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Tools Must Vanish

Unbundling Tools for Thought

  • And I look up blog and forum posts where Obsidian and Roam power users explain their setup. And most of what I see is junk. It's never the Zettelkasten of the next Vannevar Bush; it's always a setup with tens of plugins, a daily note three pages long that is subdivided into fifty subpages recording all the inane minutiae of life. This is a recipe for burnout
  • 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 is doubly so. The more you have, the redder you are. Every node that has utility—an exciting 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
  • Centralization of Data: everything is in one central place, rather than spread out across your filesystem, Dropbox, and database rows in six different proprietary apps
  • Hyperlinking: you can link your data pervasively:
  • The main drawback is that the user experience for this plugin-based app universe will always be inferior to the user experience for domain-specific apps. An app rarely does plugins. It always feels janky.