Sharing linked thinking on the web

Published Oct 16, 2020

# Discourse conversation

The below is the inspiration for a conversation on Obsidian’s forum, found here: https://forum.obsidian.md/t/sharing-linked-thinking-on-the-web-methods-for-helping-readers-follow-along/7152

Publishing your thoughts on services like Obsidian Publish affords new kinds of opportunities for sharing linked thinking on the web. It seems to be easier (or at least more intuitive to do) than publishing conventional articles. This kind of writing also facilitates the accretion of knowledge in a way that breaking thoughts down into standalone articles seems to discourage.

Yet, there are some challenges. These ideas all work really well in terms of input, but I don’t think it’s so straightforward when it comes to output. Readers typically expect some method of easily keeping up with your contributions. Perhaps we need a paradigm shift from conventional publishing models to linked-thinking publishing, but until that happens, I think most readerships will be confused when they try to follow a writer along on a knowledge base.

That is, unless the writer provides some kind of help.

Far as I can tell, authors of linked thinking sites can do a couple of things to help readers follow progress. Here’s what I’ve come up with. (These options aren’t necessarily exclusive of one another—you can probably use multiple.)

Updating an Index page. One way to emulate “blogging” via linked thinking sites might be to keep an Index page. Every time you post a new item, link it there, perhaps with a date or some other kind of ordered identifier. That index becomes your homepage. Readers can check in to see when things are new.

Hybrid Blog–linked thinking site hybrid. Publish a linked-thinking site. Maintain a blog within the site, perhaps by using a Blot-like service to watch a specific folder for new blog posts.

Posting a changelog. Perhaps using a blog–linked thinking site hybrid or simply with “Changelog” pages in the knowledge base, track and annotate the changes you’re making in a specific report and share those reports as often as is appropriate.

Externalize the update mechanism. Don’t provide readers with help tracking changes in-site. Push updates via other forms of social media—tweet out “Just added a new section to my page on abductive reasoning!” (or trumpet it on Mastodon or whatever) instead.

Embed RSS functionality. I don’t think this is easy, but technically savvy folks may be able to set up an RSS service such that new (or modified) pages get pushed out via RSS. (Perhaps this is a good feature request for Obsidian Publish..?)

What are folks doing to help readers follow changes in this newish format? What have you seen? What do you think is the best model?