It was one year ago today in a post I wrote about notes that a reader comment directed me to Obsidian–and I have been using it ever since. For those who don’t know what Obsidian is, it is a plain-text notetaking app based on Markdown files that provides powerful linking between notes to act as a knowledge base for your data. It calls itself “a second brain for you, forever.”
Several things attracted me to Obsidian:
- It is plain text. The note files are just text files on your hard drive that can be read by any text editor. This makes them essentially future-proof. Plain text files have been around since the late 1960s.
- The files are stored locally in a “vault,” which is a fancy word for a top-level folder on your computer. They are not stored in a SaaS (software as a service) which gives you greater control over the data. You can store your vault in a cloud-synced service if you want (iCloud, Dropbox, etc.) but this isn’t required for Obsidian to work.
- You can easily link notes or sections of notes in useful ways to build a network of information and see interesting relationships between that information, which is something I have always wanted.
As a result, I began using Obsidian to automate the capture of my reading notes. Later, I decided that I learned more when I de-automated this process and that has worked very well for me. I also began using daily notes in Obsidian to form an index to everything else in my life.
It occurred to me tht Obsidian might be a tool I could use to replace Evernote as my digital brain. In the fall I began writing a new weekly series, “Practically Paperless with Obsidian” which documented my journey in going “practically” paperless with Obsidian. So far there are 14 episodes with at least 20 planned.
A year later, I am doing just about everything in Obsidian:
- reading notes
- personal notes
- daily notes
- documents that used to be in Evernote
- work notes (in a separate vault)
- journaling — which I have gone back and forth on through the year but eventually settled on keeping my journal in Obsidian at least through 2022
- writing, including writing drafts for the blog
The best part of this is that I’ve wanted the bulk of my notes and documents in plain text form for a long, long time (for the reasons I listed above) and now, after a year, a great many of the doucments I work on are in plain text form, easily searchable and accessible to me.
Obsidian has changed as well over the year, adding improvments along the way. When I began using it, it was on v0.10.2 or 0.10.3. I am writing the draft of this post on v0.13.21 which includes live preview, which has really grown on me. I’ve gone through a number of themes, experimenting with ones I like best along the way, and for now, have settled on Typewriter mostly in dark mode. I use the mobile app version of Obsidian on my iPhone as well.
I really like how Obsidian works for me, and look forward to continue using it and to see what improvements and enhancements come along in 2022.
Written on January 17, 2022.
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