I've been on an odd kick lately, trying to dig deeper into how I best take in, process, and use information. What information I want/need in my brain. I've been trawling sources on digital gardens, on evergreen notes, on Zettelkasten... I've come to the conclusion that CS people love creating new tools to organize information hierarichically, non-hierarchically, as personal wikis, as digital boxes of notecards — look my point is, there's a bajillion ways I've found to sort stuff and zero that I've found truly appealing, intuitive, or helpful.
Maybe I just need to give them more time. After all, the best way to remember anything is spaced repetition, right? Some books in my library have annotations I could find blindfolded for how many times I've gone back to them. However, I am pushed to wonder if that's more a matter of repetition or space? Do I learn best when I can associate information with space? Is X tool superior to Y because it comes with a map of links and subheadings? I'm not sure. Hell, maybe I'm just taking in too much information to test these systems and not giving enough time to feeling that info, letting it fall into place naturally.
For organization's sake (lmao), here's what I've tried so far:
- Dendron Current. unsure how to structure everything
- Zettelkasten Just like a notecard-based commonplace, I got anxious thinking of managing all these little "slips of paper."
- TiddlyWiki Without a visual, I felt somewhat lost. Even once I installed TiddlyRoam and had a map, something about the interface feels...I'm not sure.
In writing this, I realize that the root of my struggle is the Gordian knot at the very heart of these various systems: organization. As a typical student, you attend classes with neat titles and course numbers and syllabi. As an independent learner (a "Knowledge Worker") I must direct my own course of study and devise my own syllabus: do I consider spatial technology its own topic, or is it simply a subset of technology? Or architecture? Without a goal in mind — a project or blog post or discussion into which I can channel this knowledge — organizing and structuring this information proves challenging.
So then the question is, by what North Star will I orient my education? My attention-deficit mind has always been lured by tangents, as evidenced by the completely irrelevant marginalia in the few books I own. I close asking, incessantly, do I focus on digging more deeply into what I've already read, or on drawing back and trying to synthesize information? Do I go read something else and hope it stops me dead in my tracks, giving me that mental stillness I need to properly ponder? Do I arbitrarily draw a project from a hat and work toward it, hoping meaning comes naturally? For all the workflows and inbox methods I've found, none of them seem to be able to impose order on my racing thoughts, the questions I cannot seem to capture, much less answer, as they race by.