you are. Every node that has utility—an interesting excerpt from a book, a pithy quote, a poem, a fiction fragment, a few sentences that are the seed of a future essay, a list of links that are the launching-off point of a project—is drowned in an ocean of banality. Most of our thoughts appear and pass away instantly, for good reason.
As an aspiring tools-for-thought user, who keeps his own notes in a “PKM”, this piece rings true (and painful). The reality of personal wikis, totalizing note-taking apps, and people with their fully hyperlinked massive graphs of notes is that most of this is for naught. It largely ends up being nothing more than a playground for creating big structures of information that don’t solve a problem.
I’ve spent tons of time fiddling with notes in Roam, Obsidian, Logseq, and every productivity tool under the sun, even while being very aware of the fact that tools don’t make you productive on their own. Yet still, most of what this post describes is the honest reality: we can excuse our way to spending huge amounts of time trying to build a castle of an immaculate hyperlinked memex, but really Apple Notes, a calendar app, and a checklist tracker will solve the problem just fine.
- Roam Tools — Tools for improving Roam Research.