Why I like Obsidian

obsidian
A tool that helps me manage pretty much everything
Author
Published

January 17, 2024

The start of my Obsidian journey

21 January 2021, that’s the date I created in my first note in my Obsidian vault. Back then, it was just an experiment in my ongoing quest to find the perfect note-taking tool. Evernote, Roam Research, and even the good ol’ pen and paper took their turns on my desk. But ever since I started using Obsidian, I never used another tool again. Since that day, Obsidian has been my constant companion through learning adventures, career changes, study sessions, and moments of personal reflection. What started as a simple app transformed into an indispensable tool, the backstage manager of my life, keeping everything in check.

Obsidian’s Features

What really makes Obsidian unique? I think it boils down to 3 features:

1. Obsidian allows structure to grow organically

Most note-taking tools require you to decide upon the structure of your note before you record the note. For example, say I am taking notes while going through one of deeplearning.ai’s excellent Generative AI LLM courses, before writing down my notes, I might have to decide on my folder structure.

Perhaps I should structure my notes by their topic

├── Instruction Fine Tuning
│   ├── Single Task
│   └── Multi Task
├── Parameter Efficient Fine Tuning (PEFT)
├── Low Rank Adaption of LLMs (LoRA)
├── Model Evaluation Metrics
    └── LLM benchmarks

Or perhaps I should structure my notes based by date so I can track my learning progress over time

├── 2024-01-01
├── 2024-01-02
│   └── Instruction Fine Tuning
├── 2024-01-03
│   └── Parameter Efficient Fine Tuning (PEFT)
├── 2024-01-04
│   └── Low Rank Adaption of LLMs (LoRA)
└── 2024-01-05

Either way could be valid, depending on how I plan to revise and reorganise my notes in the future. But having to decide upon a structure upfront before I get the chance to start recording my notes never feels good.

3. Obsidian’s choice to work with plain text files make it future-proof

Lastly, my favourite feature of Obsidian is that by deafault, it chooses to work with plain text files. This simple decision means that Obsidian notes:

  • Can be used offline
  • Can be editted with any text editor
  • Can be viewed with a variety of text readers
  • Can be easily synced on iCloud, Dropbox or using git
  • Is yours, forever!

Obsidian’s CEO Steph Ango wrote a dedicated blog post on this philosophy that went deeper into this philosophy. He shared that all software is ephemeral and Obsidian wants to give people ownership over their own data, which is an approach that builds trust for its users.

Edit: Hackernews discussion thread

Appendix

─ Session info ───────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────
 setting  value
 version  R version 4.3.2 (2023-10-31)
 os       macOS Sonoma 14.1.2
 system   x86_64, darwin20
 ui       X11
 language (EN)
 collate  en_US.UTF-8
 ctype    en_US.UTF-8
 tz       Asia/Singapore
 date     2024-01-17
 pandoc   3.1.10 @ /usr/local/bin/ (via rmarkdown)
 quarto   1.3.450

─ Packages ───────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────
 package     * version date (UTC) lib source
 sessioninfo * 1.2.2   2021-12-06 [1] CRAN (R 4.3.0)

 [1] /Users/ddanieltan/Code/ddanieltan.com/renv/library/R-4.3/x86_64-apple-darwin20
 [2] /Users/ddanieltan/Library/Caches/org.R-project.R/R/renv/sandbox/R-4.3/x86_64-apple-darwin20/84ba8b13

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────
There are 2 ways of spreading light. Be the candle or the mirror that reflects it – Edith Wharton

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Citation

BibTeX citation:
@online{tan2024,
  author = {Tan, Daniel},
  title = {Why {I} Like {Obsidian}},
  date = {2024-01-17},
  url = {https://www.ddanieltan.com/posts/obsidian},
  langid = {en}
}
For attribution, please cite this work as:
Tan, Daniel. 2024. “Why I Like Obsidian.” January 17, 2024. https://www.ddanieltan.com/posts/obsidian.