I am looking for a little bit of advice end guidance. My ultimate desire here, and use case, is to find a piece of software that can function as a personal wiki. I am a knowledge worker (college professor). My workflow needs in this regard are quite specific, and require a little bit of context (ok I lied, a lot).
Use case & dilemma
I teach history at the college level. History as a discipline by its very nature demands a mastery of facts and figures, historical interpretations, citations, sources, etc. But my concern is not with the passive collection and storage of all of this information. I use DEVONthink for that.
My real concern is in my classroom. I do not prepare lectures or present “canned“ content to my students. They operate on a system referred to as “Socratic dialogue“. In essence I ask students, “what questions do you have?“ The way that it works is a student will then ask about X, Y, or Z topic, and I reply. This same pattern goes on and on through a chaotic path of question and answers leading towards clarity on a given historical question, topic or phenomena.
My dilemma, is that even though I have a significant mastery of the historical material, I cannot possibly remember everything. Just imagine the vast array of things that I would need to recall on the fly to be effective. Now, I do get by and I do well (in my opinion). But for a variety of reasons, my ability to recall can be affected by externalities or just simply I don’t have that information being asked about.
Now my goal, is not to be the person that always has the answer. I think it’s pedagogically effective to demonstrate that I am a learner just like my students. But I still need to be the guide. I still need to know. I want to be able to give myself a crutch in recalling specific data.
My Solution so far…
At this point my workflow within the classroom consists of the use of two iPad pros. One, on my left is my knowledge base. The other, on my right, is my digital whiteboard. On my knowledge base iPad, I have isolated between a few text editors (as plain text or mark down is the best solution for long-term storage & stability) as a wiki hub.
I have a “dashboard“ text file for each course. On this dashboard is a table or list of wiki links to a sub page. Each sub page is a more specific set of wikilinks and data. In that sense I am creating my own Wikipedia. During class discussion, I will respond to student questions in the moment and will click into or search my text knowledge base to access data that might be of use to the given discussion. And this is where my dilemma emerges.
“Knowledge base “software requirements
I have experimented with:
Specific Feature Requirements
- Wiki-linking (Basically the ability to click links to take me to different notes)
- In-text search (preferably regex - for quick search)
- Ability to link to local files (in essence Devonthink to go)
- Bear has been the most effective year so far. My limitation though with Bear is that it does not offer in text search, or anything close to regular expressions.
- Notion is an incredible tool, and I love the database features. But you cannot link to local files. To be honest, I am seriously considering giving up on local file access and just going with this piece of software. But I am not particularly keen on its real lack of off-line access.
- DEVONThink To Go works well but it is somewhat cumbersome in the fact that you cannot access links in “edit“ view of your text documents. In addition, it’s ugly. Now aesthetics is not the most important concern, but it does put up a little bit of friction. But as I am writing this, I feel like this might be the best solution as my perceived “limitations“ are not that significant.
There seems to be very few apps with this very specific feature set. Am I wrong? Thoughts?
Thanks for reading this very long post. I do hope it is not just beneficial to me, but also to others.