Home / Notes / Unbundling Tools for Thought

Unbundling Tools for Thought

An important perspective regarding the use of linked note-taking tools like Obsidian, Roam Research, etc.


I was immediately impressed by Fernando Borretti's post, Unbundling Tools for Thought because it put into words the feeling I had been struggling to articulate for a long time. Namely, that 'tools for thought' which hyperlink and centralise your data do not provide any real benefits over seperate, specialised tools.

Ultimately, these types of tools function for most people (including myself) as a method of procrastination: instead of doing the difficult work of research, thinking and writing useful notes to cement and link this knowledge to existing concepts, we can instead focus on pretty graphs, themed environments and tidy hierarchies of notes.

The idea of this unbundling also strikes at a deeper issue faced by many in the enormous rise in digital tools, particularly in the note-taking space - these tools seem to create a need to document the minutiae of life and shift the focus from the ideas to the capture of ideas.

One tool does not need to be a journal, a to-do list, a collection of media, etc. I think tools like Obsidian are almost detrimental in their lack of scope. Practically speaking, use cases I've seen of such systems are chaotic, out of control and unfocused. What is needed is a deep reflection on what values are most important to each of us personally, and which tools best serve us in achieving them. We require best-in-class services and it seems highly unlikely that a single tool best serves this purpose for most people.