A visual thinker using text-based tools

A visual thinker using text-based tools

Yesterday I was asked something about a project I’d worked on two years ago. At that time I’d used Curio to help manage the project. I opened the Curio project and within thirty seconds of just looking at the workspace I had a handle on the project and easily found an answer to the questions I’d been asked.

Whenever I revisit something that I’d created in TheBrain or a mind map or Curio or Tinderbox, I find the spatial layout of the information to be instantly useful.

And yet I use Org mode in Emacs for nearly everything. You can probably tell that I’m having another one of my moments.

I love plain text. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that I love the idea of plain text. Nearly all the arguments for using plain text are good arguments, but that doesn’t make plain text any more useful for me.

Plain text’s usefulness depends on what it’s for. As an example, a simple log of things that happen throughout the day makes sense as plain text. It’s almost always going to be accessed via search, and text is made for searching. Journaling can be done in plain text, although it’s made better by including images.

The way text is presented can make all the difference. An example is the display of backlinks in Roam and Logseq. Those tools use a nicely-formatted display, including context. Compare it to something like org-roam, which, as powerful as it is, can’t compete visually. It’s hard to parse backlinks in org-roam just by looking at them. And that’s a problem system wide. A wall of text is less useful than a purposefully-arranged and formatted visual display of that same information.

Anyway, I launched Curio and Tinderbox and TheBrain and now I’m in big trouble.