Curating my Ultimate Knowledge Management Setup
Last updated on 29 March 2021
I loved bookmarking things. But I was very lenient with it. Anything and everything that I found remotely useful, went into my bookmarks. In lack of a proper knowledge management setup, I wasn't actively consuming any information I came across. And, as you can imagine, I now have hundreds of bookmarks.
Bookmarks work, but they're not suited for everything.
Fortunately, I was introduced to the concept of note-taking recently, thanks to the blogging for devs community 😊. Here's my attempt to build a functional Knowledge Management System.
Let's take a look 👇
What's wrong with Bookmarks?
Bookmarks are not necessarily bad but they are not meant for everything. Hardly anything comes with one size fits all anyways. There are a few things that I find lacking in bookmarks:
- Information is not easily accessible.
- Not super easy to move things around and access outside web browser.
- Interlinking of information (and folders are not that helpful).
This is enough for me to procrastinate. With that said, I am not planning to completely rule out bookmarks. I feel they have their own place because some things are more suited for a bookmark.
To draw a line for what goes in my bookmark from now on, I ask myself two questions before bookmarking anything:
- Is it a tool (eg. analytics dashboard, web gradients, tech interview guide, etc.)?
- Do I need it temporarily (eg. spec doc)?
If the answer is yes to either one of these, I bookmark it. The reason simply is, anything that comes under the above two doesn't fit into a knowledge management system and I need quick access to it.
Expectations from my Knowledge Management Setup
- 🔍 Notes should be easily accessible
- 🧠 Ability to do spaced-repetitions
- 📓 Have full access to my notes even when I'm offline
- 🧵 Ability to interlink notes
These are my expectations, feel free to list down yours.
Let's take a look at tools required for achieving this 👇
What tools are required?
While creating your own knowledge management system, it is important to observe what sources do you consume information from. This varies for everyone so you should list down your top three sources of information intake. For me, the major ones are:
- 📃 Blogs
- 🐦 Tweets
- 🎵 (Audio) books
Once you have listed it down, now you can experiment with different tools to see what fits you the best. Here are the tools that I've selected based on my preferences:
My Read-it-Later Solution - $2.99 Monthly
The best thing about any read-it-later tool is, I can just save anything I come across and read it later. Trust me, there’s a different sense of calm in being able to do that.
To make this even better,
- I can highlight and add comments in Instapaper.
- Full-text search makes things easily accessible.
- The reading experience is clean.
Audiobook/Summary App - $41 Annually
Blinkist allows me to take a look at the gist of the book. Since I've left some books halfway through, it helps me shortlist which (physical) books to get next.
- I can listen to the summary aka "blinks" and/or I can read them.
- I can highlight the blinks and they get synced to my Evernote.
- From Evernote, the highlights go to an Instapaper folder using IFTTT.
My Information Warehouse - Free
I use Evernote for information backup. I don’t actively maintain things in my Evernote. It just acts as a source service for the IFTTT applet that syncs my Blinkist highlights to Readwise.
You can also use Google Drive for backup. I chose Evernote because it is generally better for maintaining notes.
My Information Aggregator - $7.99 Monthly
I included Readwise in my knowledge management setup mainly because of two reasons:
It has good number of options for import and export. This makes it perfect for information aggregation because I can collect things from various sources and export them (as markdown) to my single source of truth aka Obsidian. If you're using Roam Research, it will automatically sync your highlights so there's zero manual effort required.
It has a feature called "Mastery" which includes active recall and spaced repetition techniques. You can configure it to receive emails with a set frequency.
Single source of truth - Free
I'm currently trying to implement Zettelkasten in Obsidian. It is a great free tool for note-taking and especially interlinking of notes.
All the highlights from my information aggregator (Readwise) come here. But, the process is not completely automatic as of now, it looks something like this:
- I export all the new highlights from Readwise as markdown.
- They get downloaded as zip in my "Obsidian vault" directory.
- I unzip it and delete the zip file.
This doesn't look much, but it'd be ideal if I can automate this step as well.
I like Obsidian because it helps me achieve nearly everything that I expected:
- Notes are just plain markdown files so I have full access even if I'm offline and I can sync those to any cloud service for easy access.
- I can interlink notes using backlinks and I can also add tags for a broad filter. It also has a graph view of sorts that helps you visualize your notes.
- I can search for anything from my notes.
Putting it all together...
As I said earlier, Readwise has a bunch of options for import and export. Kindle is one of them. You can connect your Kindle to Readwise and they'll always be in sync.
I don't have a Kindle currently but I'm planning to get one as I'm moving to a different place and its not convenient to transfer physical books. Its quite satisfying to know that my system can easily incorporate that as well.
With this out of the way, the only thing left is having a dedicated schedule to go through your read-it-later app and review the stuff you've saved. Without this, a knowledge management setup is as good as a good ol' bookmark ;)
And that's it. Let me know how your knowledge management setup looks like. Which tools do you use? I would love to know in the comments 😊