Keeping daily logs in digital form

Keeping sketchbooks

In 2009, in a fit of frenzy, I decided I was going to draw so well that my notebooks would look like Da Vinci's. While I fell quite short of that goal, I established a long-lasting sketchbook habit, and I now have close to a hundred sketchbooks filled with notes and images, and diagrams. I am purposefully messy, because I use the sketchbook as a clipboard for the mind, and I need it to be quickly available.

However, I find that I almost never go back to previous sketchbooks for productive use later on. It is almost impossible to find things, and despite having numbered them, having written indexes on their cover, having grouped them thematically, nothing really stuck.

It is only when I started keeping a hefty amount of notes in obsidian that reuse actually started to happen. It showed me how much I had been missing this whole time.

All those minute thoughts that I have throughout the day where I think “oh that's cool, but I'll surely think about it again when the time comes?” These are the moments when I need to write things down in a way that the information will be easily retrievable when the right time comes. The day when you want to reference all your thoughts about cleaning up CSVs for a blog post, I won't have time to scour thousands of pages of messy notes. I want to search “CSV”, “clean up” and “data engineering” and get going.

Daily logs in obsidian

My obsidian notes are messy as ever. I keep a daily log in which I literally just freewrite and ramble, but that freewriting and rambling is augmented by cross-references to existing wiki entries, zettelkasten notes, literature notes, and furthermore searchable with standard text-retrieval methods.

Having digital daily logs means that I can quickly find these rambling thoughts later on. It also means that they can be quickly refactored into much more structured information. I can select a paragraph in a daily log, move it to a new note and create a wiki entry. Finally, it means that I can rework digital entries over time. While I try not to edit past daily logs, I can easily copy (or transclude) sections from a previous daily log and add my new thoughts to it in the current entry.

I haven't been writing so much in my obsidian vault in the last couple of weeks, but have been mining it for new articles. Seeing how much value I get out of long-passed rambles from the summer reminds me that I need get back to centralizing my notes digitally.