I have to admit that I am struggling a bit — well a lot, actually — with the new found emphasis on linking files using applications like Hook and ‘back links’ in the numerous note taking apps that have sprung up recently.
My issue is this: I fully appreciate the utility of linking files in the context of some distinct activity — what @macsparky calls contextual computing. There is utility in being able to step easily from, say, a to do list item to the client email that caused the creation of the task, to a relevant document; indeed I am experimenting with Hook for exactly that purpose. Linking creates a graph of related pieces of information and works because you have direct knowledge of something (in my example the to do task) that provides an entry point into that graph.
What I don’t grasp is how, particularly in the context of a notes ‘database’, building a graph helps absent that contextual entry point; finding out what one already ‘knows’ about some topic, but can’t remember. Surely that’s the whole purpose of a ‘second brain’ or whatever the latest buzzword is.
Tagging can be useful, but isn’t a general solution; tags are essentially sets, but we can never have a priori knowledge of what sets we will, as opposed to presently, find useful.
Search too can be useful, but it doesn’t scale, see most search engine results. Anyway, you can search for documents that contain specific words, but really what you’re looking for is documents that relate to some specified concept and there are many document types — images, diagrams, maps etc. — that are simply not susceptible to search in the first place.
This is certainly not a new problem, a library would be pretty useless unless you could ask the librarian “do you have anything on X?” The trick must surely involve an extensible, structured set of ‘well known’ categories into which each new accession is placed.
Are there any librarians out there who can explain, at a high level, how a library actually works? And whether the approach is replicable at a personal level?