Welcome to another edition of Eight Questions For …, where I where I pick the brains of plain text enthusiasts from around the world and around the web.
In this edition, I talk to Rodrigo Camacho. Rodrigo’s the chief commercial officer at a cybersecurity firm who’s also a relatively recent convert to plain text. Rodrigo describes himself as a productivity nerd, and his philosophy around plain text is very similar to my own.
Let’s hear from Rodrigo:
When did you start using plain text?
I started using plain text 36 months ago. After many years of trying different tools and them failing on me through sunsetting or too many distractions; I realised that plain text was often the best solution.
Why did you start using plain text?
All the tools I used forced me to organise things in a certain way. I spent more time thinking about how to organise things and doing that than actually working.
When you are hammering in a nail, the hammer disappears. As you work, the tools you use should also disappear. Plain text is like that for me.
What do you use plain text for?
I use plain text to do all my note taking and for handling my todo lists. I also use beancount for keeping track of finances.
What keeps you using plain text?
Plain text is super fast. There are no distractions.
It’s easy to move around in a plain text file. Copying and pasting is a breeze, there’s no vendor lock in, and plain text is very light.
On top of that, the tools are stable. If you need them, there are a lot of advanced tools thanks to the work of programmers. You can easily extend or add capabilities to those tools with a little programming knowledge.
Do you use any markup or formatting languages? If so, which ones and why?
I only use Markdown. It’s easy to read in raw text and widely understood.
From time to time I use mermaid for building flow charts.
What are your favourite plain text tools or applications?
NValt - Super fast and simple. It’s the best equivalent to having a white piece of paper with a pen on my desk.
todo.txt CLI - I like my teams to know what I’m working on all the time. We all work remotely so that’s essential. Todo.txt allows me to have day by day breakdowns that I can automatically forward to them at the end of the day.
WorkFlowy - This was the gateway drug to plain text for me. I’m a messy thinker, the outline structure allowed me to think better. I moved away from it since I needed an easier way to just start writing. WorkFlowy forced me to organise right off the bat.
I still use it to take notes on most the books I read.
Is there one tool that you can’t do without?
Todo.txt is running my life at this point. I couldn’t do without it and all the extensions I’ve added to it over the years.
Is there anything you can’t do with plain text?
Text isn’t going to do anything for you. It will only help!