Learning Reflection The Internet

A System of Notes

Replied to Differentiating online variations of the Commonplace Book: Digital Gardens, Wikis, Zettlekasten, Waste Books, Florilegia, and Second Brains by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (

A fluorescence of note taking tools
Over the past three or so years there has been a fluorescence of digital note taking tools and platforms.
Some of these include:
Open source projects like Org Mode, Logseq, Foam, Jupyter, Trilium, Databyss, Athens, Dendron, Anagora, and
Closed sourced…

Interesting history and comparison of personal compendiums of information and forms of personal note taking over the years!

I dove into using a digital garden 9 months ago, and decided to use WordPress primarily because I already knew how to use it and set it up, and other platforms sounded a bit excessive considering I wasn’t sure how I’d like it. Turns out I love keeping a digital garden, so it could be a good time to revisit what works well and what could improve it.

A couple things I want to figure out a better way to do are create a landing page that’s category-focused versus chronological and work out bidirectional linking / better interlinking. Looking forward to hearing others’ thoughts about improvements too!

Another aspect I need to think about a bit is developing a process or system for revisiting notes and refining and connecting those thoughts. As you point out, what’s the *point* of the notes. What do I want out of this – is it enough that the process of logging something I’ve read nudges me to reflect on it? Maybe, or maybe there’s something more tangible I’d like as a further step.

“People are “taught” (maybe told is the better verb) to take notes in school, but they’re never told why, what to do with them, or how to leverage them for maximum efficiency.”

I like the distinction pointed out that digital gardens are intended to be public, while many of the other forms are chiefly personal. I’m not sure why the public aspect appeals to me, but I like that approach better than a private database – maybe because it feels similar to blogging? I’m curious what value one person’s notes are to others – whether the public element is actually useful – when I’ve tried to share notes taken at events with others, and something indelible isn’t translated without that original experience. But, often I find it’s not only notes I’m taking, but also starting to make connections and process / reflect – which seems potentially more useful or interesting to others? Is it useful to the person writing to know that what’s written may be readable by others and that spurs deeper thought in reflection – or is that more blog-like than note-like?

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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