being lawyers · phd life · productivity · professional life

My Obsidian Brain

I recently wrote about building a second [legal] brain and I kind of wanted to elaborate on my use of Obsidian. I’m a HUGE fan.

I think there’s two main reasons I love this software:

  • the ability for it to replicate the natural way my (and many others) brains work; linking your ideas or notes, through the use of key words, phrases, ideas etc;
  • the fact that you can visualise your thinking and your ‘second brain’ in a very pretty way, and organically as you make more notes.

Exhibit A – a visual of my second brain.

Pretty cool, huh?!

So, compared to some people who have blogged, vlogged, about Obsidian as a second brain, this is a tiny brain haha. But, it’s still growing, and will continue to grow. I have been using Obsidian for a little while now and whilst it’s been in ‘development mode’ and I was very excited to see that they have just released the 1.0 version of the software, making it official.

The idea behind this is that every circle is a note in my obsidian vault and the lines indicate links I’ve made in those notes to other notes. In the Obsidian software, you can actually scroll in and out of these graph views and see the titles of your notes. For obvious reasons, I have made this so it doesn’t show the title, but you get the gist. I have also colour coded certain themes (which are changeable at any time you feel the need) to take my visualisation of my notes and thoughts one step further.

The benefit of using this software, in my view, is that you can put everything and anything in the vault and make connections as you go and you can visual them as they grow over time.

For the security conscious, you should know that the Obsidian vault is stored locally on your hard drive. You can access a cloud or sync version, for a small fee per month. The other benefit to having things stored locally is that it also runs really smoothly because all the data is stored on your PC and for that very reason, it can also be accessed offline.

You can embed photos and YouTube videos or whatever tickles your fancy in the program making it really accessible for anything you need, and most recently you can now create a “Canvas” which is like mindmapping.

The platform has a number of core plugins (options) for you to install and use as you need to and hundreds and hundreds of community developed plugins for different things. The community of Obsidian users and developers is quite amazing and has made the platform incredibly versatile.

The thing about this platform and finding out if it works for you is to just start. It can be a simple platform for you or you can dive right in and get very technical if you want. The files that are saved in your local drive are also in plain text (i.e. markdown); which is the most universally understood computer language. This means that, from a future proofing perspective, virtually anything could read this data if for some reason the software didn’t last. For the risk averse, this was a big deal for me.

For those that might be interested in learning more about Obsidian, here are a few YouTube videos that I found really useful in getting started and trying it out for myself when I first discovered it. I love the work of both Danny Hatcher and Nick Milo in this space – they know how to break it down for the non-computer science pros on the interwebs!!

Now, this is a very slippery slope. You have been warned. But it is truly brilliant. If you find yourself going down that rabbit hole and enjoying it thoroughly, I would encourage you to consider watching the above YouTubers specifically; they are massive Obsidian fans and have an exceptional and extensive collection of fantastic videos (including the advanced ones that even currently go over my head, but I’ll persevere!).

Let me know what you think!

Until then, happy second braining 🙂

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