About switching to Obsidian

writing is thinking


As a potential AD/HD sufferer, I have used MS OneNote and markdown on vscode for a long time to take paper notes, random thoughts, etc. But as lots of new gen noting tools showing in my timelines, like Notion, obsidian, logseq, or recently MS loop, I started to rethink what kind of noting tools really meet my needs. Fundamentally, the main driven reason is that OneNote is not good for retracing stored memory and vs-markdown is too vanilla for me.

At first, I was attracted by the features of OneNote like borderless paper, drawing and typing on the same page, multiple platform support… But in fact, some of the above are not suitable for research needs. Using Pads or Surface to sketch your draft is great, but drafts are drafts. Unstructured notes are not good for reading. To be clear, I’m not saying that handwritten notes are messy, just that unstructured handwritten notes are.
Writing a more structured note takes more time, but it also forces you to think in a more structured way.

So just like transfering to Zotero, I wrote this blog to track the process of transfering to Obsidian.

NOTE: I use the markdown all-in-one plugin in vscode, as vs-markdown mentioned below.

Why Obsidian?

I never tried Notion or LogSeq (the two most frequently showing in my timelines), but I have to say the slogan of Obsidian is very attractive for those brains with small cache.

A second brain,
for you, forever.


As mentioned above, OneNote is close to perfect for writing notes, but for retracing memory, split notes are like FS fragmentation and stuck your critical I/O path. Modern noting tools provide utilities like backlinks*** to connect those fragments and visualize those links.

backlinks is like “cited by”

And *tags (keywords)** provide a more rough approach to link those fragments. It’s worth mentioning that the granularity of linked fragments is a paragraph block instead of a whole article.

Less writing effort

Taking unstructured notes is still better than letting thoughts be swapped to air. Link system can also help you to re-organize your fragmented thoughts

The action of making a link is super lite and it extracts the link from your brain to notes.

any GPT-based tools to provide potential links for users to choose?

All you need is Markdown

Since Markdown is a perfect lite renderer, Obsidian has a rich plugin market like vscode. You can easily integrate it with other applications like Zotero or extend it like LaTeX support.

At the same time, the live preview mode still makes the layout pretty by merging the 2-tab style like vs-markdown.

Limitation? Question?

  • Electron-based apps are sucking up your DRAM
    • but maybe a trade-off for easy plugin development?
  • Still some markdown renderer glitches in live preview modes
    • but hey, we are OneNote users who can ignore them like comments.
  • Not an expert, but still suspicious of the effect of a single-level link layer


    Table of Contents