Table of Contents
I have learned a lot during the past year, about technology and about myself, about how I function and work. This has resulted in changes to my workflow.
Firstly, my love of Markdown has driven a lot of these changes, so I’ll start there.
Over the past year, I’ve dabbled in numerous methods, apps and systems to find what works for me. I have come to prioritise a few things in my journey:
I’ve noticed a few things in my time which have made me weary of platforms where the data is locked into them.
Companies can get bought out, go bust, change to subscription models, or make other decisions which may make me want to leave. But if there is vendor lock-in, walking away is more difficult.
How easy it is to migrate data depends on the platform, and may only play nice with a select few other platforms. I remember the issues I had with extracting Day One data into Joplin, needing Bear to act as a middle man to make it work. By having data that isn’t locked in to a particular vendor, I can more easily pick and choose where I want my data to reside, without much fuss when changing my mind.
Markdown is phenomenal in how its .md files can not only be basically read by a wide range of programmes, but how these programmes can drastically change how these files look and function within the confines of that programme. For example, a .md file can be rendered into a website via Jekyll or Hugo, used as part of Personal Knowledge Management software like Obsidian or Logseq, or simply function as a written document in Typora or iA Writer. These files can be taken anywhere, and used in a variety of different ways as they travel along with you.
I’m in a situation which I think is relatively unique: macOS for my personal computer, Linux on my laptop, and Android on my phone. Unfortunately, not many pieces of software span across platforms like this. In particular, thanks to the integrated use of iCloud, many macOS apps sync seamlessly with iPhones and iPads, but don’t have an Android app.
However, because of no vendor lock-in, I am able to access my .md files on different pieces of software over my three devices. For writing, Typora runs on macOS and Linux, but not on Android where I can instead use Epsilon Notes. My bookmarks are accessed via Nota on macOS, and Markor on Android.
And, again, due to no vendor lock-in, I can easily access my files via any file system.
I have had significant issues in my life with databases. I get the benefits, but I also find myself wrangling with them and can be difficult to back up.
On WordPress, the process has been tricky migrating between domains, server hosts or to restore after a bad update or security breach. However, all my posts can be easily backed up here on this Hugo running website as they’re all written in Markdown and can be readily accessed via any normal file system. Same goes for my notes, not in an inaccessible database like Evernote, but stored individually in plain sight, where they can be backed up all over the place to keep safe without much fuss or difficulty.
Markdown has a simple, but effective, language which is easy to learn and utilise, and as the .md files can be used in a variety of situations, it means I am essentially only using one language to achieve many different purposes. I am typing web posts, taking notes, organising bookmarks, and writing longform documents all in the same language. Formatting is the same, linking is the same, inserting images is the same, it’s all the same, which makes life easier and getting on with stuff faster.
I’ve already touched on how Markdown can be used to create websites, but having so many different ways to render Markdown via Static-Site Generators, as well as through documentation such as Docasurous and MkDocs, opens many doors as to how I can share my .md files with the world.
Rather than fiddle around with complicated export options or copying-and-pasting written drafts onto platforms to publish my work, I type directly into a .md file, run a command in terminal to render it all, and then just upload it. The process can be streamlined even further through the use of GitHub, if need be.
As a result of all this, I changed my mind as to how I wanted my stuff to be organised. Rather than lock my bookmarks away in Logseq, where they cannot be made easily public, I decided to redo my bookmarks into pure Markdown and have them generated into a website via MkDocs.
I decided this should become my Link Garden, a variance of a Digital Garden, featuring Dead content. As I write in my About page:
“My Link Garden is an open repository of sorts where I have bookmarked various websites across the internet I found interesting, helpful, or just wanted to make sure I didn’t lose them. They are not endorsements, just a collection of links that can be viewed publicly.”
I also migrated away from using FolderSync, instead installing Syncthing on my server and using it to sync between all my devices, meaning all my writings, websites, Obsidian and Logseq all stay perfectly in sync. It’s honestly one of the best pieces of software I use, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Speaking of Logseq…
As it is no longer needed to store my bookmarks, this other piece of amazing software has now been freed up for a use. In my drive towards Markdown and away from my data hosted elsewhere, I have reconsidered its purpose for my notes. As I previously wrote, I decided to use UpNote last time I revisited this subject.
I still do like UpNote, and recommend to people who aren’t too interested in controlling their data. It’s clean, cross-platform, feature rich, and in active development. However, now I have Logseq sitting right here unused, it seems like a perfect opportunity for me to migrate once again and use it for my notes. After all, that is the purpose of Logseq!
All in all, I have gradually migrated towards options which enable more control over my data, made them easier to access across my devices, and enable me to publish them publicly.
There are still issues I haven’t addressed yet. As mentioned in the last post about all this, tweets and toots don’t have homes, nor do Reddit posts or audiovisual content such as YouTube videos and podcasts. Readwise is still the major player for gathering highlights of eBooks, online articles, and Twitter, and I do not know of a self-hosted alternative.
However, I am overall happier with my system than I have been before. Though I know, and actually hope, things will change and improve as time goes by!