Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Why the surge in digital note taking?

Since February 2020 the lockdowns have forced us all to divert our attention to being more focused on activities and interests that seem to have the key word of productivity associated with them.

From physical/mental health to the pursuit of intellectual health (and wealth) even Spirituality of all shades too; we’ve certainly added to the landscape of seekers who’ve found and enabled newer and even rediscovered older tools for our personal, academic and business KPI’s.

The surge in digital note taking (DNT) is interesting, and hey what is digital note taking anyways?
Well it’s real simple; DNT is good old note taking inside digital products; that’s all.

These digital products?
They’ve been given prominence by the huge number of users that have initially and artificially been engorged by the huge number of people stuck and home due to the Covid thing.

The list of DNT products is getting stupid crazy long, and they’‘re being developed at an exponential rate so as to (by nature of the market) totally overwhelm and confuse any prospective user of such products.

For the most part they’re all mostly cloud based; a few have become established as mainstream for now and they’re all pretty damn good at what they purport to do.

Roam Research seems to be the leader of the pack by the sheer numbers of users. I even have colleagues and friends who’re raving about Roam; and yes there’s a cult following of Roam too.

The other product that is as mainstream as Roam is a surprisingly newcomer to the DNT arena and the product is called Obsidian.

And as far as I can view at this time there’s another upcoming and mainstream product called Remnote that seems to be capturing a Huge amount of deserved attention too.

What to do though; as an old school dude, I still take notes inside my old pencil and paper moleskin note book. The newer approaches are indeed enticing aren’t they?

I’ve actually tuned into Notion as my default for information handling.
Roam is an ongoing learning process for me and TBH Remnote seems to be the tool I may settle with as its local storage and suits me just fine regarding personal privacy and data security.

I mentioned all or most of these newer DNT apps are cloud based; and that’s a problem for many like me who rely on E2EE and 2FA.
End to end encryption and two function authentication may be something you’ve willingly overlooked due to some of these products looking and behaving oh so proficiently; yet the lack of security and privacy leaves users opened to intrusions and data mining.

Looking at these products with their standard bullet point structure and lack of file/folder structure (Obsidian excluded); they seem to be another expression of what a knowledge managed Twitter flow would and should look like. BTW I don’t use the word hate a lot but I do truly hate Twitter as a platform for vitriolic shit talk, bullying and vile chatter; yet it works as a social media portal (such an oxymoron eh).

Digital note taking though eh; it’s almost becoming standard, and the question we often are asked of by friends and colleagues is “what product do you use. The cult of Roam has ensured Roam as being, wel a cult following that borders on fanaticism (the good kind).

Yet as I scan through my phone (both ios and android) I am able to take notes and sync if I wish to the cloud and desktop too; and all for free. No they don’t have the functionality of Roam et al, yet Digital Note Taking is here and it’s here to stay.

The further development (read evolution) is astonishing and rather overwhelming. Look up the blatant copies of Roam and you’ll get the gist that there’s a lot of un-originality around too.

Obsidian was without a doubt a reaction to Roam and then we have Remnote that is focused on knowledge retention (super relevant) and spaced repetition too.

There are tons of other unoriginal copies of these products (basically Roam) yet they all have their relevancy for the water to find its own level eventually and maybe what shall emerge is a convergence of tools into a newer and more relevant standard. Markdown is the thing though eh, and we are preserving textual thoughts, feeling and potential game changing actions via the MD realm and preserving our thought Journaling for future generations to ruminate over.
The here and now though looks like a battlefield that may be eventually strewn with the bodies of developments that came, tried to conquer and failed; yet there may be a few who shall even usurp even the current leaders. Time will of course tell for sure as it always does.

I must not fail to mention the battlefield includes a too I have settled with for my personal, academic and business knowledge models; that product is Notion. It has quite simply transformed the ways I create, manage and express my information and knowledge.

The question though that I cannot fathom an answer to though remains to be: Why the surge in digital note taking?

Pray tell the answer?

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