Choosing a new notetaking app

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Winkletter  •  21 Jun 2022   •  

I’m changing my note-taking app today. I do most of my writing in Gingko Writer, and most of my notes go in Notion but I’m getting a bit frustrated with Notion.

I love linked databases, but I’m finding it difficult to add notes. I have to decide where each piece of information should exist before I add anything. Often I end up dumping random notes on my main dashboard, creating clutter. And then once the data is in Notion, where is it exactly? It’s in a database on a server.

And honestly, I’m getting tired of organizing my notes.

Obsidian

Now that I have a Windows PC, I’ve decided to reassess Obsidian. I tried it once before but was a bit overwhelmed. This time around I watched a couple tutorials and switched out of dark mode. I’m feeling a little more comfortable. I’m writing my Lifelog entry in the app itself and by adding the tag #Lifelog so this will show up as a page connected to that tag.

And I’ve switched on a daily note plugin that will create a daily note when I open the app each day. No more random notes getting mixed in with other notes.

I looked at a few apps before deciding to try Obsidian, and although I liked various features of other apps, what sold me on Obsidian was the fact that it keeps all of my notes on my PC as plain text Markdown files. I think that will be the one feature I absolutely require going forward. No more walled gardens. No more exports.

No more opening a website where my notes are kept and finding out the developer decided to kill their project without giving users a chance to export their notes. True story.

I actually have some documents saved to my old Evernote account that are plain text Markdown files I created with an old wiki program that are probably fifteen years old, and if I wanted to I could probably drop them in my Obsidian vault and have it work. It’s proof that plain text Markdown files have durability.


Here are some of the other options I looked at this week. These are more recent notetaking apps, since I’ve already used or passed on most other well-known apps.

Remnote

Remnote includes the ability to turn notes into flashcards. This was a tempting feature. I would love that functionality, but, the way Obsidian is built someone could probably create a plugin for this eventually.

I’m looking forward to the day when NLP and AI can read a document and create flashcards automagically. Actually, a program could probably create a gradient of question types from TRUE/FALSE questions, multiple choice, and fill-in-the-blank questions in three simple steps.

  • Step 1: Extract propositions from the text.
  • Step 2: Identify key words in those propositions.
  • Step 3: Suggest a bank of alternative words that would make the statements true or false.

Let me tag that one, another #app_idea I don’t have time to build.

Amplenote

Amplenote looks like it has some advanced features for creating tasks and scheduling inside the note taking app. After adding tasks to a note, the user can set them to repeat, create a due date, set a reminder, even hide the task until a date, set a priority level, and estimate its duration. Based on these properties it assigns a task score that orders the task on the overall task list.

I may eventually use this to maintain a task list. Then again, Notion did just buy Cron, so I’ll have to see what happens there.

Mem.ai

Mem is a note taking app that uses AI to organize notes. As the user adds notes it starts to generate tags automatically, and shows related notes. I’m sure they will be doing more AI-related coolness as they develop the app more.

Athens Research

Athens Research kind of shows its hand by including “Research” in it’s name. It’s trying to be a free clone of Roam Research. Price was the main reason I passed on Roam earlier when I was looking for something like Obsidian. Both Athens and Roam are focused around the knowledge graph, which Obsidian also has.

Comments

“Now that I have a Windows PC” - ahh such a disappointing admission 🤣

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therealbrandonwilson  •  21 Jun 2022, 11:06 pm

@therealbrandonwilson sigh How true. I’ll put on my “USED TO BE A MAC USER” sandwich board so people can hurl turnips at me as I walk through the streets.

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Winkletter  •  22 Jun 2022, 9:11 pm