How to cope with having fleshy human brain

My personal knowledge setup

So, what is personal knowledge management? TLDR, it's a name for the process of organizing your tasks, thoughts, information you know, so a fairly useful concept.

I guess almost everyone at least at some point of their life tried to bring more organization: used a calendar, checklists, notebook etc. Perhaps you also were learning something and were wondering of more efficient ways of memorizing, organizing and acting on that information.

This is what I'm loosely going to refer as PKM further on.

Some of the reasons what I'm going to write about might be useful to you:

  • you generally want to be more organized in your life but not sure how
  • you are reading lots of stuff, but then you feel like you quickly forget it (especially on the Internet, where information is denser than in books)
  • you think that flesh is weak and want to offload remembering things to external persistent medium

I'm writing that because my 'system' has more or less settled and stabilized, and I feel that I could be useful by helping out other people and sharing the ideas.

At this point, it also starts getting hard to keep up with all the things and hacks I implemented and maintaining let alone improving them, so I need to spread my ideas to the community.

A bit of disclaimer: some of the things I am doing may seem excessive and tedious – but you don't have to use exactly the same setup, I'm merely sharing for you something to kick off! My own setup has been molded throughout the years with many influences from different people (who I will try to credit as long as I recall). Often some things I'm trying seem like too much effort even for me, but if you never overshoot, you might never hit that sweet spot between efficiency and convenience.

I'm very happy to discuss if you have any questions/suggestions/etc.

So, this is the plan, which I will fill with links as I write.

1 STRT task/todo management

I'm in progress of writing a longer post, but in short I'm using org-mode. If you think you're not ready for org-mode, I recommend trying Remember The Milk.

2 TODO personal wiki

Wiki is a somewhat more universally understood term (unlike 'personal knowledge repository'), so I am gonna stick with it even though it's. That's just a fancy name for somewhere where you store your notes. Some of the things I tried and used:

  • random text/.doc files (up to 2010?)
  • zim (2011-2015)
  • gitit (2012/2013)
  • Evernote (2013)
  • Sublime Text on top of markdown/text files
  • Google Keep (2015-2017)
  • Latex documents for math/physics notes (2015-2016)
  • Remember The Milk (2016-2018)
  • Org mode notes (2017-now)

4 TODO logging and capturing

Capturing or clipping is a way of getting pieces of information/links in your personal wiki. It has to be seamless, requiring minimal effort. I'm using:

5 STRT processing and organizing information

7 TODO discovering new information

Mainly, to consume new information passively, I'm using:

  • RSS (2009-)
  • pinboard (2014-)
  • reddit (2016-)
  • twitter (2010-)

In addition I'm using a tool of my own that monitors results for certain queries on pinboard, reddit, twitter, hackernews and github. That way I can just read summaries of the topics I'm interested at once a month instead making sure I don't miss interesting content and people. I'll release it sometime soon!

8 STRT spaced repetition and habits

9 TODO syncing

Continuous sync of my data and information is a biggie for me.

  • first, I've always had one desktop/big sturdy laptop and one small portable for travel/coffee shops/etc
  • second, I need to be able to access information on my phone, when I may not have good network (or any)

Eventual sync (e.g. via Git) might be fine for personal wiki. For todos, however, I really don't want to have this overhead of thinking whether I need to do some extra work in order to sync.

I'm using Dropbox and Syncthing to access my data and information from every device.

10 STRT regular backups

I export most of my digital trace and regularly back up pretty much everything. I'm using borg backup for it.

11 TODO timeline

I've got a personal timeline of all my events, e.g. reading/watching/sleeping/exercising/etc.

12 STRT tools and infrastructure

  • I'm using special my. Python package to access all of my personal information and interact with it.

13 TODO future

Things that I want to try or integrate eventually:

  • Voice interaction

    It's impressive how pathetic current state of affairs is. For instance, even if I was willing to accept Google Keep, Google Home isn't able to integrate with it!

    If you say 'ok google please take a note', it would take it and it ends up… Erm, I had to google it, and apparently they end up in some obscure Google Assistant tab, not accessible from Desktop. Must be a result of some internal promo fights.

    Anyway, I hope Mycroft AI gets better and then it would be easy to work with it since it's open source.

  • VR

    Not sure yet how to incorporate it in my knowledge routine. I can imagine using it for very specific tasks and visualization. Perhaps some sort of method of loci? So far it seems that using textual representation and keyboard are the fastest way.

  • Entity extraction and that sort of thing