Readout for PKM Self Support Group

Our random group met for the second time. Here are some rough notes, I took:

  • We’re using a mix of Obsidian (several), Heptabase (1) and Craft
  • Outside of the PKM tool itself - we have people using: DevonThink (as a backing store for PDFs etc), Zotero (also a backing store); Reader @ Readwise: (I think the Beta is now wide open if you have a paid account)
  • Also mentioned: - text + highlights from a podcast → export to obsidian, notion, etc (free while in beta); - transcription from audio/video - 3hrs/mth free. I’m aware readwise has this on their roadmap for reader with no dates attached.
  • Challenges we face:
    – Me: I use DevonThink to review a massive body of articles and Readwise to read. It would elegant if they’re a clean/official way to get my DT Reading List sent to Readwise reader. I suspect I will need to resort to Keyboard Maestro as neither DT or Readwise seem hugely focused on Shortcuts for now
    – Representing MindMaps/ConceptMaps in Obsidian. @MikeS has got me into the idea of mind mapping for book notes. There is a plugin (GitHub - lynchjames/obsidian-mind-map: An Obsidian plugin for displaying markdown notes as mind maps using Markmap.), however the limitation is that it doesn’t allow for linking between nodes. ;-( (see: Concept map vs Mind map - What are the differences? or Concept Map vs. Mind Map - How They Differ). I’ve tried ExcaliDraw and for mapping work I spent way too much time on the layout and not enough on the mapping. There are MindMap plugins for Obsidian, however only one Markmind seems to offer the ability to connect nodes as per a concept maps

Ray shared how he uses Snipd: Using Snipd With Obsidian To Maximize Learning From Podcasts | by Raymond D Sims | Sep, 2022 | Medium and the results: Themes and Soundbites From ‘Tools for Thinking’ Podcast Episodes One Through Six | by Raymond D Sims | Oct, 2022 | Medium

I shared my attempts to build a book reading. The notes for this are long enough that I will post in a separate thread. See: Book Dashboard and Notetaking in Obsidian

To make this group more useful, I’m going to start posting about it more widely and challenge people to commit what their plan for the month is. My goal is to review small things other people are doing and learn in greater depth from each other.

My commitment for the next month:

  • Write a longer note in Obsidian (on the effects of bonuses - hint they’re generally distortive). The goal would be to flesh out a topic from the research and my understanding.
  • Write summary notes on at least two books

This is a tease, but the Obsidian team recently shared a preview of the Canvas plugin. It was only a 5s gif or whatever but I suspect the plugin will fulfill your needs here!



Where can I find the gif? On Discord??

Yes - I’ve not seen anything that I can really pay attention to yet. That promise is what stops me trying other plugins and also stops me paying for another year of MindNode.

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Yes, but only as a tease to the Supporter folks as yet! Sorry :sweat_smile:

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I’m a Supporter and even I haven’t seen this fabled gif.

Again, I want to thank @mlevison and the group members for your kind sharing of your insightful thoughts and making the efforts to take these notes for the rest of us (particularly myself) to take benefit of the discussion. You guys truly embracing the community spirit of this forum !!


Just called your attention to it via @'ing you in a reply to the post.

I also found it now!

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Thanks, I discovered there was a while section called VIP and I didn’t know it existed. Mind blown.

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Thanks for sharing this @mlevison.

It’s very generous.

I love seeing these notes.

I’ve been pondering where I draw my line between DT reading and Readwise/Reader too. At the moment I haven’t delved into reading PDFs in Reader. For work there’s probably not much value (I don’t want the scientific research I read for work turning up in Readwise, and I need to write notes etc for DT). However I have lots of PDFs that aren’t strictly work-related. I presently highlight and make notes of them in DT, but I think it would be nice for that to be surfaced via Readwise.

One question I asked of the Readwise folks recently was what their plans are for exporting highlighted PDFs. Because I don’t think Reader is fit for purpose without that ability (I.e. we need to be able to remove our highlighted PDFs and retain the notes we’ve made in file). It’s on their roadmap once core functionality is delivered apparently. I will wait for that and see how it works I think. (If the highlights aren’t recognised by DT I doubt I’ll use it! The Readwise team are well-aware of the problem of non-standardised PDF handling so hopefully they will avoid that issue!)

The lack of good PDF export is exactly why I stopped using Readwise Reader. Nice to know that it might come eventually!

Thanks Mark for the nice write-up and the monthly challenge.
My November commitment is to publish at least two more Medium articles that go further down my current rabbit hole of metacognition and how our PKMS could better support “thinking”.
This started with this Twitter thread and next to the first Medium article on a checklist for Good Thinking. I’m now working on an article for Types of Thinking and separately one on Conversational AI for Coaching, which I believe has some crossover applicability to PKMS/LifeOS.

Can anyone help me imagine what this might become? Is Canvas a third party tool bolted onto Obsidian, or are they developing a new core plugin? I’ve had some trials with Excalidraw (which my better half discovered and now uses daily to sort out all her thinking!), but I couldn’t quite get it to work for me. I let my MindNode subs lapse recently. But a good built-in visualisation of notes in Obsidian would fulfil lots of what the recent Focus episode on Mindmapping also advocated for. A match made in heaven between Obsidian as a ext-based outliner and freeform brain storming?

I realise I may just need to put my money towards becoming a Supporter – and if this is still under wraps do just ignore me. Exciting stuff though!

To my knowledge aside from the fleeting video even supporters haven’t seen this feature yet.

FWIW your thinking with respect to MindNode matches my own. I will wait and see if Obsidian does something beyond visual outlining.

I’m an Obsidian Supporter to give the developers the financial signal that it is worth continuing their efforts.

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You’ve reminded to put some money where my mouth is, and I’ve just got me an ‘Insider’ badge :smile: Thanks for the update. I can wait!

Nov meeting is - Mon 28th at 3pm ET - zoom link: Join Zoom Meeting

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The Nov readout: @kcfancher was the only other person who attended, he using Tana.

Here some things we discussed:

  • World takeover using PKM’s
  • Tana and tags - the thing that I found interesting is that Tana makes tags a full blown database construct with their own fields. Further you can do some refactoring of this tags and the changes propagate to all other uses of the tag. Accomplishing this in Obsidian would harder, since Obsidian treats everything as text - so if you want to play with all instances of a tag it would require search/replace functionality
  • We touched on the difference between a fleeting → permanent note etc. I noted, I don’t see the point in these distinctions some notes start small, as I see them and need more material I add it. These notes are never done, just good enough for now. This is a contrast to Zettlekasten world where things are more heavily classified
  • Refactoring for notetaking - I noticed taking notes on a conference I went to recently, I found handy to start the note in the main conference note. If the topic was interesting then eventually I refactored it into its own note. If wasn’t, it stayed in the conference topic.

Last observation, I’ve run three sessions with a rotating cast of characters each time. It’s difficult to build momentum this way. I will the put the exercise on pause. In early Jan, I will reach out to few people to see if they’re interested in creating a PKM mastermind group that commits to a reasonable schedule.