Layers of writing

May 12, 20228 minute read

What if I was always writing and sharing?

I like keeping notes, and writing down what happens. Both at work, in my personal life… anywhere that matters to me. I use the same platform for all of them, currently Obsidian, previously Org Mode.

These notes are a collection of Markdown files, with links to other Markdown files — that’s about it. Some images for spice too. I like Obsidian over org-mode because of their mobile client support, for both ipad and iphone, I like taking notes when the moode strikes.

What I’ve been thinking about is sharing these notes instead of maintaining (poorly) a blog. What I would add is an abstraction of layers to my note system. Some of my notes are completely personal, and should never be published. Some are work related and can only be shared with other colleagues. Some of them are ideas that I’d love to share with the world. Some are shopping lists.

The way I see it is that there are different audiences to my notes. I really like this idea. Here is how I visualize it…

Website

This is how I imagine the published notes would work. Folks can log in, or remain anonymous.

Josh Blog

Layers of writing

I like keeping notes...

The structure

The idea is to build on top of Markdown notes, using JAM stack frameworks to generate a website. Most frameworks recognize front-matter, which is a block of YAML at the top of the document where you can store meta data about the file. That is a good place to put the audience field. Which could be a single value, or possibly a list.

Data

---
title: Lunch
audience: family
---
## Some note about next Sunday lunch needs
- [ ] Get sandwiches
- [ ] Get beers
---
title: Important Report
audience: [team-a, team-b]
---
## Important Report!
URGENT!
Spoke to [Jo]() and they agree it should have a captial "F"
---
title: Poetry 1
---
## Poetry
Oh, to be markdown in a world of HTML...

And them some file to connect audiences to email addresses.

audiences:
me: josh@example.com
family:
- brother@example.com
work:
- '*@work.example.com'

How to publish the notes?

Using Obisidian is great because I can write from my ipad, my phone, and of course my laptop. It keeps them all in sync, in realtime, with their paid-for option. But I can’t add special MDX/React stuff to make some of the content… pop. For that I need this blog, this Gatsby powered blog.

I don’t know how to combine the two together yet. Do you have any ideas? Email me!

What about once-off sharing to folks?

Another cool thought is in sharing notes temporarily, using a generated UUID. This link can also have an expiry date to it, so that I don’t forget about it! That would be pretty cool to reach out to folks whom I don’t know well, or even customers.

Something like…

---
title: Does this feature work for you?
audience: [team-a]
magicLink:
id: 4e0ee86a-d6c4-2844-fccb-529f64313a84
expires: 2022-05-19T00:00:00Z
---
Here is a work sensitive thing for a specific customer.

The magic link can allow folks to access private content without logging in.

It could be shared like this ponelat.com/does-this-feature-work?magic-link=4e0ee86a-d6c4-2844-fccb-529f64313a84

This only makes sense for users who aren’t logged in. For all those who are, audiences (including individuals) makes more sense.

Why not org-mode?

nerd alert

Why not org-mode? It is super powerful, can include multiple types of content in it, include code for React or MDX styled content? Why not, Josh?

Two reasons: One, I really want a good mobile client and the org-mode clients aren’t there yet. And two, org-mode demands to be tinkered with… I would often spend hours tweaking things instead of writing notes. It was super fun, but not productive at all. Using Markdown forces me to actually write, not tinker.

Conclusion

If I share more notes, my writing will improve. And who knows, maybe we’ll both enjoy what’s written?


Written by Josh Ponelat who lives and works in Plettenberg Bay building silly things. You should follow him on Twitter or Instagram