My main gripes with all of the “Knowledge Management” apps is that they aren’t designed to do what I need. I split my workflow into two areas:
- Day to Day Notes
- Long-Term Knowledge Management
“Day to Day notes” might include grocery lists, Amazon Locker PIN unlock codes, or a phone number to make an appointment with a new dentist. These are things I need to create, edit, and reference on the fly. And generally are not useful beyond a few weeks.
Long-Term Knowledge Management is stuff like:
I spend 5 hours researching tax code to figure out how to file specific tax forms. I want to document and summarize what I learned, to include some screenshots so next year, I can reference it
I do some client work with proprietary IT systems. I am allowed to take notes and screenshots, as long as they don’t include confidential data, however all screenshots are proprietary and I need to safeguard them. I can’t post unencrypted to the cloud. I might spend 3 weeks doing a project, and in 6 months might need to reference these notes.
I attend a seminar of whatever topic. I take notes, embed screenshots.
I travel to a new city and I put together some maps of the place. I take notes on what restaurants I liked, disliked, what I ordered, what hotels I stayed at, etc. In 5 years I might go back and can’t remember the thing.
All of the apps I’ve used try to do both of these things which makes them not great at either. When I’m opening a “long-term” document, I don’t want to accidentally edit it. Some apps have a read-only mode, and an edit mode which is nice.
Creating relational links can be amazing. For some things, but not every thing. I don’t want to backlink my Map of downtown Boise Idaho to my college psychological class notes. More than half of my long-term stuff, I don’t want to crosslink. Even if I disable crosslinks for some sections, if everything is in the same “vault” then Search will find a lot of irrelevant stuff to what I’m actually looking for.
There’s also the issue of platform lock-in for many apps.
Given all of this, I’m strongly considering creating a series of PDFs for all of my long-term knowledge management stuff. I can store them encrypted. They aren’t locked into a specific app. I won’t risk editing them by accident. I can create different PDFs for different “buckets” so cross linking and searching isn’t a problem.
The long-term stuff isn’t anything I need to edit on-the-fly. I envision the PDFs are created and edited on my laptop, synced to my iOS devices. I can use Apple Notes or Standard Notes for the day-to-day note tracking, which could include a note on edits to the PDFs. So if I’m out with only my iPhone, and I see the need for a change to one of my knowledge PDFs, I can document it in the Apple Note, and later when home, update the PDF.
I’m thinking of using Apple Pages as the PDF creator. It’s flexible in the editing realm. The documents can live as Pages files and be exported to PDF. If Pages ever “goes away”, I can export them as MS Word documents.
I dont have much experience with PDF readers other than Good Reader on iOS. The goal is to have this collection of PDFs that are accessible with me on my iOS devices and easily searchable.