Boris Mann

Open Source. Community. Decentralized Web. Building dev tools at Fission. Cooks & eats.

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Second Brain

The concept of wikis goes back to an earlier era of the web. With the advent of blogging (and I would say, RSS feeds to subscribe and follow content from all over), wikis went away for a while.

Wikis probably also get a bad rap from their early incarnation inside company intranets. Aside from a bad editing interface, bad search is the big thing that kills company intranets of all kinds. More on the WikiWiki
Various thoughts on wiki software
WikiJS
Used to run this site – see WikiJSWikiJS
[[Wiki]] software built on [[NodeJS]]. Has great [[DeployToHeroku]] support

Home page https://wiki.js.org/
OpenCollective Donations https://opencollective.com/wikijs
Github https://github.com/Requarks/wiki
Deploy via Heroku https://github.com/Requarks/wiki-heroku

An open source, modern and powerful wiki app built on Node.js, Git and Markdown. Can be maintained through a git repo (public or private, Github, Gitlab, etc) with standard git commits, as well as allowing edits through the front e...
.
Outline

https://www.getoutline.com/
https://github.com/outline/outline
https://twitter.com/outlinewiki

Licensed as Business Source License – which I had not heard of. Documenting under [[Licensing]]
My fork: https://github.com/bmann/outline, setup to easily deploy to Heroku (not updated to recent head, yet). The app.json did get merged, so you should use the main version.
The other issue I had, with having mult...
page.

Currently, in 2020, personal and company note repositories are experiencing a renaissance. Notion and Roam ResearchRoam Research
“A note-taking tool for networked thought. As easy to use as a document. As powerful as a graph database. Roam helps you organize your research for the long haul.”
website: https://roamresearch.com/
being the two hype tools.

Second Brain

From reading content online, bookmarking it, keeping notes from online research or in person meetings, I’ve long wanted a way to introspect across all that content.

That is, rather than just using my limited human framework for digital information processing, how do I get more value from it?

As a example, during a day, a week, or a month, how could I run through all the content that I’ve found interesting, created, or saved, and run it through a simple relevance or inference tool that would show the content as clusters of information / concepts, and how they inter-related?

Today, in 2020, such a tool is almost “consumer grade”, other than the fact that it’s not very “consumer accessible”. I’d have to commit to some out-sourced repository, and put it all in there.

What I want to do is gather information over time, compile it into a “second brain”, and

Jobs to be done

The Jobs to be done, or JTBD, concept comes from product management. What “jobs” are you hiring a product to do for you?

So what jobs do I want a second brain to do for me?

Bookmarking

Today, with very good search, why do we bookmark? I think a collection of easy access links in your browser toolbar to apps that you use is great – but that’s not really bookmarking.

I want to document and keep links to apps and tools that I research, use, and/or recommend, in order to find it again later, review if anything has changed, and to share it with other people.

I want to document articles. Maybe it’s keeping a copy of something insightful, especially quoting relevant parts. Yes, like Roam helps to do, to capture these relevant parts. Here’s an example of saving and quoting ‘When Tailwinds Vanish’. I haven’t social shared this anywhere, but have mentioned, shared privately, and discussed it in person with multiple people. Clearly something I should keep around.

Basically, if I’m going to share an article with someone, I should “keep” a copy, same as with recommending an app / tool / person.

For now, I’m highlighting some of them on the home page.

Sharing an article is more likely to be done through a social share on my blog, which in turn gets cross posted to Twitter.1

Worklog

I have used various tools over the years to keep a worklog. [^worklog]

Roam Research has “Daily Notes” by default, which is really effective in getting the context for a particular day down.

I’m currently creating a new worklog (weeklog!) per week, with headers per day. These are running notes, links, and a log of what I’m going / what my TODOs are.

These logs can be super helpful when you get to the end of a day or week and feel “what the hell did I do??” and you can, indeed, look back and see what you did and accomplished.

This bottom up method of what am I doing / need to do this week, and a log of what I did, is useful in sharing progress with a team.

Of course, if you are using a team project management tool / process of some kind, then that “lives” over there, separate from your personal worklog. The main solution is making sure that you can link to those team TODOs. You are either making a private note to remember to make a task, or you are linking to a team task as part of noting in your worklog that that’s what you worked on.

Notes

Taking notes is really “I want to put this somewhere private as notes to myself”.

There’s a HOWTO version of this when I’m taking notes as I attempt to program or install software. I note down errors, add links to pages where I found the answer to something. This might then also lead to searches that end in Tips – how do I add a Unix user? What’s the Git command I need to use again?

To Do

“Personal” to-do’s in the sense that they are private to me. They may be for work, personal projects, or internal family items.

Recommendations

As mentioned above, I’ve got a variety of recommendations. This usually comes from someone asking “what do you use for X?”, or it will come from personal research of figuring out what I should use. My Personal CRMPersonal CRM
I’ve been once again looking for a personal CRM. Something that gets to do’s out of my inbox, collects data and messages on the people that I’m interacting with, and generally keeps me informed and up to date in my communications.
Google is the system that runs my personal and work email accounts & stores my contacts, but it continues to have terrible support for anything other than just storing contacts. And randomly adding someone you email to “My Contacts”.
Apple as well doesn’t do muc...
post is a good example of this in blog post form.

The StartupStartup
Startup and small business operations and efficiency
“Startup” is this weird phrase that means lots of different things. For me, one of the things that it means is really internalizing a couple of different concepts.
One is the [[Lean Startup]], which has lots of baggage associated with it today, but at its core there is the Build - Measure - Learn loop.
You start with a hypothesis (another key concept), like “adding an ecommerce channel will lead to more sales”, and then you build the minima...
page just got a categorized brain dump of a whole bunch of different categories. Some of them are people / service provider recommendations, like using Justin at Osler as a startup lawyer, or Mike at Sprout Accounting for company accounting.

There is a seminal Algolia internal search article2 that I refer to as the ultimate in company wide knowledge search interfaces, and it’s pretty much what I want as well. I just tagged that article with memex for what I’ll use for that shorthand from now on: all my information available and searchable / browseable at the point of looking for something.

It’s one of the reasons that I publish a lot of things publicly online. Future me has a chance of finding it again by doing site:bmannconsulting.com some-search-term to see if I’ve talked about it before.

But, that approach to search means you inherit the bias and algorithmic of search engines who aren’t your friends. We need to have our own search, and again, great search is now becoming “consumer grade”.

Tools

  • WikiJSWikiJS
    [[Wiki]] software built on [[NodeJS]]. Has great [[DeployToHeroku]] support

    Home page https://wiki.js.org/
    OpenCollective Donations https://opencollective.com/wikijs
    Github https://github.com/Requarks/wiki
    Deploy via Heroku https://github.com/Requarks/wiki-heroku

    An open source, modern and powerful wiki app built on Node.js, Git and Markdown. Can be maintained through a git repo (public or private, Github, Gitlab, etc) with standard git commits, as well as allowing edits through the front e...
  • TiddlyWiki
  • Notion
  • Roam ResearchRoam Research
    “A note-taking tool for networked thought. As easy to use as a document. As powerful as a graph database. Roam helps you organize your research for the long haul.”
    website: https://roamresearch.com/
  • Memex
  • JoplinJoplin
    Open source, markdown-based note taking & to do. Originally designed to import Evernote .enex files.
    https://joplin.cozic.net/
    Available on many platforms, including mobile apps and even terminal. Uses different cloud services for synchronization, but encrypted with your own keys, eg [[Dropbox]].[[I don’t use it any more. I’m using Roam for private notes and its mobile web interface works fine for quick note taking.::lmn]]
  • LogSeqLogSeq
    https://logseq.com
    From the Github README:

    Logseq is a local-first, non-linear, outliner notebook for organizing and sharing your personal knowledge base.
    Use it to organize your todo list, to write your journals, or to record your unique life.
    The server will never store or analyze your private notes. Your data are plain text files and we currently support both Markdown and Emacs Org mode (more to be added soon).
    In the unlikely event that the website is down or cannot be maintained, your d...
  • ObsidianObsidian
    Desktop Markdown editor for Mac, Windows, and Linux that has built in backlinking, wikilinks, and [[Zettelkasten]] support.

    https://obsidian.md
    [[@obsdmd::https://twitter.com/obsdmd]]

    License model is free for personal use, they intend to have paid licenses for commercial use, much like the licensing model for IDEs. Personal users pay for early access and other community features.
    From the home page:

    In our age when cloud services can shut down, get bought, or change privacy policy any day...
  • AthensAthens

    Website https://athensresearch.github.io/athens/ (this is the live app)
    Github https://github.com/athensresearch/athens
    [[Open Collective]] https://opencollective.com/athens
    Twitter @athensresearch

    [[Open Source]] using [[Eclipse Public License]]
    Written in [[ClojureScript]] and [[DataScript]], same as [[Roam Research]].
    Updates
    July 2020: MVP Update, Funding, and Why I Started Athens

    We are creating and will create vast amounts of value, and we should capture value proportionally. Being o...

Concepts

Tag Clouds

We look at something like a tag cloud that any one person creates. A tag cloud is fairly useless for browsing or search long term, but it’s an interesting artifact which can help highlight or discover themes that grow and shrink over time.

For myself, the “Drupal” tag would be large and prominent from 2003 to 2010 or so.

Digital Exhaust

For a conference – or really any kind of event – there is a “digital exhaust” of content around it, from tweets to checkins to bookmarks, to the in turn likes and re-shares of those items.

  1. for search purposes, should have all the content on my blog accessible here as well and/or available for transclusion (which is really just the case that generalized transclusion from a URI is extremely useful)

  2. Well, I just spent like 10 minutes trying to find that article, which pretty much proves that I need to be storing articles I find impactful. It was on their Medium blog, which they don’t index in their company home page “Blog” search :)