Returning to Text

(Day 17 of 30 Days of Blogging)

I’ve been replacing the way I store personal todo lists and notes. Previously I was using Trello. Before that I used Tiddlywiki for a couple years. I used to work with a guy that swore by simply using a text file, so I started giving that a shot.

In theory this approach has some major perks:

  • It’s easy to add stuff: Just start typing.
  • Just as importantly, it’s easy to delete stuff.
  • Searching and transforming text files is a solved problem.
  • You own your data. It’s on your own hardware and is in a format that won’t be obsolete in our lifetime.

Something that may be obvious to others that I discovered only recently is that you need to be able to get to your notebook.txt quickly. It should be instantly accessible on a global keybind. It isn’t good enough to open your editor, file-open, navigate to notebook.txt, scroll down to where you were before… Once I took care of that I’m finding the text file approach much more natural.

I’m using the vimwiki plugin, but honestly I don’t use most of the “wiki” features and just use it for markdown syntax conveniences.

The only downside I occasionally feel is the lack of access on my phone. Though not so much over the last few months with the lockdowns and all. I’ve thought about self-hosting something like Etherpad that would sync on both my devices, but… meh. Sometimes low tech is best tech.