A few months ago I started playing with the idea of migrating my notes from Obsidian over to Tana. Tana is a fantastic system and a great tool, but I’ve ultimately decided to keep things in Obsidian for a few reasons.
While I have faith that Tana will be around for a while, using their system ultimately means they control everything. If they go out of business, or suspend my account, or have a big system failure, all of my notes could be gone in an instant. I kept backups of them, but their only export is a big messy JSON file that’s of relatively little value.
I talk a lot on this blog about taking ownership of your content; I do that very well with this blog, but I was doing the exact opposite with my notes and it just didn’t feel right. With Obsidian, all of my notes are literally text files on my computer (that sync and create text files on other devices). If somehow all of Obsidian imploded one day, I’d still have the tool on my computer and I’d still have all of my notes. I’d likely need to migrate to another system, but migrating from plain text is much easier than any other solution.
To a lesser degree, my thoughts about AI-assisted notes played a small role in this. While Tana or any other system could certainly integrate a degree of AI, it feels to me like being able to point an AI system at a folder on my computer that is full of plain text would be a much easier task than building a tool to index a complex system like Tana or Roam Research. Whether AI tools come to notes anytime soon, plain text is much more future-proofed than having notes buried in a proprietary system.
The Obsidian community played a role as well. Tana has a bright community, but the Obsidian community is magnitudes larger. As of today there are 813 plugins and 72 themes for Obsidian, and their Discord community and their forum are both incredibly active.
I’ll miss some things from Tana
That’s not to say it’s perfect, and there are absolutely some things that Tana does better. If nothing else, their Supertags are literally amazing, and due to how the two systems are built, they’re not something that can really be done in Obsidian.
There’s a lot to like with Tana, and I think that platform has a great future ahead of it. For me, though, Obsidian lines up more closely with how we should control our data and I’ll be using it for the foreseeable future.