I used to be the type of chap who has one place for everything. The scissors are in That Drawer in the kitchen. It kinda worked, until I had to live with other humans that I didn’t have control of.
After years of fighting against the system of “one place for every thing” I went full in on the other direction, I think inspired by reading Algorithms to Live By, and Brad Fitzpatrick’s work with Perkeep. Since then, I have taken the opposite approach to a single source of object, and instead I put items in many places, ideally where they would be used. This is why I now have scissors all over my house, or screw drivers, etc. “All over” is going a lil far, I put them in spots where I think they will be used. This is akin to a CDN… caching a copy closer to where someone needs it.
Why am I talking about scissors?
I went through the exact same kind of transition in the virtual world. Where do I keep my data? I would try to centralize it as much as possible. E.g. Google Drive as a source of truth, and then split off for types of content that weren’t a fit (e.g. I used Asana as a central database for a long time, and 1Password for passwords, and Active Recall for learning, and Type.ai for writing, etc).l
After years of trying new systems, and migrating data, I took the other approach:
- I embrace the fact that one system won’t be perfect, for now, and especially the future
- I don’t worry about migrating data as I try new things. I jumped around with Roam, Obsidian, Logseq as an example. Once a lil more settled, I may then do some migration
- I favor products where I can get to the data (yay owning your data)
- I favor products where there are strong integrations. Instead of a central merge, I can then connect all of the things and have the data show up in all of the places
But how about finding things? Integrating into one search to rule them all is vital when you have data in various spots. I’m hopeful for products such as Needl (I need more integrations and a SDK to integrate with). My latest foray here is, importing all of my second brain into my own local Polymath with access control.
Now I can use natural language to get semantic search results, each with links that poke me to where the data is. Often it’s in multiple spots so I can choose what I want to open up to see and use that data.
There is so much opportunity for us to get to a collective, with integrations, and allows us to evolve and connect our data.