I just came across this interesting thread of concepts and mockups of some potential PKM-like tools and other related ideas, and it got me back to thinking - as I often do - about what the future of this space might look like.
I’ve been watching the development of Codex fairly closely, eagerly anticipating the beta, and it too showcases some interesting ideas in this space. The Codex Twitter account even has a series of tweets specifically dedicated to “crazy ideas”:
Others, whether software developer or not, have expressed their own visions of what an ideal PKM or task or project manager (or all 3 combined) might look like for them, or tried to articulate the limitations they see currently.
Where do you think this space is headed? What would you like to see in a PKM tool? Do you hope for “one system to rule them all”, i.e. “all in one”, or do you expect things to be spread out among multiple systems forever?
This Article is quite interesting . These are my thoughts regarding the article :
The author puts down a list of characteristics that might be important for a PKM tool , I am sharing my comments or putting a personal spin on them here :
1. A powerful organisation scheme
- While he is right about the need , I feel he hasn’t explored enough .
- According to him , on top of tags and hierarchies , being able to link the notes / data is also important to organise one’s PKM
- We are now in the era of Linked Note-Taking Tools like Roam , RemNote , Obsidian , Logseq, etc. Almost every new note taking app lets us link and also has back-linking features . Having used most of them , links have certainly made it more easier to stumble across useful notes/ data while trying to recover related data . But they are still broken , IMO, due to the inability to define the link .
- Linking two notes together does make them more organised , but it isn’t Rich organisation because you cant define why they are linked together .
I believe this is where Relations become more powerful than Links.
- Let me take one specific use case to explain why , while using a digital tool to practise Zettelkasten it would be great to have the ability to link and see backlinks for the notes in the slip boxes . But imagine if you could further define these links and categorise them into :
2. Supporting argument
3. Negative argument
4. Literature note for reference
5. To research further
- Imagine Obsidian’s graph view , and now imagine if a single Zettelkasten note shows all its links with these relations defined as edges on the graph . Now , that, would definitely make a graph visually powerful and useful . You immediately know which note is what and you can get to the intended note without having to tag it excessively and make extensive query lines to retrieve the notes you need .
- As far as I know , Codex is the only tool that is currently capable of doing that . But its far from being complete - a post for another day.
2. The UI and UX of Linking and data input
- This is very underrated and something that I definitely have to appreciate Roam Research at having achieved . It’s currently one of the best tools that gives the user a frictionless input scheme along with the powers of linking .
- The problem I see here is that Organisation capabilities and Intuitive UI/UX are tough to balance . The more organisation power you give the user , you also end up creating friction during writing , where someone starts thinking about where to put this , how to frame this etc. rather than just writing it .
- Roam has successful found a good balance at least between linking and frictionless writing . I am yet to see a tool to find that balance between relations and frictionless UX.
3. Powerful Visualisations
- Currently , IMO , Obsidian does this most beautifully and also with some sort of functionality . But as far as following the links are concerned , this is still unexplored space and one that Codex definitely aspires to occupy , I believe .
- A PKM must enable the user to visualise his database in at least two ways :
- Bird’s eye view of the whole database - the starcharts and map views (hyperfine village)
- Contextual view - users must have the ability to generate custom graphs based on a selection criteria that could include tags , collections etc . The graph should then be generated based on only the current criteria and its immediate relations / links and the user should be able to explore more relations / links as he clicks on the current horizons - “fog of war” like experience .
P.S. Being able to visualise every connection ever made in the database is pretty much useless if you dont have any sort of control / filter over it .
Upon further exploration , I found that the author of this article is actually working on a project called Topic Trails . Really interesting project for anyone who reads a lot of research papers and wants to write notes on them and connect them .
Its a work in progress I suppose.