Note-taking for Teams

25 Sep 2023

I was obsessed with the nature of trust.

Really, I was obsessed with what made groups strong. That led me to trust. So I read everything about trust I could find. That’s how I came across Niklas Luhmann, a sociologist who thought of society as a system.

Then years later, I read Andy Matuschak.

It wasn’t his content that got me, but the format of how the notes on his website were structured. He mentioned something about Sonke Ahrens, so I devoured the book, ‘How to Take Smart Notes’.

I was back to Niklas Luhmann- whose prolific works were in part thanks to a note-taking system that was championed by Ahrens, Matuschak, and others.

I wanted my notes to produce works like Luhmann’s.

I wanted to take notes with groups of people that would produce purpose-fit encyclopedias.

So I looked at Zettelkasten (“slipbox”, after the physical boxes Luhmann used in his thought-capturing system) software. A lot of them were clunky. All you needed, they suggested, was a database with backlinks in each entry.

Why not use a wiki?

They were familiar, but they didn’t offer the ability to quickly cluster everything you might have recorded in a category. Then Roam came out. I joined the beta. It showed us what was possible in the space, with graphs generated for easy discovery.

But something was lacking, with Roam.

They had what I think of “a spirit of Apple”. Like there was no ownership of software. A closed system you would merely rent. So I kept looking for something else, even as I was using Roam.

I was especially looking for something with multiplayer support.

Obsidian arrived, and it was prettier. More polished. Slick. You could store notes locally. I switched to that, and it was good for a time.

But it still didn’t offer multiplayer support.

Athens Research seemed like they were headed in this direction. They never got there. Then I found Neuron, which was beautiful. Timeless. It seemed like you could do something multiplayer with it, though not conveniently. It was a nice compromise between a wiki and graph-based note-taking.

Neuron seemed better suited for something public-facing.

And Flancia started The Agora. For anyone to use any markdown collection of notes they wanted, to be linked with the other Agorans. I started seeing Logseq pop up. It was open source. It had great potential for customization. And it was easy to set it up with Agora.

It just worked for everything I wanted except multiplayer support.

So that’s why I’ve used Logseq as my primary note-capturing software.

But I’m still looking for something multiplayer-native. Something that could allow regular people to conveniently take notes that will join them in a collective brain.