my journey into a powerful digital note-taking system. from paper to plain-text

June 12, 2023

There I was, it was 2017, once again looking for a new app, to organize my ideas. I've been through all the common apps, but all of them ended in a chaotic mess.

Back then I thought the best way to write was in something like at Microsoft word. Now, I havn't even opened Word for months, a lot has changed, but where did it all begin?


While going down an internet rabbit whole, I found a Ryan Holiday blogpost. That maniac wrote all his books with the help of index cards notes, stored in a huge box.

If there was a fire in my house, my box of notes is the one thing I would go back to safe.
  • Ryan Holiday (parraphased)

I digged deeper, I learned this technique was called Zettelkasten. A mad scientists (sociologist) by the name of Niklas Luhmann, born almost a centure ago managed to write over 70 books with the help of these pieces of paper.


My journey began, I created my own index card system in paper.


It as amazing, but of course it was quickly getting out of control.

I was moving countries at the time, so I scanned every index card and stored it as images in a folder that I'll never revisit again.


Time to start over, I finally found plain text files. Endless hours testing new software. More hours moving all my files from one app to the other.

I decided to go hard core, I hear of this thing called vim. I've always been wanting to try out Linux in the past. I learned that most vim users used Linux, so this was my chance. I installed Linux, destroyed all my other apps, got rid of Microsoft Word, and started writting everything down in plain-text files in vim. Then I discovered I could use vim in emacs (spacemacs) The world was mine.


But from the moment I started feeling the benefits of having an awesome plain text set up, I wanted to share what I've learned.

The problem was that it took me 1 whole year to find the right solution, and a whole other year to learn Linux, vim and spacemacs.

There was no way people just getting started would want to go through all that trouble. So I had to go back to square one. I needed to find a user-friendly yet powerful tool that allowed me to teach these techniques to others.

Now, I finally knew what I was looking for:

  • Powerful [[wikilinks]] connections
  • Plain text local files
  • Markdown support
  • Vim shortcuts
  • Awesome Community

This is the story of how I found Obsidian.


Check out my Obsidian Course