Newsletter #58: Think and Learn Better Using Networked Notes

Ramses Oudt
Ramses Oudt
Newsletter #58: Think and Learn Better Using Networked Notes

Happy Friday, fellow lovers of knowledge!

Today's newsletter is all about getting better at thinking in networks using our favorite thinking tool: Logseq.

I've seen many Think Stack members switch to Logseq in the past weeks, and increasingly they come from other tools than Roam. With the amount of educational materials exploding and the number of Logseq plugins surpassing Roam, now is a good time to take a closer look at it.

If you're still on the fence about switching to Logseq because of performance issues, rest assured: the team is working hard to polish the user experience. We're also working hard to provide more ways to secure your data, like launching an encrypted sync service.

If you're using Obsidian—or any other page-based tool—and are skeptical about working with an outliner, this newsletter is for you. I don't believe it's either/or, as outliners work best for different use cases. Don't force yourself to use a single tool for the sake of using a single tool. Instead, use the tool that's best for the job. Many get started with Logseq by using it as a daily bullet journal, which I believe is the way to go.

If you're not interested in Logseq but are interested in networked/graph thinking, this newsletter will also contain useful resources. I link to an excellent talk about the concept of graph thinking and republished an atomic essay about the need of linking your notes.

Let's get started.

🕸 How to get started with networked thinking

How to Get Started With Networked Thinking and Logseq
I've just finished the accompanying article to the Logseq onboarding video that I produced earlier this year. If you want to get a better understanding of networked note-taking, outliners, and Logseq in particular, this article is for you.

If you prefer to watch videos, check out the entire onboarding event:

An Intro to Graph Thinking
Graph thinking is a thinking mode that comes natural to most of us. We tend to not just see things in the world, but also the relationships between those things. That's why so many people are drawn to networked thinking tools like Logseq, Roam, and Obsidian. But this way of thinking does not click immediately for everybody.

This video by Ryan Boyd helped me a lot to understand networked/graph thinking. In 45 minutes, Ryan (who worked at Neo4j, a graph database company) explains in a highly visual manner why graph thinking matters in our complex world and how to get started with it.

No matter what tool you end up using, this video is an excellent introduction to an increasingly important thinking skill.

How to explain graph note-taking to the uninitiated
Earlier this year I asked my Twitter followers how they think about networked note-taking and how they explain it to others. Over 40 insightful comments came in, several of which sparked further discussions.

If you've ever struggled with understanding (or explaining) what it means to take notes in a network, definitely have a look at the comments. It's a treasure trove of insights if you want to upgrade your thinking.

🎬 The easiest way to get started with Logseq

Getting Started with Logseq: The Perfect Digital Journal
What is the quickest way to abandon a powerful tool like Logseq? Trying to make it do everything.

The most successful users of Logseq are the ones starting out with simple use cases. Instead of trying to move their entire second brain to the tool, they treat it as a type of bullet journal.

Like Josh Duffney, who uses Obsidian for knowledge management and Logseq for daily journaling. He uses Logseq to track daily habits, tasks and notes in a "time-block grid". In other words: Logseq is Josh's bullet journal.

In this video, you'll see the true power of working with a block-based outliner. As organization of notes moves to the background, thinking can come to the front.

An Intro to Logseq's Interface
While we're busy at Logseq working on a proper onboarding experience, several power users have been busy educating fellow Logseq enthusiasts. Like Danzu, who is an important member of the community and is always trying to find ways to explain the basics of Logseq to beginners.

If you've never used a tool similar to Logseq (like Roam or RemNote), keep the following cheatsheet close. In one page you'll see all the basic ingredients of the Logseq sidebars and main window.

Logseq Office Hours
How will you know if Logseq is the right tool for you, and how should you get started using it? That's what I discussed in the first 15 minutes of the Logseq Office Hours I held some weeks ago.

Apart from getting started with Logseq, I also discussed queries, syncing your graph across devices, how to use flashcards, and more.

Logseq Intro Course
Hopefully by now Logseq has intrigued you enough to spend some time learning it. The best way to learn all you need to know is by going through the beginner course created by Logseq power user Dario.

If you've never used an outliner tool like Roam, this course is the best place to get started. Not only does it explain the idea of networked notes, but also how to structure your graph and resurface information using queries.

Here's the first lesson (out of 8):

🔌 The best Logseq plugins to boost your thinking

There are close to 60 plugins in the Logseq marketplace. These are my favorites that help to reduce friction in my workflows so I can focus on the ideas I'm trying to capture.

Logseq SmartBlocks
For many, Roam42 SmartBlocks is what keeps with Roam. While Logseq templates are much more powerful than Roam's native templates, sometimes you just need some more automation.

Logseq community superstar Sawhney taught himself to code just so he could create Logseq SmartBlocks. Inspired by Roam42 SmartBlocks and Notion's templates, Logseq SmartBlocks lets you create template buttons, automatically run templates, use natural language to create date links, and fetch random blocks from your graph. The project is in active development, so if you have ideas on how to improve the plugin make sure you send Sawnhey a message on Twitter.

You can install SmartBlocks from the Logseq marketplace. Click here to read more about its functionality and see it in action.

Did you know that mind maps are essentially outlines? Both mind maps and outlines have a tree-like structure, but as mind maps are visual many people prefer them over basic outlines.

The Markmap plugin lets you turn any outline in your Logseq graph into a a mind map. Best of all: you can traverse the maps using just your keyboard.

You can install Markmap from the Logseq marketplace. Click here to read more about its functionality and see it in action.

While the sidebar is invaluable to see information in new contexts, sometimes you'll want to work with several branches or pages in the main window.

The Tabs plugin takes inspiration from browser tabs. Now you can easily open several Logseq pages at once and navigate between them as easily as you would in your internet browser.

You can install Tabs from the Logseq marketplace. Click here to read more about its functionality and see it in action.

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” —Steve Jobs

Hidden in millions of note-taking systems, there are solutions to complex problems. But, few ideas get out—trapped in unconnected piles of notes. What can we do about it?

To turn our notes into insight, we need to link them.

However, most note-taking systems are hierarchical; they cut up knowledge into documents, tucked away in folders. Fine for isolated projects, difficult to connect with other materials.

The antidote to complex problems is networked thinking. By loosely organizing snippets of text and connecting them any chance you get, patterns and solutions start to emerge.

Ditch your old systems and replace them with a networked thinking tool; Logseq, Obsidian, or Roam. They make linking notes effortless and useful, showing you exactly how your notes are linked up and where clusters emerge.

Then, ditch your old way of thinking; nothing exists in a silo anymore. The atomic unit of knowledge is not a document; it’s a short note—a paragraph—with a single idea. Easy as that.

The scary thing about networked thinking is that there’s no structure to look at. Notes in folders create an illusion of value whereas a few clusters of notes may look like muck. The reverse is true. In the messiness, you’ll find the insights to solve complex problems.

Do yourself and the world a favor; link your thinking.

This atomic essay was originally published as a Twitter thread. Do you want to (re)publish your own atomic essay here? Hit reply and have over 3,000 curious minds read your words.

Join the conversation.

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