Amen. I don’t think either developers of ‘KM’ apps nor their users are doing anything wrong. But, in the background is a naïvety about what ‘the computer’ can and can’t do for us. At the same times our personalties and types of work differ more than we like to acknowledge; one person’s beautiful system is another’s complex nightmare.
The fallacy of some of these knowledge tools is that, despite their ease of capture of information, the act of its capture alone is simply no guarantee of insight. Keyword matching works best for terms with precise meaning (i.e. specific context of use) and no alternate meaning. Automatic linking merely implies presence (mistaken presence). The strictures of such linking (and problems over duplicate note names) force an unrealised and likely unintended controlled vocabulary on the dataset even where not desirable. Back links are fine as a navigational conduit, but if the intention of the linking (less possible if fully automated—without any logic in that function) is not captured it is more a simple graph than a skein of knowledge.
My takeaway from this is use the tool that works for you. But, be careful mistaking ease (lack of ‘friction’) for depth and insight. Nor does that reply the reverse. Harder is not better. Rather, it is intention and a willingness to allow emergent structure—instead of forcing/imposing it—that tends to offer the most reward.
Of course, if you are mapping a syllabus of fixed process then you do want structure. Tinderbox supports in both these roles, and other tools are available.
When comparing app A (that we know well and have used for some time) with app B (where we’ve little experience or time in use) it is necessary to be careful to avoid skewed comparisons. Invariably we compare B to A and judge B by its comparison to A’s features. That’s great if B is meant simply to replace A, but mainly indicates how easy it might be to learn to use B. I’m as prone to this flawed approach as any. I try instead to ask what B does that A doesn’t, or does in a less easy/productive way.
Also massively overlooked is import and export. Unless you know for certain that info will never leave your KM app except by reading in the app, import and export are more important than you might assume. A disproportionate amount of time in the forums over the years has been spent trying to bridge the inadequacies of import or export in other apps (not that Tinderbox doesn’t throw up the odd head-scratcher). Otherwise a KM tool is just a ‘roach motel’ for you information (i.e. information “checks in but never leaves”).
I’m an ‘untidy desk, untidy mind’ person - not a very linear thinker. Though it has taken a long time to learn the deeper parts of Tinderbox (I still am!) the appeal is that it is not pre-structured, allowing room to explore an idea or goal. I’m not surprised—and happy to read above—that some others work here also without a fixed system. That does not imply a lack of intent or purpose. Rather, it acknowledges that the path to the goal is not always self evident at start; there may be blind allies on the way, with no straight path to the goal. Few tools support open thinking and exploration in this way way. Would that there were more! However, it is worth noting such exploratory tools do reward relaxing the overly linear per-structuring we are taught at school.