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Comparing and cataloguing tools

Our first Viz Hoedown highlighted a half-dozen tools, all on the topic of the regenerative economy.

Shall we lather, rinse and repeat? How can we better capture what we learn along the way?

@Jerry I think it would be a great idea. Gene put this map together that shows some of the tools that we talked about in our initial call:

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Here’s the list of tools I took down during the Visualization Hoedown
into the Miro Map I made on the call.


I see our different renditions and I’m just dyin’ for a shared map! :slight_smile:


Is weaving stories together important? Has a tool been choosen specifically for this?

Isn’t there a need for a tool that weaves all the stories together?

As you know, in the vein of Roam/Foam, etc., there is also Obsidian, (Tiddly) Stroll, and TiddlyRoam. This is a good “chef’s tour” of Obsidian / Stroll / Roam; particularly Obsidian: “Obsidian, Stroll, TiddlyRoam Tours”

This is a pretty good side-by-side review of Obsidian and others (although they missed the outline features of Obsidian). I like their differentiation between “productivity” and “personal knowledge management” (even though, really, the buckets blend and overlap and also have big sub-buckets).

“NOTION vs ROAM vs OBSIDIAN vs REMNOTE (How to choose the BEST FIT note taking app for you!)”



  • @anderbill , for pointing out Stroll
  • @Jerry for the name “chef’s tours” of knowledge tools
  • Anthony Bourdain, for being an amazing tour guide and human
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Thanks for the work; I look forward to browsing through this.

Notion: I tried Notion yesterday. The introductory UI just overwhelmed me. For some reason, or expectation from using other tools, I found it too noisy. So I think I will be deleting my account. Some reflection on my experience is warranted for me.

I find Notion is the tool I wish Lotus 1-2-3 had been (or Excel, fer sure), but when groups try to use it, the spaces get crazy very quickly.

With a really good information architect, I imagine Notion would be fabulous.

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Sometimes people are promoting one tool over another and it becomes clear the primary use case(s) are different. Here are some common ones and some common tools being discussed, My list here is sort of The Brain vs Roam, when there are many other tools. My point is more about the Use Cases, and this list is for Personal uses, not group sharing and group sensemaking, that would be another set of use cases.

  • Collecting and organizing information (mainly web links or clipped articles) - The Brain (I don’t know how Roam or Obsidian handles attachments or captures URLs, is there a preview pane?)
  • Discovering and Creating Links between Concepts or Facts - both have strengths, to me the visualization of TB is an advantage; Roan/Obsidian presents “related thoughts that are not yet linked” via search, which is very good
  • Writing Long Form Articles or a Book - Roam/Obsidian may have an advantage here
  • Daily Logging - Roam advantage due to prompting you
  • CRM / People - both strong, but neither as good as a dedicated CRM tool!
  • Evergreen Notes - Roam

Disclosure: I am an on and off user of The Brain, I have not used Roam or Obsidian (and am purposely avoiding trying them as I have a large time investment in The Brain).

The Brain announced some new text linking features coming in probably a few months.

We are fortunate to have so many tools to help us think! (ha!)


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Regarding the ‘comparing’ part of the question: perhaps my paper (a ‘Fog Island Tavern Talk’) on has some useful considerations :

Problem-solving and Systems Thinking Approaches

Thorbjoern Mann is involved with Metamaps, @DavidPrice is involved with DebateGraph (for the latter: unconfirmed if this is actually him, his account with OGM, or somebody else). I wonder what @Gyuri is using in his TrailMarks, or if @jackpark has some visualization for TopicQuests.

This list should get consolidated, and wonder how it duplicates or can complete/extend Wikipedia.

@peterkaminski can you tell us more about Obsidian for a text oriened, back linking tool? I think a key feature is it is working off Local files, which addresses a concern I have for Roam

@systemswiki I think I saw you post about Roam, what is catching your fancy?

Obviously there are loads of videos and blog reviews of tools, but I like to hear the key points from this group!

Same David Price - co-founder of Debategraph

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Good intro video of Obsidian and using it for Zettelkasten approach to note taking and content creation.


Adding to a comment I posted under a different topic:

The first steps would be

a) to develop a kind of ‘evaluation aspects tree’ against which the tools can be compared; and

b) to start a discussion focused on a proposal for actual action recommendation (below) structured loosely according to the ‘pilot’ system I proposed in the “P D S S _ R E V I S E D” paper on (We can start with an unstructured discussion first , I can try to map, condense and organize it). Bringing it to a preliminary agreement by participants, following some degree of thorough evaluation. This material could then be used to see whiter and how the indifferent platform candidates might accommodate such a discourse.

Here’s the other post:

I feel the need to repeat my earlier comment on the structure of this effort.

I see it as a well-intentioned effort to ‘get ready for the needed change’ in how humanity is running things. And a well-intentioned effort to collect ‘all’ helpful information available for that purpose.

My question is: How is the conceptual conceptually different from the encyclopedias, from Diderot to Wikipedia? It has to be done either according to some 'ontology – a classification – or without that, relying on the computing/ search power of the query system to find everything by ‘key word’ or equivalent. The inadequacy of that approach can be assessed by looking at the obvious perceived need to constantly develop yet another such collection – because the previous ones just became too clumsy to work with, just by beaming more all-inclusive. Some recent examples are the Systems Community of Inquiry blog / page by Benjamin Taylor ( compiling interesting work on systems, or Dmitry Sokolov’s amazing effort to compile all potentially helpful information for the same purpose: his LikeInMind project ( or Though intending to stimulate discourse, neither one is generation much in the way of comments or discussion. Any ‘new’ effort to actually achieve a more ‘action’-oriented outcome then feels the same need to start compiling documented work. (Debategraph and some other efforts tried to follow this advice, and there should be more discussion about how to do that better.)

Rittel’s still under-appreciated insight was that information systems aiming to support planning and policy-making should be organized to support the argumentative process of these activities – according to ISSUES (i.e. controversial questions) arising from the argumentative discussion of prelims to be remedied and proposals to do that.

To the extent the OGM effort actually hopes to achieve or influence real action on the problems humanity, it is my opinion and urgent advice to start discussions on actual, specific problems and proposals, aiming at producing recommendations for actual decision-makers to implement as ‘global agreements’. As for the ‘global’ ambition of this, would it be useful to start with an issue of interest to a ‘non-western’ community or culture with very different conceptual and philosophical perspectives about such issues – to overcome the likely objection of yet another ‘colonialist’ (this one overlaying the western outlook with the presumably more global ‘systems’ claim?) Just asking.

Hey, let me very briefly offer another option proposed by the early hypertext pioneers: you could use ontologies/semantics to supply/feed user interfaces for augmentation (to augment/extend our limited natural human capabilities), in order to organize and navigate the material and also have powerful controls for curation and manipulation. Then there’s no need to get terribly stuck or confused on ontologies, taxonomies, argument/debate “mapping”, the reasoning/AI/inference business, knowledge graphs, paper simulation, or other similar more popular paradigms of today. The example could be more of what you need for focus and situational awareness in the cockpit instruments of a fighter jet for that kind of split-second or high-efficiency performance, or as found in some games, just in this case for the purpose of analyzing complex, urgent problems or coordinating large-scale group collaboration.

I don’t know if OGM cares much about this approach in particular or where you possibly could find such tooling anywhere on offer available to us, it’s also somewhat still early days and in a research stage, as there have been prior examples of this, and for sure businesses, finance, governments, the military has such machinery in use, wonder if the general population can get some too or has to remain stuck on the bad Web stuff, which is good for developing online shops and games, but of little use for OGM-type concepts.

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Just to clarify: I did not get a good idea of the ‘approach’ you are advocating – do you have a specific product in mind we might use, or is it a general, more general ‘strategy’ proposal? What come to my mind, as a result of you analogy of a fighter jet situation, is some sophisticated simulation game program – like the ones used for training pilots. Would such a tool have to rely of specific context data, or could there be a ‘general-purpose’ version?

Personally, I have been worrying primarily on the design of platforms and methods supporting planning / policy-making discourse for decisions that must consider 'distributed information and thus require wide (initially unspecified) participation. But I have always emphasized that there will be, in any community small or global, emergency-type situations that call for fast decisions by people designated – empowered – to make such decisions. (one specific problems I am worried about is how to keep people in such situations to be addicted to their power, and how to keep them from getting tempted to abuse it).

A common take is to say that such decisions will rely on ‘intuition’. But isn’t reliable intuition – for such situations as may occur in a fighter jet cockpit – the result of intensive training? That is, being exposed to many real or simulated situations in which such decisions are called for, but accompanied by equally extensive ‘discourse-type’’ information about the kinds of situations, the forces involved, the expected results of different responses, etc.?

That knowledge can then be incorporated in the ‘simulation games’, responding to the human 'player’s actions with realistic instant consequence simulations: the game program uses (known) knowledge ‘augmented’ by its superior computing speed, to simulate the actions of a human or equally augmented artificial ‘opponent’?

Is this what you have in mind with your suggestion?


Reliable intuition as the result of training sounds correct to me. My experience of my own intuitions is that they appear as a voice off to the side whispering “Pssst! I have an important message for you.” It is easy to ignore the whispering.

Thanks for asking, I’m all for clarifying and avoiding/reducing confusion and misunderstanding! :slight_smile: You’re right, it’s not a particular contemporary product, because I’m not positive if such one exists or is generally offered somewhere, but there are a bunch of candidates and examples which can provide some sense of how such a thing could look like. So it’s more of a general strategy/approach, still to be built as one or several products, but it’s also about a larger, wider support infrastructure, not just individual consumer packages, if you want. If our job would be to fly a fighter yet, we would want the cockpit instruments, simulators, air traffic + ground control, intelligence, R&D, logistics, etc. to pull off such a complex task well. Now, surely, that analogy has its limits as our sensemaking and global mind is not about flying through the air at top speed somewhere or about physical machinery, but mind amplification for aiding the intellect and understanding with navigating effectively though a flood of information. I’m a little bit worried that an open group like this is well equipped and trained with such tasks, to achieve such ambitious goals.

So if OGM is (maybe just in part) anticipated to enter into large-scale sensemaking and StoryThreading and systems analysis practices/services, what would be an/the adequate simulator if we would want to start with taking lessons now/soon?

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