Use plain text

Tags: writing plain-text 



Plain text formats like Markdown, AsciiDoc, and TeX are great for documentation, technical writing, and note-taking.

The Lindy Effect

Plain text has been around since the dawn of time (advent of computing), and will remain accessible for an eternity (not exaggerating at all).

I’m confident in my claim because there exists an interesting phenomenon known as The Lindy effect (or Lindy’s Law)1 that theorizes - a technology or an idea has a life-expectancy proportional to its current age.

For example, a 20 year old piece of software will remain relevant for 20 more years in the future, whereas a technology of three years might become obsolete within the next three.

Why plain text?

  • Aside from longevity, plain text is independent of any platform, OS, device or any closed source ecosystem.
  • Sync files with tools like rsync or Syncthing or any cloud service you prefer. You can even use something like a simple local static http server.
  • Use version control tools like git to keep a history of your changes.
  • Focus on writing instead of wasting time styling and formatting documents unlike rich text formats (HTML and Word documents).
  • Search and manipulate files with awk, grep, sed, or other alternatives.
  • Convert to any format required with tools like pandoc. You can generate .pdf, .ebook, .html and more.
  • Use static site generators to create websites from your plain text files. Popular services include Hugo, Jekyll, Blot, Astro (what I use for this website as of July, 2023), etc.
  • Write shell scripts to simplify and automate your work flow.
  • Most importantly, you can use your ever so familiar code editor (in my case Neovim) for your plain text files.


I have created shell scripts to take notes, write journals, log personal data, manage bookmarks, manage cheat-sheets and a lot more to simplify my workflow with plain text.


  1. The Lindy Effect

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