Zettelkasten Forum


kokoro.app

edited October 7 in Software & Gadgets

Hi everyone,

First of all, let me thank you for the great discussions that have been posted put here over the years. I am a long-time reader, and I am now posting under a pseudonym.

I have been working on a new tool, that was inspired by Vannevar Bush's memex which in turn I believe was inspired by the zettelkasten concept. I hope it is okay to mention it here, if there is a community rule against doing so, I'll amend my post.

Having been a long time user of different tools, I got to the point where I decided to build one. For the longest time I have been looking for something that put association first, worked as fast as the mind, and allowed me to stay in flow state. Making building a second mind, playful and rewarding.

I am now a step closer to my perfect companion. If anyone is interested, I have added the link below. At this point I am slowly letting on the first users, and hoping to gather as much feedback as possible. The explore link on the page leads you to a live demo you can play with.

I haven't yet posted about Kokoro anywhere on the Internet, and hope to find a welcoming community here. Please feel free to ask any questions, or share any feedback.

Thank you,

kokoro.app

Post edited by sfast on

Comments

  • Regarding the design and branding; since I read japanese, and kokoro means heart, the first thing I thought of your app is that it was a Tinder-like app. Using the word kokoro in every sentence of your website makes it look unprofessional and irritating. Also, the logo is just a plain generic font for 心

  • Thank you for your feedback, it is much appreciated.

    The reason the name Kokoro is chosen is for its specific meaning in Japanese. Combining the essence of heart, spirit, soul and mind.

    It is a reference to the Japanese language where these concepts can't be separated but are seen as one. I hope it gives some clarification.

    Regarding the logo, yes, it's the Kokoro kanji using the Noto Serif font for Japanese. Simplicity and less is more, are key design principals behind Kokoro. So I found it fitting to not over engineer the logo. However, I understand that taste differs.

    For non Japanese speakers: https://qz.com/946438/kokoro-a-japanese-word-connecting-mind-body-and-spirit-is-also-driving-scientific-discovery/

  • @kokoro Why the pseudonym? Also, it would nice to have a little more background about the use and intent for the site. Things are a bit too unknown to sign up for a login and access for me. Why all the mystery?

  • For the longest time I have been looking for something that put association first

    @kokoro can you expand upon what you mean by this?

    I'm curious what are the two different areas on the right hand side? Highlighted with the red box and blue box.

    Interesting overall, how close to do you feel you are to a finished state for your own satisfaction?

  • edited October 7

    @MikeBraddock That's a very fair question. The pseudonym is because I am the founder of a company to which my identity is closely linked. I would like to have the focus right now on the experience of Kokoro. People close to me encouraged me to share it. Happy to disclose who I am to someone in the community, so they can verify my reputation here.

    Regarding the intent, I am in a privileged position that I have the resources to continuing building Kokoro into a tool that evolves, improves, and stays around. David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH)'s philosophy about building technology products at Basecamp has been a big inspiration for me. I would like Kokoro to become a companion to people's minds, like other tools are today. What drove me to build it, was a pure interest in trying to strive for the perfect tool.

    @Nick great question!

    Regarding the difference between the red box and blue box. The red box are incoming references from other items. When you expand those links you'll see the content that surrounds your link ([[]]). This is either all the text in paragraph you placed it, or it can include more by creating a Kokoro Block (using Cmd/Ctrl - H)

    The blue box is the items you have linked to within your current item.

    Why the difference, instead of a bi-directional link, think of Kokoro as a directed graph, each item has incoming links (with their associated text) and outgoing links.

    For the longest time I have been looking for something that put association first

    For instance while consuming a good article, I find myself building relationships between the sentences I just read, and previous ideas, concepts and other content consumed. It is these relationships (associations) that end up being most meaningful in my opinion, you build a graph of source material, ideas etc. Since memory is fickle, having a digital copy, becomes like a companion to the mind. By copy pasting an article into Kokoro and making these connections as I go along, I find myself exploring a graph of previous material and thoughts, while generating new ones. This is why you can insert Kokoro blocks in-line in any new item.

    There are other tools that aim to enable this but I haven't been able to find one that makes it feel like you're having a conversation with it.

    Interesting overall, how close to do you feel you are to a finished state for your own satisfaction?

    This is just the beginning, this is why this is my first public post on the Internet about it.

    That being said, early on I took technical decisions that put stability, speed, and scalability first. Coming from a background of building reliable technology products, this was key. For those here like @ctietze who are software engineers by background, you'll enjoy knowing that Kokoro is built entirely on Cloudflare Workers, enabling extremely fast response times by serving the application at the edge.

    Today Kokoro is in private beta to gather feedback, find any edge cases/bugs that were missed, but overall is already stable enough to use for any early-adopter.

  • @kokoro Thank you for the context, very helpful. No need to jump through hoops. Those were enough details for me.

    The more time I spend with the demo the more interesting this becomes, which is an idea/intent behind putting the associations first?

    I see why you were encouraged to share. The boundaries of making notes have really expanded within this past year.

    Zettelkasten.de kind of lumbered along for a while and then triggered a Big Zettelkasten Bang! Quite fitting you shared it here, in my opinion.

  • @MikeBraddock thank you for the kind words.

    Zettelkasten.de kind of lumbered along for a while and then triggered a Big Zettelkasten Bang! Quite fitting you shared it here, in my opinion.

    The quality of discussion on this forum taught me a lot, even before I started thinking about building Kokoro. I felt that if I could get the interest of people who are also deeply passionate about this topic, it would deliver highly critical feedback, forcing me to explain my thinking and improve.

    And wow has it done so! I have received incredible emails from forum members who have signed up to Kokoro in the last 36 hours. It has given me a strong boost of enthusiasm. Thank you!

    The more time I spend with the demo the more interesting this becomes, which is an idea/intent behind putting the associations first?

    Let me start by quoting the answer I wrote above for @Nick

    For instance while consuming a good article, I find myself building relationships between the sentences I just read, and previous ideas, concepts and other content consumed. It is these relationships (associations) that end up being most meaningful in my opinion, you build a graph of source material, ideas etc. Since memory is fickle, having a digital copy, becomes like a companion to the mind. By copy pasting an article into Kokoro and making these connections as I go along, I find myself exploring a graph of previous material and thoughts, while generating new ones. This is why you can insert Kokoro blocks in-line in any new item.

    There are other tools that aim to enable this but I haven't been able to find one that makes it feel like you're having a conversation with it.

    And bring in a quote from one of the members of this forum:

    In opposition, Luhmann constructed his Zettelkasten being able to "converse" with it (he called it his "co-author"). The entry of Zettel was the work-load generating part in Luhmann's system because he had to find and decide on the precursor Zettel for a given entry or start a new conversation. The consecutive associations between the new entered Zettel and the already existing ones generated a "flow" of emerging themes and contexts. Luhmann conversed with his alter ego (mostly his past reading and thinking ego) through this kind of "cognitive-digestive" generation of contexts.

    In my humble opinion, a tool needs to be a seamless extension of the mind that gives super powers to a cognitive pattern. We already think in associations, we can't help ourselves that with every few words we read or write, we associate it to past ideas, either others or our own. An example is how we interact with search engines as we try to find back a piece of content we've read, but only have a blurry memory of it. That blurry memory is usually some form of a semantic representation (if anyone here comes from a machine learning background, think of how language models are represented in multi dimensional vector space). What I find fascinating and it's where I believe the Zettelkasten method strives, is that it encodes these associations. As Luhmann pointed out, it is not the entries into your system but the interactions with it that make a great companion to your mind, a "co-author" so to speak.

    Kokoro tries to remove all barriers for this by having the goal to be as fast as your mind. Speed is central to its design, and early technical choices.

    At this point it's important to acknowledge, Kokoro is by far not the first tool for connected/networked thought, amongst many, most popular are Remnote and Roam Research. My main motivation to building Kokoro instead of using Roam Research, is that it felt too stressful, too messy, too much. Seeing the generation of empty daily notes, felt like a pollution of my second mind. Mixing graphs with Workflowy style nested lists/trees, while powerful, felt like an unnecessary abstraction that didn't match the way my brain works. I am impressed with what the Roam team has built, but their design principals are different. Kokoro's are:

    • No friction
    • Less is more
    • Be as fast as the mind

    I hope this answers your question @MikeBraddock

  • Please, stop saying kokoro so many times. Trust your audience. Mention it two times and is more than enough.

  • Hi @Splattack thank you for the feedback. On the homepage it's definitely a stylistic choice.

  • I love the design, especially the idea with the boxes. Requested beta and will report soon!

  • Thank you very much @amunicapunica. I am excited to hear what your experience with the beta has been like.

  • The experience seems nice but:

    • No markdown
    • No mathjax (or any kind of math)
    • No easy image?
    • I'm not sure how I could easily import my existing library (and export it afterward to mathjax)
  • Hi @tantrig, this is very valuable feedback.

    Kokoro will soon support import and export, likely in the markdown format. However, the editor itself will focus on using keyboard shortcuts instead of markdown.

    Mathjax should be easy to integrate, if I see more people asking for it, I will be sure to do so sooner rather than later.

  • edited October 15

    Saw this posted on outlinersoftware.com and played with the demo just now. This is the one note taking app out there that comes closest to satisfying all of my personal desiderata. Aside from the wiki and back linking features, I really appreciate the fact that (1) it has a rich text WYSIWYG editor (2) it is NOT built out of an outliner (3) it has a web version that is already highly usable in the mobile browser (4) the autocompletion defaults to substring search (which is a personal must for me, the lack of which has been a deal breaker with so many apps)

    I have used Roam extensively (I believe I was one of the first people to have written a enthusiastic public review of the website after it debuted last year). Over time however, the lack of rich text capabilities and the extremely subpar mobile experience made it increasingly clear that it's not for me personally. As someone who mostly uses his notes as a place to THINK issues out, I find the ability to QUICKLY bold, italicize, and especially underline, and increasingly to apply color, to be absolutely essential, because a fresh train of thought doesn't wait for you -- the more time you spent adjusting the markdown syntax, the less time you are left to CAPTURE a fresh train of thought before it fades away. I've come to realize that what I want is something like an ordinary rich text editing environment - think Evernote or Google Doc or Word - but with roam like features, and that I'm not willing to sacrifice the rich text capabilities for the interlinking capabilities.

    (There is also the very personal factor that I find it easier to concentrate on thinking when lying down at 45 degrees angle (perhaps because sitting inevitably means some mild back pain, and pain is not conducive to concentration), which necessitates the use of a mobile phone (the fact that you can hold it really close to your face also helps I find). So the mobile-unfriendliness of Roam is a big problem for me)

    Now I've mostly switched to an arrangement where I write everything in .docx files in Google Drive, which can be DIRECTLY edited in Google Doc, so that all the changes you make on e.g. mobile is reflected in real time in the .docx file on your hard-drive via backup and sync (it's a truly fantastic feature addition and a real game changer but I find many people are not aware of it.). Of course no Roam like features in this arrangement, but I have had some luck with running PowerGrep on my .docx files to construct something like a concordance of keywords I'm interested in tracking. It's certainly not frictionless, though. … Which is why I'm still on the lookout for an arrangement which allows me to write directly in rich text but also offers interlinking features. There are surprisingly few offerings meeting these conditions. Dropbox paper is rich text, and you can interlink using inline hashtags, but there is no autocomplete for the tags (why?!). Relanote comes close but seems very buggy and crash prone … Which is why I'm quite excited about this new app. The only one suggestion I have is perhaps in the mobile web browser version, move or offer the option to move the formatting toolbar from the top to the bottom of viewport, so that it sits directly on top of the mobile keyboard, and is easier to reach with the hand? It's certainly not a big issue.

    Edit: Okay. I see I was mostly focusing on seeing if it meets my own desiderata but missed one important innovation, the Kororo block. Need to play more with the app later to find out for sure, but if it's what I think it is, it's yet another huge plus over Roam, which is by design inhospitable to multiline content, so that if you wish to turn an argument that takes multiple lines into an "entity", you need either to give it a name by creating its own page (more cluttering), or use shift+enter (ugh), or nesting it all under a bullet point, which can quickly look messy when you do this a lot. I've ALWAYS wanted the ability to select an arbitrary chunk of text and turning it into its own ANONYMOUS entity so that it can appear in multiple places…

    Post edited by kwoyeu on
  • I also just saw this posted on outlinersoftware.com (which I am enjoying following very much) and played with the demo just now, as well as submitted an access request.

    I have a lifetime worth of ideas, which have been bouncing around in my head for a very long time. I feel a need to find some kind of tool to help me capture and organize all of the interesting things that are floating around on the internet, just tempting me to do something with them.

    I was in collage back when the first personal computers were being built in garages around the world. I taught myself to build my first personal computer, and program it in assembly language. Back then, 1K of battery backed RAM (the whole computer was battery powered) was a lot of memory, at least for me. My input device was a hexadecimal keypad, and the output was two nibbles of hexadecimal LED digits.

    Since then, machines have gotten increasingly more powerful, and faster with lots of memory and communication abilities. I just saw a 16 TB external hard drive with USB 3.0 interface on sale for Prime Day. This laptop, which I'm typing on has 32 GB battery backed RAM (the whole computer is battery powered).

    Anyway, with all the processing power (6 cores/12 processing paths in this laptop) and storage capacity available, it seems quite silly to me that it just sits around, waiting while I click around with a mouse and type out words, one character at a time, on this QWERTY keyboard.

    I am not sure that I really follow all that you are trying to do with Kokoro, but I'm very interested to see how your project progresses. I really need something better than I've been able to find to date. I've seen glimmers of hope in various projects, but like you have expressed, I've not found what I'm looking for yet.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what you create.

    Thanks for sharing.

    David Garner

  • @kokoro I vote for some math equation capability, as well.

    I'm (slowly) trying out Kokoro, but I don't really get what I am supposed to do. So far I have:

    1. Created a couple of my own "notes".
    2. Created a link and a block in one of my notes, but I don't see how to access the link or block from another note. (I don't see a context bar to the right on my own pages, even if they have a link on them).
    3. If I use the double square brackets, I can select the title of any other note, but that is it. The links and blocks don't show up in the list.

    Also, what does Tx mean in the format bar? It might be useful to have some drop-down hints when you hover on the format bar items.

  • @GeoEng51 Tx means undo the special formatting of text and restore it as just plain old ordinary text, no WISIWIG formatting. At least that's my description of it.

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