How Backlinks Work in Thunk

Andrew Nalband
April 14, 2021

What Are Backlinks?

Backlinks are a powerful way to connect ideas and find patterns in your thinking. The best way to understand them is by example. Let's take a look.

We start with all our notes on a particular topic:

For this example we'll use one of my favorite topics: Behavioral Economics

Let's grab a related note:

Grabbing a related note

Richard Thaler is a prolific author who wrote about Behavioral Economics. It would be great to link these two ideas together. Traditionally we could do that with a simple link.

A link relates this topic to the author who wrote about it:

Links allow us to navigate to the related note

So far, so good. Our topic note knows about our related author note. This is a great way to explore our notes and we've used this before.

What if we're reading our note about Richard Thaler? Wouldn't it be great if that note knew about the related topic? One way to do this would be to add a second link.

Adding a second link completes the relationship

This is much better—both notes are aware of each other. No matter which note we are reading we can navigate to the related note. But...what if there were a better way? What if we could create this whole relationship with just one link rather than two?

Enter the backlink

Backlinks complete the circle with just one link. When you link Behavioral Economics to Richard Thaler with a backlink, Thunk instantly creates the second link.

Backlinks create the second link automagically:

A two-way connection is automagically created!

One link and the circle is complete—now we're talking! We've rapidly created a relationship between our notes.

Somebody get these notes a room!

When you use backlinks, your notes quickly become rich with connections:

Your connected ideas

Thunk includes a gorgeous graph view that lets you visualize all your connected notes:

The graph view in Thunk

Even with all this richness, your notes remain simple and beautiful:

Satisfyingly simple notes

The best part? This is how your brain works. Our brains are associative by nature. We think in metaphors and use them to build a tree of knowledge. Our tools have been forcing us to act like filing clerks—sorting our ideas into files and folders before we can start writing. How can you know where to put a note when you don't even know what it's about yet?

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