Jake LaCaze

The Obsidian Experiment is Dead

The Obsidian experiment is dead. What follows is a justification of why Obsidian did not work for me, not a takedown of Obsidian itself, because I think Obsidian is great at what it is intended for. But I don't think Obsidian is a program that I should continue using.

My problems with Obsidian play into a bigger battle for balance I've been struggling with for the last couple years or so: How much digital is enough? Or maybe the question should be: How much screen time is enough?

Like so much work in the 21st century, my day job sees me almost exclusively planted in front of a computer monitor. On top of that, I'm also in front of screens for so much of my leisure time. These days, most writing is performed on a computer. I read my RSS feeds via the computer. I watch YouTube videos or take classes via Coursera. In June I'll be starting an online technical writing certification program. Much of my shopping is performed online. I'm directionally challenged, so I rely on my smartphone's GPS to get me from A to B. Oh yeah, and don't forget about podcasts and the music synced from my Plex server I listen to on that same screen that conveniently fits in my pocket.

It's no secret why so many of us use screens so often. They're efficient. The possibilities are damn near endless.

But how much screen time do I need? I've made great strides in reducing my screen time over the last couple years, and I still use screens way too much.

Ultimately, Obsidian is just another thing to keep me in front of a screen more often. Perhaps paradoxically, using Obsidian pushed me back to bullet journaling. It made me realize that I still wanted some things to be handled in an analog manner. While I acknowledge that screens often allow us to be more productive, I'm not sure they consistently always allow us to be more creative. For me, there's something about pulling out the old pen and paper. It's as if slowing down in such a way gives me the opportunity to sort through the noise and find something to pursue.

While I see the benefits of Obsidian, I don't think it's something I should continue to use. For me, it's just something else to get lost in and distracted by. Perhaps I would feel differently if I had different aims, but my ambitions outside of my day job relate to writing and becoming a better writer. I'm not sure Obsidian empowers my ambitions any more than pen and paper and iA writer.

Perhaps Obsidian is a casualty of my becoming set in my ways. I won't deny that possibility, but if that's the case, this is one case in which I'm not going to fight it. Either way, I'm better off just doing what I'm doing. Not everything is about efficiency and productivity after all. Some things should be done if not only for joy, then primarily for joy. And I do enjoy documenting certain thoughts using analog methods, even if that means that they can't later be linked together to create some groovy graphs.