Moving my book notes online

I moved more of my book notes online, reasoning that a braindump is better than occasional whining about the lack of a good system. ;) Fellow Emacs geeks who use Org will probably get the most out of this, as they can open it in Emacs and work with the hierarchy, but someday I may figure out a neat little hyperlinked solution that will make it easy for everyone else. Or I’ll pull more and more of these posts into my blog, where they’ll be individually linkable and commentable.

Compare: http://sachachua.com/blog/category/book/ , which wins points for being graphical and highlighted and comment-friendly, but loses topical organization, overview, search, and offline access.

It’s a start. Here’s what’s working well:

CAPTURE: Using Org + Remember to capture book notes uses the same process as my other notes. Diagrams can be scanned in and attached to files. I used to scan and OCR dogeared pages, but typing or dictating them in is okay, and it helps me review. The capture part of my process is fantastic.

ORGANIZATION: org-refile or copying and pasting are easy, so this part of the process is fine.

REVIEW: I might schedule times to refresh my memory of certain books. I can do that with Org agenda fairly easily.

SHARING: Here’s where the process breaks down a little. org2blog-post-subtree is great, and I’ve used that a number of times to post the relevant subtree of book notes. That adds the notes as entries in my blog, storing the post ID in my Org file so that I can get back to the post afterwards. org2blog also makes it easy to edit entries, hooray.

Once it’s in my blog, people can use the categories to find other entries. However, my current blog layout doesn’t highlight the categories, and it’s not easy to browse the different book-related categories. Maybe it’s worth tweaking a “reading” or “book” category layout page.

Aha! How’s http://sachachua.com/blog/book-notes/ ? It’s a manually-edited list at the top (thanks, Org!), followed by an automatically-generated index. I’ll gradually move my other notes into this system – text notes in my Org file and blog entries for linkability/commentability. Progress…

  • http://purl.org/NET/srid/ srid

    Have you considered using Evernote? Just curious. I suppose you find Emacs more comfortable, but despite being a Emacs fan myself, the main reason I stick to Evernote is its Android support and PDF scans/search.

  • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

    I’ve considered using Evernote, but it’s actually easier for me to capture and organize text using Emacs Org than Evernote, and I have some Android support thanks to DropBox and MobileOrg. =) Scanning is often less convenient than typing things in.

  • http://blog.dunsmor.com/ Jason Dunsmore

    I’m a long-time Org-mode user, but I recently started blogging with Org-mode + WordPress using org2blog (your blog helped me decide on that combination, thanks!). Great idea for large-scale organization of a blog. I think I’ll try your method when the number of posts on my blog increases.

    By the way, your book notes are an awesome resource. I look forward to browsing through them (in org-mode of course – don’t worry, I’ll hunt down the blog post using the Post ID if I feel the urge to comment).

  • Kevin Waite

    I’m only an org ( and Emacs ) beginner. I learned about org mode from Sacha, but recently my org learning curve was disrupted by setting up my Emacs for mail.
    Just now I did M-x shell , sudo yum freemind.
    Thanks, Fedora!

    This is really a great blog and thanks to Sacha for sharing it all with us.

  • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

    Kevin: I like M-x eshell more than M-x shell most of the time, because I can do LISP-y things from the shell. =) Give it a try. Glad you’re enjoying Emacs and Org!