633: Workflows with Nick Milo


Great interview. Has anyone used both ClipGrab and PullTube (from SetApp) and can contrast?

Wow, so, Obsidian is free???
How did I not know this?

I’m genuinely excited to get home this evening, download it, and give it a spin.
I’ve been off and on trying to do something like this for years (I thought Craft was it, but then realised I 100% don’t want it subscription)


I am enjoying the episode so far. I had no idea Nick Milo was such a renaissance man!

I am also confirming my conclusion that PKM and zettelkasten is an end in itself for most people doing it—and that it’s not for me. I use Obsidian is one of my primary applications, along with Mail and the Safari browser, but I use it for my own ends and with my own methods.

If I read a book about Socrates and need to remember something about him later, that’s what Wikipedia is for.


Same for me. As a scientist and researcher (now working in scientific sales) I want to like PKM/Zettelkasten systems but rapidly find them unwieldy. All the back and forth with back-linking / cross linking… It’s just not how my brain works when I set out to compare data between sources and doesn’t make me a better writer.


Same. I have had a long career as a journalist and now apply the same skills to writing marketing copy. I developed my own systems of taking and organizing notes during that time.

I tried applying zettelkasten/PKM to my personal reading—I read a lot of news and history in my free time—and finally decided that it wasn’t a good fit for me there either. Too much like work. Indeed, as I went deeper and deeper into that I found I was reading less and less history, so PKM was actually having negative value for me.


I listen to several David Sparks podcasts on Relay FM. I’m very interested in the recent topics about Obsidian, Drafts, and DEVONthink. I think I understand the idea of Drafts being the go to app to capture text. Using Obsidian to organize and link your text documents including those created in Drafts.

How does DEVONthink fit in ? Is DEVONthink in the background cataloging everything? Do I pull documents into a DEVONthink database or leave the file structure that Obsidian is using ? I’m just getting into these apps so there is a good chance I’m missing something. Just seems like there is a bunch of overlap between Obsidians and DEVONthink and that DEVONthink complicates the workflow.

Can anyone point me in the right direction to better understand?


“Too much like work” indeed.

I’ve tried to adopt a more natural approach to TKM after leaving Evernote about a year ago. I used to be very regimented about what I put into EN and for years I couldn’t live without it. But when I looked back through all I had saved a while back, I realized 95% of it was just junk. Articles I never read, notes jotted down I never used etc.

I realize the system is what you make it, but it felt like I spent all my time getting ready for a big test and never actually TAKING the test.

I adopted a more “organic” (as they say) approach about 6 months ago with Obsidian. I use it for only my own thoughts now – whether or not they’re 100% original or stemmed from something I saw or read. This seems to work better as Obsidian is more like my thought bubble. For saving things, I’ll still take the occasional scan or web clip and save it in iCloud, but the days of capturing everything are gone. Important emails stay in Gmail, important photos stay in Photos – its simpler this way (for me).

I sometimes get the “TOTAL PKM BUG” where I’m going to document everything down to how much water I consumed in the day, but at some point it feels like it becomes a self-important journey to nowhere. Look at my 12,000 notes about what I thought about the maple trees in Canada…

I’m being facetious now, but it’s a valid question. How many of us actually need these systems vs how many are being self-indulgent? Where is the point where we overcomplicate things?

This line is different for all of us and it’s not for me to say, but I think the above questions are valid to ask of ourselves from time to time.


Self-indulgent is fine. If people want to build PKMs for their own sake, that’s good.

I am a great advocate of the value of creative and thoughtful play.


Agreed. I was more referencing at what point do I feel I’ve become too self indulgent, and trying to raise this for everyone who may not have considered it before within their own systems.

Occam’s razor is mentioned a lot on the Relay podcasts and I think it applies here. Where that line is for people will vary a lot, and it’s not for others to say where that line is. It’s just a good exercise for us all to look at our systems periodically and say “why am I doing this?” and “is this necessary?”. Maybe it is.


Listened to this overnight while my sick 5 month old slept on me. Great episode, I really enjoyed Nick’s perspective on PKM and the conversation about becoming a manager to stay a creative I found particularly interesting given my ops management background.

Also enjoying the PKM conversation here!


There is overlap. Obsidian’s focus is plain text Markdown files, the kind that you create for your own notes. Other files like PDFs and images don’t seem to be first class citizens in Obsidian. Whereas DEVONthink can help you organize any type of file. Files of just about any type can be stored inside of DEVONthink. Or, and this is what some people do with their Obsidian files, you can point DEVONthink at the location where your files are stored, including an Obsidian vault, and DT will index the files where they are. Before Obsidian existed, some people got by with just DEVONthink and its text editor.


I would argue that the value of the sort of Socrates note in a PKM system that David is talking about over a Wikipedia article is that the note is curated. It shouldn’t be a Wikipedia-style article listing every single fact about or quote by Socrates. It should be the facts or quotes that resonate personally (and maybe a bit about why they resonated).


Soak it up Joe! Miss those days…


This is an excellent point. Information becomes knowledge when we clarify our understanding of it ,its importance to us and how it relates to our other ideas . Not all information has to become (“deep”)knowledge.

My zettelkasten system has notes that I want to think about more(tags,links)Devonthink has notes that I need for work, but I don’t really want to explore in more depth(tags,folders,but minimal linking).

1 Like

Aside from being incredibly sleep deprived, I am loving it!

This is essentially my PKM goal, to have the information that I want be curated and then have the ability to reflect how it’s important to me.

Totally agree. I find a lot of my information isn’t deeply linked, but is organized, curated, and easily accessible/shareable.

This conversation has reminded me of this note I snipped from someone (cannot remember who) but still acts as a reminder to me.

1 Rules for Making Personal Notes 1

I do like the PKM concept and have tried to exploit it. I think it is one of those things that you need to be all in. Which I mentally fully agree with. But actions speak louder than words! :wink:


After experimenting with Obsidian, Craft, Apple Notes, DEVONThink, etc, here is the workflow that works best for me. The advantage of this workflow is that I have the integrated power and flexibility of Apple Notes with the advantages of plain text and linking. I also have the advantage of having all of my notes (personal, work and research ) in iCloud and DEVONThink and accessible via an Obsidian vault if/when I desire. I can also link my notes using Obsidian, DEVONThink or both, if/as desired. Please forgive my handwriting.

I should add that I take and process RESEARCH notes using several approaches:

Highlights from PDFs/docs are extracted and pasted as plain text into my research folders, typed plain text summary/thoughts on something I’ve read or heard are written and placed in my research folders, downloading notes and quotes into research folders from books I’ve read using Bookcision. I use Apple Notes for my work and personal notes–not for research notes.

How I process notes

Here is how I have my DEVONthink databases setup:


I’ve played w obsidian for almost a year now and still confused every time I hear @MacSparky or anyone talk about it magically “revealing connections” between thoughts/notes.

Are they just talking about the “unlinked mentions” feature?

I’ve tried it in a pane, and with the newer inline-mode. I don’t know what I’m missing.

Wouldn’t the note have to be titled exactly, in a very narrow way? (Contrary to a lot of the recommended best practices of titling notes with dates, or as complete thoughts).

For example if I wrote “Aristotle” in the body of a note, and I happened to already have a note titled Aristotle, then obsidian would indicate that in the Unlinked mentions pane, right?

I understand the benefits of many of the other features (local plain text, etc) But as far as the software revealing connections, is “unlinked mentions” what all the excitement is about?

DevonThink has done “unlinked mentions” for years with their AI search feature, which brings up unlinked but related material.

I don’t understand what all the excitement is about, either. I listened to a podcast featuring Nick Milo about a year ago, and heard a lot of bold claims about the brand new exciting features of Obsidian that would totally change thinking, but was unconvinced. Other apps I was using were working for me to produce the results that were touted about Obsidian as “new.”

I have zero desire or motivation to spend huge amounts of time fiddling with an application so I can do everything in that one application. I’d rather go with native Mac and iOS apps that are “best in class” for my needs. I understand that for some, it’s more like a hobby to do all the fiddling and that’s fine for them, just not something I’m interested in. I don’t want to build applications, just use ones that are aesthetically pleasing and have the features I want. I have other hobbies I want to spend my time on. :slightly_smiling_face: