Building a Knowledge Base

the next time you need to apply a particular process could be months down the road… your chances of remembering the fine details of that process after such a gap are slim

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Producing music via a DAW and software is an inherently complex thing. Whether it’s knowledge of how to setup complex routings within a DAW, an understanding of how a synthesiser plugin works, or knowing how to use an often subtle effect like compression or EQ, we frequently have to learn and then apply complex technical processes as part of music production.

Compounding this complexity when you only produce music occasionally (e.g. as a hobby), is the fact that the next time you need to apply the particular process could be months down the road… your chances of remembering the fine details of that process after such a gap are slim.

Over the years producing music as a hobby, I tried to avoid wasting too much time in these kinds of situations by keeping a diary… everytime I learnt something new and/or useful I’d write notes about it in the diary.  On many occasions, the diary proved useful… in fact sometimes I would do a process, and be surprised to find that I’d already documented that process in the diary months earlier (and completely forgotten about it).  But, the diary was basically just a long Microsoft Word document, and hence had limitations with regard to indexing, searching, and attaching things to it (especially sound clips).

When I started producing full time, I looked at moving from the Word document to some kind of personal wiki software.  There are lots of options the personal wiki arena, but I ended up using a package called ConnectedText.  This has been a huge improvement on the Word file.  The biggest benefit is that every article you write can be classified, and classified across multiple, hierarchical categories… it means that it’s really quick to find articles and notes I  wrote previously… usually by just going to the right top level category and navigating down the tree.  The process of creating new articles is also pretty quick, and it’s easy to link to files and folders, and embed images (like screenshots) and sound clips.

By virtue of the fact that it’s quick and easy to create notes and articles in ConnectedText, I’ve ended up writing over 300 articles over the last 10 months… I surprised myself the first time I realized it was that many.  But the best part of it has been the time saving when it comes to looking up processes that I know I’ve done before and can’t remember.  It also really allows me to quickly find documentation of complex or unusual processes, and has given me a feature-rich platform to create ‘howto’ type documentation on.

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