From Notepad to Personal Wiki

I am in the process of switching to a new tool for my notes. The process is far from finished because it is a big change. It is not about the notes related to my work or to coherent projects, but about the tiny scattered notes that arise along the way while dealing with different things, small thoughts that occur to me at many occasions. Especially since I started reading blogs which contain so many stimulating ideas, these notes have proliferated, and with now approx. 900 of them, my old method collapsed: Formerly, the notes were gradually assembled into 8 long linear (!) files, with few non-clickable (!) cross-references because the files were managed by – Notepad.

Now that I decided to move to a personal wiki (Wacko 4.2 due to a recommendation of M. Röll), I realize how hard it is for me to give up certain affordances of Notepad. The biggest advantage was immediacy. Writing such small notes must be extremely fast, or more precisely: extremely little distracting, because one must leave the task at hand for a moment and must scribble something down that needs to be understood many weeks later when there is time enough to look at these notes. And then, assembling and reading them needs to be extremely immediate again, with no clicking around, because the emerging connections among the individual thoughts are still so vague and volatile, and there are not yet any titles which could serve as click-texts (or handles) to juggle them around.

Tiny notepad files have almost completely replaced my former 3.5 by 3.5 inch paper slips, because they resemble them so closely (see my #68) and impose no loss of immediacy (except when the PC is switched off). Perhaps this is the important first step to the immediacy that S. Downes describes (slide 2 of his 4 Mb presentation called “What do we see when we look through a computer?”).

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