What I want to see are companies providing UIs on a subscription basis so I may interface my own personal data store (which I always have rudimentary access to and it's up to me what I put in the cloud and what I do not)

This paradigm extends to company data stores.

My Story

I, for one, have been burned by vendor/data lock-in over and over and over again.

I started taking notes digitally around 1998 (?) when I got introduced to Outlook. Now I can’t even find my Outlook.pst file and feel like those notes/tasks are lost forever let alone it will be a whole project to get that data out. I did not own a PC while in college (pre world wide web) and most my notes were just plain text files in my UN*X student account. I believe I have a 3.5” disk with an export of my home directory and this is a whole different kind of lock-in cuz who has a computer with a floppy disk these days? (isn’t it ironic vinyl outlasted CDs?)

For the sake of supporting the movement to create smarter tools to help us do our [[knowledge work]], I bit the bullet and just moved through a chain of new tools including TheBrain, Evernote, and now Notion to name a few. I’m left with quite a few silos.

Sure, most tools provide a means of exporting all your data at the cost of losing your meta-data which, arguably, is probably some of the most valuable, insightful, and personal data you have.

While I haven’t done a tremendous amount of research on portable formats, I do not feel (at this time of writing) the trend of markdown is the right solution. Sure, markdown supports links and more advanced formatting and many tools allow you to use CSS to change the “look & feel” of how your notes are presented. As tools like Obsidian demonstrate, interconnecting atomic elements of data/thoughts is a hard problem and you’re giving up this capability at the cost of portability and ease-of-use. Devoting resources to address this issue means a desire for protecting intellectual property which inevitably leads us to lock-in.

The irony is I’ve been wanting a tool that operates on plain text files for quite some time (eg. I wanted to simply “grep” to simplify searching my notes in Evernote) and now that I’ve witnessed whole new paradigms for notetaking in tools like Roam Research, it seems to me that plain text files or even markdown can’t provide the rich interconnectedness I need while notetaking. My autobiography is a good example of something that has served me for almost a decade because of its ability to define child/parent/jump relationships between “thoughts” - simple and elegant in many ways.

I hope someone proves me wrong. It will be interesting to see how things pan out over the next 10 years. If you have strong opinions or a recommendation of a direction to move in, please add a discussion to this page!