"The Intersection of Cultural Ignorance, Algorithmic Design, and Note-Taking: Unveiling the Secrets Behind TikTok and Choosing the Right App"


Hatched by Glasp

Jul 19, 2023

4 min read


"The Intersection of Cultural Ignorance, Algorithmic Design, and Note-Taking: Unveiling the Secrets Behind TikTok and Choosing the Right App"


In today's digital landscape, two seemingly unrelated topics have captured the attention of users and experts alike: the success of the social media app TikTok and the importance of selecting the right note-taking app. While these subjects may appear disparate, upon closer examination, we can identify common threads that shed light on the factors behind TikTok's triumph and offer insights into efficient note-taking practices.

Breaking the Barrier of Cultural Ignorance:

TikTok, an app developed in Shanghai, defied expectations by surpassing established U.S. video platforms in popularity. Many believed that companies from non-WEIRD countries (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) would struggle to penetrate WEIRD cultures. However, TikTok's success can be attributed to its machine learning algorithm, which effectively pierced the veil of cultural ignorance. By analyzing user preferences and providing personalized content, TikTok connected with diverse subcultures, allowing for rapid growth and expansion.

Exploit vs. Explore: The Algorithmic Conundrum:

The exploit versus explore conundrum is a classic problem in algorithmic design, often associated with the multi-armed bandit problem. TikTok's algorithm, known as the For You Page feed algorithm, strikes a delicate balance between exploiting users' preferences and exploring new content. This algorithmic approach, coupled with a substantial marketing budget, enabled TikTok to attract new users and facilitate the formation of subcultures within the app.

Note-Taking Styles: Architect, Gardener, Librarian:

Just as TikTok harnessed the power of algorithms, selecting the right note-taking app is crucial for optimizing productivity and creativity. Three distinct note-taking styles emerge: the architect, the gardener, and the librarian. Architects prefer structured planning and organization and benefit from apps like Notion and Coda. Gardeners thrive on exploration and connection, finding solace in apps such as Roam and Obsidian. Librarians, on the other hand, prioritize collection and retrieval, favoring apps like Evernote and OneNote.

Note-Taking Apps for Architects:

Architectural note-taking apps, such as Notion and Coda, provide hierarchical structures based on pages and categories. These apps empower architects to easily structure their ideas and processes. However, careful planning is necessary to determine whether an idea warrants its own category, page, or block of content.

Note-Taking Apps for Gardeners:

For those who revel in free thinking and creative work, apps like Roam, Obsidian, TiddlyWiki, RemNote, and Milanote offer non-linear note-taking experiences. These apps feature bi-directional linking, allowing users to explore connections between ideas and foster organic growth.

Note-Taking Apps for Librarians:

Librarians seek to build comprehensive catalogs of resources and require apps like Evernote, Bear, and OneNote. These apps excel at storing large amounts of mostly static information for easy retrieval. They are particularly useful for writers and researchers focused on generating ideas.

Choosing the Right Note-Taking App:

Selecting the ideal note-taking app depends on individual preferences and use cases. If the goal is to store and retrieve information efficiently, a librarian-style app may be the best fit. However, for brainstorming and cultivating new ideas, apps designed for gardeners offer a more conducive environment.


The success of TikTok and the quest for efficient note-taking share common themes of algorithmic design, cultural adaptation, and personalization. By embracing the power of algorithms and catering to diverse user needs, TikTok revolutionized social media. Similarly, selecting the right note-taking app based on individual styles and use cases can transform productivity and creativity. To optimize note-taking practices, remember to avoid the allure of constantly switching apps and instead focus on leveraging the chosen platform's capabilities. Additionally, consider experimenting with different note-taking styles to find the approach that aligns best with your workflow.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace personalization: Seek note-taking apps that offer features like personalized content recommendations or bi-directional linking to enhance your creative process.
  • 2. Prioritize functionality over novelty: Avoid succumbing to the "shiny toy syndrome" and constantly switching note-taking apps. Instead, focus on platforms that simplify your workflow and enhance productivity.
  • 3. Experiment with different styles: Explore different note-taking styles, such as the architect, gardener, or librarian approach, to discover the method that best suits your needs and maximizes your creative output.

In conclusion, understanding the principles behind TikTok's success and selecting the right note-taking app can significantly impact your digital experience. By harnessing the power of algorithms, embracing personalization, and finding the note-taking style that resonates with you, you can unlock new levels of productivity, creativity, and organization.

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