Linear Tools Enforce Linear Thinking

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I've been working a lot within Obsidian as of late, and recently I've been hitting the limits of what feels like the fundamental design limitation of a text based tool for thought.

Mainly, linear tools for note taking enforce linear thinking, and linear thinking leads to blocking thinking.

Imagine if you computer could only ever do a single task at any moment in time, so instead of playing music in the background and running a web browser and an instant messaging application all at once, it could only run one of those actively at once. You'd hate it!

Linear tools like writing notes (specifically via keyboard input) are effectively doing the same thing to your brain. You're forcing yourself to only do one thing at a time. This can work well for many folks, helping them to avoid distractions, however I've found that my brain tends to wander, I'll jump from one thing to another and keep 5-, 10-, 25- or more things all floating around in my head at once.

Now, I could go and migrate over to a tool like Figma or some other visual canvas-like editor, however I don't necessarily think that this issue is a either-or kind of problem. There will be times that I can really benefit from the linear model, and other times where I can really benefit from the infinite 2D canvas of a visual editor.

I don't know if I have a universal realization at the end of this rant of a blog post, however I think of this more like a self realization that a "single mode" type of tool for thought isn't a tool that can allow me to fully delve into.


Tags:

Rant,
Tools for Thought