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Obsidian

September 13, 2021

A few months ago, I switched to Obsidian from OneNote for digital note-taking and I will probably never go back. I haven't realized how unintuitive OneNote is in many ways until after switching.

Here's the problem. OneNote works like physical storage of notes works. It is all based on a note having a single place in a folder structure. A note exists in one place. Although OneNote supports tagging, the UX is centered around folders. This causes problems when a note is related to two separate topics, and seeing a note when you search for both of those topics doesn't really work. Additionally, it requires much more thinking and sorting in the process of storing everything where you want it. I believe that this is for historical reasons, since in the physical world a physical note is stored in one physical folder or drawer, and order is required to maintain structure and find what you need. When people started storing information on computers instead, this is what people (thought they) wanted since it's what they were used to. But it's most likely not the ideal way when everything is digital since digital notes enable other and probably better ways to do it.

Obsidian works through connections. A note can be connected to a plethora of different topics, which are connected as nodes in a network. Topics are connected and the structure emerges organically. You can use folders if you want to, but you don't have to. I don't. Instead, I just tag everything and let the structure emerge.

It's completely free and open-source. It has a buzzing community of coders developing plugins, of which there are already hundreds.

I encourage everyone to give it a try. You can download it here: https://obsidian.md/