Wikilink vs folder/group structure: an analogy to the two models of networking in aviation

I want to share an idea that took shape during my Lunar New Year reading spree:

Wikilinks and folder/group structures are two available methods of managing your notes in DT, and countless other competing apps. Since the introduction of wikilinking features into DT, users on this forum have expressed their preference for one or the other, and many of them incorporate both methods in their workflows.

We manage our notes for a variety of reasons, e.g.:

  • To make it easier to find (and share) a note in the future;
  • To facilitate regular reviewing of notes;
  • To reduce stress and anxiety caused by a messy, unsorted document drawer, like the one in my office;
  • And, perhaps most importantly, to connect each one note with others.

Connections are important because we often work with more than one note at a time. Wikilinks facilitate direct, point-to-point connections between individual notes. Folder/group hierarchies and tagging systems, on the other hand, attach individual notes and other items to one or more hubs. Notes under one hub are assumed to be related in some ways.

This situation of two alternative implementations of connection is not new. Point-to-point and hub-and-spoke systems have been operating in parallel for as long as transportation exists.

The parallel is illustrated in contemporary commercial aviation: Passenger service providers, especially the domestic ones, prefer point-to-point networks, as is proven by the early end of production of the huge wide-body A380. On the other hand, cargo service providers unanimously favor hub-and spoke networks, with most cargo traffic taking place between key cities with massive distribution facilities.

It’s not hard to see why. Passengers hate waiting, so they’d rather book direct flights than navigating the hassles of transit flights. Cargoes, however, mostly don’t mind spending more time on a journey if that can be translated into lower costs of distribution.

There are notable exceptions. International passenger flights mostly take place between high-traffic hub airports, since it can be prohibitively expensive to expand airline operations in a distant foreign country. Hub-and-spoke was the norm for passenger airlines a few decades ago, before the advent of low-cost airlines. Beneath all these observations are fascinating reads of a tech-driven industry that provides many of the assumptions on which 21th century modernity is built.

Returning to the topic of note-taking. When you navigate through a web of notes, do you feel like a passenger or a cargo manager? Do you prefer an intuitive system that can be difficult to maintain, or a modular system facilitating easy maintenance, at the cost of efficiency? For me, it’s definitely the former, thus my preference for Logseq, which basically builds upon point-to-point connections between entries of notes.

There will possibly never be a best-for-all note-taking system. However, there can certainly be one that suits you better than every other alternative. Inspiration towards that may come not only from established users, but also from seemingly unrelated fields, e.g. aviation.

Wish you a lucky Year of Dragon,

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