Shifting your mindset from hierarchical to networked notes

Does anyone have any success stories about shifting your mindset? I’ve mainly used hierarchical folder-based notes most of my career. I know something about it isn’t working, because I rarely go back and refer to old notes. I’m intrigued with network-based note taking but it seems like such a dramatic shift. I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around it. Anyone else who have made the shift have suggestions on how to make it work?

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I’d recommend not making the shift from hierarchical to networked notes. Instead, use Supernotes’ unique features to give you all the benefits from both structures.

Note making software that focusses on linking over hierarchy (e.g. Obsidian, Logseq, Anytype, etc.) encourages users to have a completely flat hierarchy, and only use links (and backlinks) to build the structure of their knowledge base. I think this is a huge mistake, because it removes context, relationship, and locality, and makes it difficult to do progressive summarisation.

Knowledge is more valuable with context. Links and tags add “loose” context, but hierarchy adds “explicit” context. Links tell you “this note is friends with these other notes”, hierarchy tells you “this note is in a family with these other notes, and here’s how they’re related”.

In other words, hierarchy enables you to quickly find all the notes you have that are closely related to a particular topic. You can reach into your knowledge and surgically grab the specific information you’re looking for.

It also gives you a clear structure to summarise your knowledge for later recall. Parent notes can summarise the content of their children, and the children can summarise the content of their children, etc. This means that when you revisit your knowledge, you can start from the top and go as deep in your understanding as you need to for your current task. Perhaps reading the summary in the grandparent note is enough to remind you of that whole branch of your knowledge tree? Or perhaps, you need to dive deeper on a specific branch to remind yourself of something specific you forgot? How would you do either of those things with a flat hierarchy?

Hierarchy also forces you to consider the structure of the knowledge as you’re creating it. You can’t get lazy and just add a couple of links to a new note and be done, you also need to think “where does this fit in with my existing understanding?” Asking that question can lead you to new insights and understanding, and will likely cause your hierarchies to shift and change over time.

TLDR; hierarchy is powerful, links are powerful: use both.


Really well put. And I couldn’t agree more.

The ability to realize a system as @JamesT described, based on both hierarchy (for context) AND links (for association) is what in my opinion makes supernotes stand out from the pack.


I 100% agree with this. “Mind gardens” sound interesting in theory. But in reality, all you’re doing is creating a web of your own wikipedia links for a future self to jump through. You’re not creating ANY mental scaffolding at all.

Hierarchical + Networked notes are one of the biggest reasons I bought a sub for Supernotes. Unlike a mind garden where you don’t know where your knowledge on a subject starts and ends, the Parent hierarchy in Supernotes helps me to understand: “Ok, here’s everything I know about this one particular aspect of this subject. And here’s some similar/related stuff as well.” It’s built for sense-making and understanding.


This is great feedback, thanks all!