Rigid Categories, Fluid Tags

In cleaning up and reorganizing my notes and thoughts, I’ve come to realize that a tag needs to be broad enough to mark more than one artifact, but be narrow enough to be useful. It’s interesting to see how that mindset affects my organizing while I try to see how everything fits together.

I’m also realizing how many note-taking and journaling apps give you the option of both categories and tags. I thought at first that I’d just stick with my tags, because that would give me the flexibility to retrieve things the way I need them, but most of these systems don’t function the way you expect if you don’t make use of the categories.

At first, I was frustrated because it looked like you could put a note in only one category and then not be able to access it somewhere else, or like you’d be forced into a narrow classification scheme. If a note went into this category, then it wouldn’t have access to that category’s tags. It felt so narrow-minded.

And then I realized I was the narrow-minded one. While categories are rigid and won’t share notes with other categories, tags aren’t so unfriendly. The same tag can exist in different categories, and in most systems it can allow you to see everything with that tag across your notes in the system, or it can allow you to see only the notes with that tag in a specific category. It’s a far more fluid system than I was interpreting it as. Really, it comes down to how I think I would look for a note, and then being open to looking for not only notes but specific topics.

I think this project just became a lot simpler.


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