Zettelkasten Forum


One App to Rule Them All? Notion, Bear, Others?

Hello! I've been learning about and working on building my zettelkasten but I keep bumping into the issue of what platform to use. For a while I've been using Bear and find it super easy to use, plus I can export all my notes as text files for backups. But what do people use for raw data or anything that isn't research or writing related? And has your archive outgrown your platform?

I was sticking with Google Sheets and Airtable for a bit but recently I started playing with Notion. It seems like it has a lot of uses but I'm struggling to figure out how to use it for ZK. I was drawn to it for the database aspect and maybe for task management. The examples I've seen of a Zettelkasten in Notion, like making a table with links to zettels, seems like it would get cumbersome when that list of notes grows. In some basic testing I also found the search feature was not reliable. Is this how others here use Notion?

As for dealing with data, is there a program that seems to work well? Sometimes I just need to be able to access lots of information and have a good way to filter it or analyze it in order to learn something. I find Google Sheets to be a bit clunky compared to database programs like Airtable and Notion. On the other hand, Sheets can handle a ton of data and I don't have to pay a subscription.

I had accepted the idea that I'd be stuck spreading my second brain across multiple platforms to handle knowledge, data, and tasks, but then Notion made me think maybe it could handle all of it. Or maybe I'm just going in circles trying to find "the one app" that will do everything I want, do it well, and maybe even not cost a ton of money. I think now I'm just spending my time trying to get organized rather than doing tasks or deep thinking.

Any thoughts?

(For what it's worth, I haven't tried The Archive yet but my impression was it's text only so adding in spreadsheets or project management might not work?)

Comments

  • @Shanna said:
    (For what it's worth, I haven't tried The Archive yet but my impression was it's text only so adding in spreadsheets or project management might not work?)

    @Shanna I use a variety of apps. The Archive is excellent for a PKM Zettelkasten. Being "text only" is an advantage it this realm. My spreadsheets and Project Management work are not part of my Zettelkasten - nor do I think they belong in a Zettelkasten. Spreadsheets and Project Management work is best done with apps that specialize in those functions. The Archive specializes in Personal Knowledge Management and creation. I keep most of my reference material in Evernote or Google Sheets. I reference back and forth as needed.

    Will Simpson
    kestrelcreek.com

  • @Shanna What kind of data? I keep most of my tables in my Zettelkasten, too. I access them via TableFlip: https://tableflipapp.com/

  • @Will, I think I've seen various approaches for information to include in the zettelkasten or not, in terms of what makes sense for the individual. I've seen a few posts on Reddit for example where people include pretty much any piece of info they create, polished notes or not. I thought if there was a way to keep all my "thinking" material in one place, why not?

    @sfast, I have a smattering of different data floating around. Inventories, experiments with multiple trials, health data. All of it could be called reference since the numbers or values themselves are there for me to look at later and use to draw conclusions. My current set up is to link to the google doc or airtable needed in my other notes. I've never tried TableFlip, I'll check them out!

  • @Shanna said:
    I have a smattering of different data floating around. Inventories, experiments with multiple trials, health data. All of it could be called reference since the numbers or values themselves are there for me to look at later and use to draw conclusions.

    I think you have pretty much solved it. You need your data to be organized as stable references, and then your thoughts and notes in your Zettelkasten can point to those references.

    Check out the post "Manage Citations for a Zettelkasten". For example, if you choose Zotero, you could link to PDFs, spreadsheets, URLs, book ISDNs, etc. in there and have Zotero generate a citekey. Then you can put that citekey in your Zettelkasten notes and conclusions.

  • @Shanna said:
    @sfast, I have a smattering of different data floating around. Inventories, experiments with multiple trials, health data. All of it could be called reference since the numbers or values themselves are there for me to look at later and use to draw conclusions. My current set up is to link to the google doc or airtable needed in my other notes. I've never tried TableFlip, I'll check them out!

    Ah, ok. I think in that case, I'd learn to handle tables in Emacs (quite a learning curve, though) and then use time-stamps to create links between the text-archive and the table archive. Both will be accessable via a text search.

  • A triggering question, one app to rule them all?
    I tend to believe I found the answer in Notion, a very customizable app for project management, workflow etc as well as an knowledge archive. I am new to this, stumbled on the zettelkasten last week, but very thrilled. From where I stand and how I understand it, I think the Notion app can deliver also for knowlegde management.

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