The purpose of recording and organising information is so that it can be used again. The value of recorded information is directly proportional to the ease with which it can be re-used.
This morning I wanted to make a note about my Kobo eReader. I didn’t yet have a Denote note about it so I started a new one in Emacs and started typing. It occurred to me that maybe I’d already written about it. Of course I had. This happens a lot.
My dilemma is that I very much prefer writing and managing notes in Emacs, but to actually find, read, and reuse them, TiddlyWiki works better for me most of the time. (I once tried running TiddlyWiki via Node.js and editing individual tiddler files in Emacs, but that was awkward and ended up not worth the extra effort.)
Longevity is critical when it comes to my notes, so what about the future-proofness of plain text? TiddlyWiki is nothing more than a fancy, self-contained HTML document. One could argue, I suppose, that HTML is plain text, but that’s a stretch. One could also argue that Org-mode documents aren’t really just plain text either. Not if you’re doing anything remotely clever. They’re just easier to read when viewed as plain text than HTML1.
It’s been surprising and confusing to me that I so often prefer making a quick note, linking it, finding and reading it later in TiddlyWiki than in Emacs. All of my notes are in one HTML document that I can simply double click, browse, and search right there in my web browser.
It’s the “ease with which it can be re-used” part that keeps me coming back to TiddlyWiki.
- This may also be a bit of a stretch