Why note-taking apps failed us
Heptabase, a note app featuring card-like interface, released v1.0 and finally offered free trials.
I subscribed for one month and canceled. After trying those new wave of note-taking apps, including Roam Research, Obsidian, Notion, and Craft, I knew Heptabase wasn’t for me, too.
The reason is pretty personal: I found myself often not doing much insightful research, but just collecting thoughts, which could be easily done through any plain note-taking apps, or just brain. I have no intention to build or publish any beautiful note structure that could only be meaningful to myself.
If you’ve ever read books like:
“How to Take Smart Notes” by Sönke Ahrens. This literally ignited the new wave of note-taking apps.
“How to Read a Book” by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren
You’ll know that, ultimately it’s all about researching and coming up with insightful ideas or conversations.
Back to Heptabase. It does successfully build a user community, at least here in Taiwan. The founder, Alan Chan, published a series of articles that inspired users, and created a community for Heptabase.
(People in web3 would say “building a community before a product,” and you know that doesn’t require web3 technology at all ;)
But WikiLinks did not work well for learning. Mind mapping apps did not focus on connecting ideas. HyperCard has already inspired the web and Wikipedia. Do we really need more personal tools for that? I’m not sure.
Lastly, I recommend reading this one:
But I don’t buy the idea of AI tools or companion. It’s great for learning something new, but probably not so useful for researching. The history has taught us to make connections with the great minds.