website statistics
Skip to content

A First Attempt at Using Bram Adams' HBOV-2023

Bram Adams has developed and generously shared an advanced system for synthesizing information with the note-taking app Obsidian. Here's my clumsy first attempt at using it.

6 min read

Table of Contents

The Big Information Problem

I come across so much information over the course of a day, and have so many ideas I'd like to remember. I have various haphazard methods for collecting this information, but there's great room for improvement (always).

The question of how to efficiently synthesize all this information and reduce friction in the process as much as possible is a big problem these days that a lot of us are grappling with.

The runaway success of Steph Smith's Internet Pipes course presales demonstrates the demand for a good solution.

I've tried seemingly countless tools for this purpose, and my favorite by far is Obsidian. It's been a great experience and is actually working pretty well for me, but I know I'm only scratching the surface of what I can do with it.

That's why I was so interested when I came across Bram Adams' Highly Opinionated Vault 2023 system. He calls it, a "highly opinionated, unapologetic way to use the knowledge base application Obsidian.

Now Bram is brilliant. A great mind for coding, among other things.

He's far more technically-minded that I am.

But I know I can learn a lot from him, so I'm going to try it.

A Bozo's Guide

I'm far from technical. But most people I know are even less technical.

So I'm going to document in detail my first experience with the BHOV-2023.

This might serve a few purposes:

  1. Facilitate my own learning process and help me remember what's going on
  2. Provide insights to anybody else interested in trying it
  3. Give Bram insights into what the experience is like for one of his interested readers
  4. It's also a form of what Bram refers to as "arbitrage." I love this concept. I'm already doing it, so why not make it into a blog post?

Mobile Integration?

Digging into the materials, I immediately run into a few questions:

One of the main reasons I’m attracted to a system like this is that I run into so much information on my phone throughout the day that I’d like to somehow capture into a central spot with as little friction as possible.

So this is a pretty important part of a successful system to me. I wonder if there is any additional information about this area. It seems to be skipped over here. Maybe it’s addressed later in the documentation. I'll report back if I find it somewhere.

(Note: I played around with iPhone shortcuts for a while trying to get some Obsidian ones to work. I downloaded quite a few, but none of the ones I tried seemed to be able to create new notes in Obsidian successfully on my iPhone running iOS 17.1.2).

Installing the Vault

The text “Use this Template” seems like it is implied that it links to something, but it doesn’t link anywhere.

Using Git Clone

So I need to use the git clone method. I’m going to have to get back up to speed on git clone stuff. I’ve done this before, but it’s been a while, and the details are vague.

To learn about Git Cloning, I went here and proceeded to the section called, “Cloning an Existing Repository.”

I used the code:

git clone

Where's the Vault?

But after I ran that code in Terminal, I didn’t know what happened or where to find my clone.

So I went back to the git clone instruction, did some more reading, and I then used the following code to clone the repository and download it into a new directory on my computer:

$ git clone bramsesvault

Then I went and looked in the root directory of my user folder (I’m on a Mac).

I found that I had a folder called “bramsesvault” there.

But I also had a folder called “bramses-highly-opinionated-vault-2023.”

So apparently my initial git clone command had worked and I hadn’t needed the second one. I went ahead and deleted the new one.

I then navigated to my iCloud drive using the Finder window:

And then dragged the new folder over to my iCloud drive.

Opening the Vault for the First Time

Then I opened the Vault in Obsidian.

That brought up the “Trust author” dialogue box seen in Step 4 of Bram’s instructions.

When I clicked “Trust author and enable plugins” it brought up this page:

I just left that page alone.

The gitignore File

Bram’s next instructions are as follows:

I went to Terminal and entered the command:

Obsidian Git: edit .gitignore

Clearly that was the wrong thing to do, as I got the error message:

zsh: command not found: Obsidian

I tried navigating to my iCloud directory in Terminal:

Users/Me/Library/Mobile Documents/iCloud~md~obsidian/Documents/My Obsidian

But got the error message:

cd: too many arguments

I’m going to try looking for the .gitignore file in my code editor (Brackets).

Found it!

It looks like this:

Back to Bram’s instructions:

I don’t really understand this right now, so I’m going to leave it for the time being.

Updating Plugins

So I went on to Bram’s next step and found that I have 25 plugins to update:

Ok, updated those.

Exploring the Vault

Now, the instructions say to explore the vault, starting with the “starred notes in the lower left.”

I don’t see anything “starred” so I’m just going to poke around.

Initial Conclusion

I poked around a bit, and, well… I love Obsidian.

It's clear that Bram's method here is incredibly powerful.

But for me, there's also a steep learning curve that I can't take on right at this moment.

If there were some very simple tutorial videos or something like that to make it more approachable, I think I would forge ahead a bit more.

I'm going to continue using Obsidian in the simple way that's been working for me, and gradually incorporate some the pieces of Bram's system one by one.

I need to minimize the tech and keep my mind in the writing as much as possible.


After installing the BHOV-2023, when I went to look at my own vaults, the notes weren't loading. I tried restarting the Obsidian app several times and eventually deleted and reinstalled the app. None of that helped. My notes still weren't loading.

After a while, I went in to Settings and disabled every single plugin.

To my relief, the notes loaded again.

Final Thoughts

I should have made detailed notes about which plugins were turned on before installing the vault so I could restore it if needed.

As it stands now, I'll need to take the time to re-enable them one by one to see which plugin seems to be causing the problem.

This is part of the learning curve.

I've learned some things, and I'll be back when I have some more time.

There's a wealth of knowledge and inspiration in this vault.

And I know that on the other side of the learning curve there's a system that provides tremendous value.

obsidianbram adamsbhov-2023steph smithinternet pipeshighly opinionated vault 2023


Related Posts

Members Public

Models for Structuring Paid Membership Communities

A lot of people are finding creative ways to monetize their communities these days. One common method is using a membership/subscription model with various tiers. Let's take a look at a few examples and how they're doing it.

Members Public

Issue #1: What are we even doing here?

New Year’s Eve 2023 This title is the tagline to a Youtube channel I love called Canned Fish Files w/ Matthew Carlson. What a great tagline. He begins every episode with it. And it’s a perfect title for this very first issue of my little so-called newsletter, because

Members Public

Steph Smith's Internet Pipes course has taken off

A course teaching people how to do writing research on the internet has made well over $100k in presales.