I have been keeping org-mode1 notes on a daily basis for a couple of years now. I started keeping journal notes with Evernote around 2012, but soon got disillusioned on proprietary formats for keeping notes, especially given that I pretty much hate to use any text interface without good Vi key bindings.
After learning about the power, flexibility and simplicity of org-mode with Emacs, which does have a pretty good Vi mode2, I transitioned to use org-mode for journal notes exclusively.
Even though these notes are source controlled, they are not in a public repository and I realised that there are probably some notes which might be useful for others as well.
Starting a public Wiki
One of the primary reasons for starting a wiki is the fact that I found most of the blog posts I want to write are better served in a wiki format. Wikis have following advantages compared to often static blog posts,
- Editability and version history - A wiki by its very nature is supposed to be a living document updated with new information when they get outdated.
- Extensibility - Since the wiki source is public, which is in my case, even others can fork the repository and fix/correct errors in the wiki easily with a git work flow.
- Better discoverability - Wiki is organised around topics with articles inter-linked for related concepts. Blog posts on the other hand are not organised around topics and not so well inter-linked considering that old blog posts rarely changed to link to newer blog posts.
- Narrow focus - As someone who’s just starting to write publicly, I like the narrow focus of a wiki article compared to the open ended nature of a blog post. I can write about even the most trivial thing as a wiki article without too much self reflection on the fact that whether this really deserves writing a blog post about!
A wiki would be a good way to organise knowledge and know hows in a personalised way. The point of a personal wiki in my mind is not to be an exhaustive source of information, a la Wikipedia, but to organise information as one learns things on a daily basis. This information while not exhaustive or even authoritative, is pretty useful for recall, and incidentally, might be useful for others as well.
There are plenty of personal wiki software, but I wanted to find something which can be integrated with my existing blog easily. I followed the excellent wiki by Nikita Voloboev. Nikita’s wiki is the primary source of inspiration for starting a wiki on my own, especially when it comes to the format and the hosting option.
I signed up with GitBook with their Github integration. The interface for setting up a new book is pretty simple. GitBook has the option to link the book to a Github repository. Source for the new wiki is at Personal knowledge wiki in my case.
Even though I much prefer org-mode considering most of my writing is done via Emacs these days, I’m fine with Markdown format. In fact Markdown has much better support in a wider variety of tools compared to org-mode which is mostly used within the Emacs ecosystem. Also there’s pandoc3 for converting my existing notes to Markdown format should I so choose.
Plans for the Wiki
I plan to distil some of my personal notes into a these wiki articles for my own use and others who might find useful. For example, there are many things in day to day work or in my own explorations I learn and I want to remember for later use. It could be as simple as a Vim trick, or something like a programming language concept.