A review mechanism for notes?

IMO, there’s an importance piece missing from the current org-roam workflow - a review mechanism.

There are two kinds of backlinks - backlinks from journal files to topical files, and backlinks from topical files to topical files.

Current Scenario

  1. For most people, the frictionless workflow is to just write stuff down in the daily journal files, with appropriate links to other topical files. However, this leads to inclusion of both good and bad kind of notes in the backlinks buffer. Some of these notes are useful in the long-term, and some are not. Over time, the backlinks buffer get really long and cluttered, making skimming through it tedious.

  2. IMO, for the creation of Evergreen Notes, one needs to go through the journal-to-topical links and synthesize them into topical notes. So, in theory, all your journal file notes would be refiled and archived to proper topical notes once in a while. (You don’t ‘discover’ any surprising connection between your notes by staring at a graph that is 70% journal files).

  3. There are many reasons to archive a backlink otherwise - primarily when you realize a backlink doesn’t contribute anything towards your long-term knowledge.

A review workflow

Given the abovementioned problems, I think there needs to be a review mechanism that can be coupled with org-roam. It should be able to create a flow that lets you

  • go through your journal notes for past X days or weeks
  • for each block that refers to some topical note, it should be able to refile that block into that file (maybe under a specific ** FROM REVIEW tree so that you can open that file and decide where exactly should it go later). (What if a block refers to more than one topical notes?)
  • mark a refiled block archived/ refiled so that it does not appear in the backlinks buffer anymore (maybe the user can choose whether to show archived links in the backlinks buffer).

If any of you are already implementing some kind of weekly review, I would love to know your flow.

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Are you using org-roam to implement a Zettlekasten notetaking method or more as a general life/project organizer?

I’m not familiar with the notion of “journal notes” vs “topical notes” - are these equivalent to fleeting notes vs permanent notes?

Emphasizes why we need to settle on these terms for the documentation :slight_smile:

Sorry for not clearly defining the terms, I thought these are self evident.

Journal Notes - Notes that you write on daily journal files, either via org-roam-daily or something like org-journal.

Topical Notes - Notes that are dedicated to a topic (a single zettel, and in our case, a single org-roam file.

For example, you can see a Topical note on the left (on the topic Rust) and on the right a bunch of Journal notes in a daily journal file in the following screenshot. While the notes on the topical note is about a single topic, the notes on journal entries can be about anything (while letting you link to topical notes so that you don’t lever lose your notes/ideas).

It’s not your fault. We have people coming from different communities here, with concepts and language that don’t fully align.

In zettel language, org “journal notes” are equivalent to zettel “fleeting notes.”

What you call “topical notes” are zettel “permanent notes.”

Why I posted this issue; we need to define these terms in the documentation.

In any case, I agree with you in general on the value of such a thing, though I don’t have any views ATM on exactly how best to implement it.

This workflow that your are describing would need a way to filter the backlinks buffer based in the occurrences or NOT of other links in the block. (That’s how you can do it in roam research) . And this actually the only functionality that I am currently missing in org-roam.
If you had this you can filter out links that contains also the link [[archive]] or [[not important]] or show only the links that contains [[improve]]. Just examples

@Memex - @bruce is right that we are coming from different places, so we should probably never assume that these things are self-evident!

I actually disagree with my original suggestion and (consequently) with bruce - journal notes are not fleeting notes, and topical notes are not permanent notes.

Looking at memex’s example, it appears that memex is capturing thoughts and resource links, but not content summarizing written sources.

Let me preface the following by saying that I am NOT suggesting that org-roam be used only to emulate the traditional ZK system as use by Luhmann. But it is very important when talking about zettles and links to understand what the original system was designed for and how it differs from what org-mode was designed for, so we can make development decisions with the right context.

The ZK method is about gathering notes from sources created by others, creating summaries of that content, and using those ideas to write down your own ideas in full sentences, with the goal of producing written arguments. It is thus NOT the goal of most org-mode use, which is to globally capture ideas so you don’t forget them, create to-dos and schedules, and other things geared towards time/life/project management. We should be clear on this because the goals of the systems are very different. Something that is “missing” from a life-management or personal knowledge management system is not “missing” from a ZK system–it just isn’t a part of that system.

@Memex, your example notes show sentence fragments and bullet points would never be in a traditional ZK. Although Roam has a daily page, a ZK does not. “Fleeting notes” are not there to capture all of your ideas so you don’t forget them, they are to capture fleeting ideas you have while reading so you don’t forget them when you create literature notes and permanent notes. And “permanent notes” don’t match with “topical notes” because there are actual several possible types of permanent notes that serve different purposes. Literature notes are summaries of a source’s key ideas, permanent notes are your ideas stated in full sentences with proper citation, hub notes (actually the closest thing to your topical notes) list links of permanent notes related to a topic, and structure notes (not a Luhmann concept, but used by many) organize links to permanent notes in a hierarchical way designed to reflect argumentative structure.

You suggest that org-roam add a review function. There is something akin to a “daily review” in the ZK system but it is something quite specific - you review the literature notes you made on a sources that day, and write out your insights and ideas in full sentences on ZK notes. It is not the GTD-type review to organize, prioritize, and remind you of different tasks and goals.

Just to clarify, I was basing the statement on a high-level view of how these work, or could work, in org and org-roam; I hadn’t actually looked closely at @Memex’s examples.

@jethro discusses applying the idea of “fleeing notes” to org and org-roam in one of his blog posts.

I think @Memex means review in the orgmode sense, related to refiling.

So you take quick notes, and then go back to figure out which ones get converted into permanent notes, and act on those; moving them from the daily file to a new permanent note, for example.

What @Memex is proposing here is a way to streamline this.

Sorry, I phrased my comment in an unnecessarily confrontational way - didn’t mean to imply you were taking a hard line position on that!

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