We had a different but brilliant type of guest on the podcast recently – Danny Hatcher. If you aren’t aware, Danny is an educational scientist, Obsidian Expert, podcaster, and popular YouTuber.
Similar to Tom Solid, Danny Hatcher comes from a research background, and both have the desire to share their insights and experiences. So many ‘experts’ on YouTube claim ‘facts‘, but they never seem to share the evidence or the sources they acquired to back their opinion! Unlike most YouTubers, Danny goes the extra mile! His videos are always backed by extensive research, critical analysis, relevant context, and adequate experience. Plus his ‘working notes‘ are available to all in the public domain for you to refer to!
In this chat Tom and Danny discuss Obsidian. Why he switched from Notion, and the revelations that happen when you resurface information that you’ve completely forgotten about! This note-taking method works like a charm if you use it as your Single Source of Truth. So, whether you are a researcher, academic, or someone that needs to reference or remember something you have to read or watch this!
There are some Solid gems to be uncovered!
Hit play to listen to the Podcast! Take it all in – digest the full blog post below!
Who is Danny Hatcher and Why Obsidian
As an educational scientist and Obsidian expert, Danny wants to help learners (himself included) become aware of the multitude of options and choices we have when it comes to education and learning. He spends most of his days, researching, learning, and putting it into practice. Inviting everyone to be part of the conversation.
He started using Obsidian over a year ago, prior to that he was an avid Notion user for 3 years, p. Primarily for his undergraduate studies. The platform served the purpose however when Danny started to put his notes together to create thoughts, he found himself going through databases and Notion became more of a hassle than help. So he gave Obsidian a go.
At first, he was not impressed with the interface, the graph, code, and formatting, he says “it looked disgusting”. However, Danny persevered and after about two to three days, realized backlinks were incredibly helpful for his research needs. More helpful than the UI/UX was ‘disgusting’. Using the platform he is able to reference and resurface his source notes with incredible ease and has been using Obsidian ever since.
Solving the Duplicated Data Dilemma
A key principle of the ICOR® Framework is about creating your own Single Source of Truth – a designated place for certain information. A key reason for doing this is to avoid the consequences of duplicated data.
The tricky part can be, what if we need the information in different places? And, if we choose to duplicate how do we manage updates?
Danny shares with us a different approach. A designated place for your data is crucial, yes, but instead of completely duplicating the data – when we need to use the information to distill or reframe something for another purpose – we can rather create numerous adaptations that always reference the main source.
This way the original content remains the main source and in the same place.
Your Single Source of Truth for your notes
When discussing the importance of having a Single Source of Truth (SSOT) in the Paperless Movement®, a common misunderstanding is that it means we need just one overall tool. Your SSOT is the one place where you find a defined type of information, so you are very likely to have many SSOTs for different purposes. For instance, one for your notes, and one place you keep your scanned invoices. Our thoughts and recommendations are to take this process slow and define one aspect of your workflow at a time.
Digital Notes in Obsidian
When it comes to our notes, our intentions with what we want to gain from the note are going to determine how and where we should take said note. For day-to-day working practices, on the whole, we’re generally collecting data. As a business person, most of the time, we’re not looking to learn new skills but rather more likely continuously acquiring data.
There is a difference in intention compared to someone who is learning a new skill and needs their notes as assistance to their learning. When we know the purpose of our note the destination will become apparent. In Danny’s case, most of the data that he takes for his business is on YouTube, this is his Single Source of Truth for these particular relevant notes, and it stays on YouTube as he doesn’t need the data anywhere else.
Finding your notes in Obsidian
How we retrieve our information is a key part of an effective knowledge database. When it comes to our knowledge systems, the enemy to be aware of is friction. Either when adding new information or when we want to retrieve the information later on. For some, it may be much faster to simply Google it again, rather than going into our own personal knowledge management system.
No doubt, the potential of AI would understand far much more about what we are looking for and will be a hot contender (or perhaps take over). But, for now, Tom is keen to find out how Danny’s current process works, does he use ‘search’, tags, or folders? It can be a contentious topic! Tom asks Danny, does he use Obsidian first, and if he doesn’t find what he is looking for, resort to a search engine instead?
I have not come across a time where it takes me longer than 10 seconds to find what it is that I’m looking for inside of Obsidian.Danny Hatcher
Danny believes searching and retrieving within Obsidian is powerful, it’s his mainstay. Even if he is looking for specific terms, he does not need to know exactly what the note is called. He can rely on the tool to easily find and search for what he needs.
Three different ways to search for information in Obsidian
If you’re in the backlinks panel, you could use any of these search options.
- Global search: This is the search core plugin.
- Quick Switcher: Searches just the pages, and is also a core plugin that you can add and remove.
- Page Search: All of these search options can be used within siloed information.
Does Obsidian work well for Teams?
As Danny explains, he works mostly by himself but does collaborate with others too. For his personal toolkit, Obsidian is the only tool for his knowledge management, for resource management, he uses Zotero. This contains everything that he consumes online, such as blogs and articles, and storing PDF files. For his task and action manager, and scheduling tool he uses Morgen.
As you can imagine it all changes when it comes to working with others. How does Danny envision his toolkit working with more team members? When it comes to incorporating new people and working as a team, Danny says he would continue to use Obsidian, due to how effective Obsidian Sync is and its collaboration features.
Danny views Obsidian as a straightforward platform, at its core, he says it’s simply a word processor, you can use it just like Microsoft Word, it’s not until you start adding core plugins, and community plugins, that the complexity starts.
A cloud-based service that lets you store your notes on Obsidian’s servers and synchronize them across your devices. So when Danny wants to add a note, he can easily do so and it syncs to his co-worker’s file. Plus, Obsidian Sync comes with one year of version history, making it a breeze to revert to an earlier version if anything goes wrong.
This lets you effortlessly publish your notes online helping you build your own knowledge kingdom. Which Danny has done. His notes are public, so you can literally see the majority of his notes and you can collaborate on them too. He believes published collaboration, similar to sync collaboration, could be very useful for all sorts of teamwork.
Using Obsidian to Evolve Your Ideas
The more we re-write a note or a piece of information, we distill the original. This process can help us to look at the original data in a different way, since creating the original we’ve gained more experience and naturally a new perspective can arise.
However, we could be in danger of destroying the initial thought that we had when we took the note in the first place!
Danny explains when he’s evolving an idea within Obsidian he uses blocks rather than pages, he will add or make changes to the sentence, or mold it in a way that he can still keeps his original line of thinking, train of thought, or even a point of view he may disagree with. Whatever it is, he keeps it in the block. This synthesis and critique like appraoch, is what scientists and internet academics do, and it’s something he encourages us Obsidian users to do as well. This way users don’t lose the old or original idea. It simply evolves and so does the block so that it makes even more sense.
If you have been inspired to delve deeper into Obsidian and get an understanding of a similar framework, Danny’s latest course shows you how he creates his personal structure. He built the course so you have the option to learn and explore the fundamentals of Obsidian, as well as being able to remold and reshape it into something that works for you. This is perfect as we all know we all work differently.
Danny shares, that we don’t have to be academics or researchers to gain the value of Obsidian – it’s an incredibly powerful structure for organizing, resurfacing, and evolving ideas.