A smiling older man holding a large purple rock

I often make the comment on Reddit or Mastodon that Obsidian, a cross platform note taking application, is my favorite piece of software since Netscape Navigator 2, the browser that practically everyone used when we transitioned from AOL and CompuServe to the real Internet back in the 90s. Back then we discovered new and interesting web pages daily. The Internet was full of hastily constructed and esoteric material, and it all seemed so magical. For our whole lives we’d had to wait until 10 past the hour for the radio to give us a weather forecast and now we could use this marvelous piece of software to go to weather.com whenever we were curious. It was revolutionary and amazing, and it took a while to get used to.

Eventually we did get used to it, along with all of the other marvels over the past nearly 30 years. I find myself quite jaded sometimes. The computer I carry in my pocket can do almost anything and I’m still referring to it as a phone, the same name i used for the hard-wired wall mounted rotary dialed device at my grandmother’s house. I no longer marvel at being able to do my Christmas shopping from my couch or following a baseball game pitch by pitch, knowing the speed of every thrown ball and the batting average of every hitter right up to that at bat.

I experienced an Internet revival late last year. After an aborted attempt to retire early, I’d lost interest in keeping up with technology. I quit following the news, stopped downloading software and spent hours scrolling trash subreddits like “Am I the Asshole”. Out of desperation, I went back to work to have something to do. Even though I went back into the IT field, I was still ambivalent. Instead of being on a Mac like I was used to, I was assigned a slow old Dell full of Microsoft software. It did not spark joy. Then one day I picked up my old iPad and for some reason launched my RSS reader. Many of blog feeds were years old and dead but some were still active. I started reading them first from boredom and then with interest. People were talking about apps I’d never heard of. I cracked open my MacBook and started downloading updates for the OS and the hundreds of apps I’d collected over the years. It took a while.

A British blogger, Robb Knight had created a page where people were listing their default apps in all kinds of categories. I wanted to get on the fun. I’d been working in the Apple/Mac/iOS space since the late 90s and except for the short break after retirement, I’d always been fascinated by software. In order to get added to Robb’s site, I had to start a blog. I signed up at Micro.blog, registered a domain and started writing. One app I saw mentioned over and over that I’d never used was Obsidian. It’s free to download and you can use it all you want without paying a dime unless you want to take advantage of their sync service, something I did a little later.

I documented my learning process in Obsidian as it progressed. I’d download a plugin, watch a YouTube video, configure my setup, use it for a few days and then write a post for my blog. I’d cross post it on Reddit and use a hashtag on Mastodon. I went for months living and breathing Obsidian. I started doing all my writing in it. I pimped out the template for my daily note, incorporating more and more of my life into it. I integrated key email messages via IFTTT, Dropbox and Hazel. I synced my bookmarks from Raindrop.io. I started using Omnivore as my read it later service simply because it automatically imports into Obsidian. I started my first GitHub repository to share 500 Markdown notes containing my quotes collection. I managed to get Obsidian to do every single thing I’d once used Evernote for.

Because of Obsidian I’ve been able to learn blogging in the 21st century. I have four different blogs on three different platforms. I’ve got good notes and records and tens of thousands of words of web posts in my vault. Although I still write about the app once or twice a week, I’ve moved on to writing reviews of other software and even into non-technical writing. It’s amazing that something as simple as a plain text editor at its core has been at the center of my tech and real-life revival. It is so powerful and so extensible that it almost defies belief. The community around the app is generally helpful, supportive curious and open. I’ve even interacted with the CEO of the company on social media.

So, to the folks in whatever Bat Cave Obsidian is developed in, thank you for making such a wonderful tool. I owe you one.