12 Matching Annotations
  1. Last 7 days
    1. Let's reframe things here in part because it's highly illustrative of both the phrases as well as the specific question you raise.

      Imagine Andy Matuschak reading Sonke Ahrens' How to Make Smart Notes (CreateSpace, 2017) and making notes on what he feels is important. As he reads, he does what is prescribed, namely, he restates the idea in his own words based on what he's read. In doing this he takes the idea of "evergreen" content from journalism settings (and later SEO settings) which he was familiar with and applies that name to what Ahrens called permanent notes to expound on his understanding of Ahrens! (An evergreen article in newspaper work is an article which was written for a particular recurring holiday, event, or story and is regular. Why spend huge amounts of staff time writing that truly original Valentine's day article? The broad stories about gifts to give and restaurants to visit really don't change from year to year. Just dust it off and reprint it, as readers are unlikely to have saved or remembered it and it becomes free re-purposable content.)

      Of course, in rewriting this definition, Matuschak adds in some additional baggage for those who aren't carefully reading his work. He adds some additional emphasis on revisiting one's ideas and rewriting them over time, which is certainly fine, but I think the novice note maker puts too much emphasis on this portion thinking that each permanent or evergreen note must eventually become polished to perfection. In practice, most seasoned writers don't and won't do this. In fact, I suspect if you looked at Matuschak's note on evergreen notes, you'd find that it probably hasn't changed since the day he wrote it other than agglutinating links from other notes.

      This doesn't mean that one can't modify or change their ideas over time, this is certainly useful and good, but I suspect that the majority aren't doing it the way that might be imagined by Matuschak's original statement or the way that his idea was picked up by the (niche) digital gardening community and spread primarily in the work of Maggie Appleton. It's some of this evolution of Matuschak's definition which bled into digital gardens, which have some overlap with zettelkasten and the note taking realms, which have muddied the waters. As a result, one should take it as general advice and apply it to their own situation, needs, and practice.

      For those who use their own notes for writing, one will often mark their cards/notes to indicate that they've used those ideas in various projects so that they're not actively repeating themselves ad nauseum. Some of the additional tweaks one might make to their notes from a style or context specific perspective are also left to the editing portion rather than being done in the notes themselves. As a result of some of this, unless there is a dramatic flaw in a note, there isn't generally a lot of additional work one would come back to it to revise it. If it does require that sort of major revision, then perhaps the better method would be to make a new note and linking it to the original along with an explanation of the error. I typically wouldn't recommend polishing individual notes to some Plationic idea of perfection. Doing so is often just make-work which distracts from one's time which could be better spent doing additional reading or actual thinking. If you're going to do that sort of polishing work, do it at the end when you've got a longer piece of writing you're including your note in.

      The real question now, is how are you personally going to define permanent notes, evergreen notes, or other related phrases like atomic notes? This practice is called by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren "coming to terms" with an author's work and is part of their analysis for how one should read a book to get the most out of it. I highly recommend reading How to Read a Book (Simon & Schuster, 1972 or Touchstone, 2011) as a companion to any of the usual note taking manuals.

      If you want to continue the experiment on a better unified definition of permanent notes, evergreen notes, atomic notes, etc., you can find a pretty solid bibliography of note making, writing, and reading manuals to peruse at https://boffosocko.com/2024/01/18/note-taking-and-knowledge-management-resources-for-students/#Recommended%20reading.

      While one could certainly go down the rabbit hole of reading all these resources, I would recommend only looking at one or two and spending your time working on actual practice. It's through practice that you're more likely to make actual progress on your own problems and questions.


      reply to u/franrodalg at https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/1azoo9m/permanent_vs_evergreen_notes_am_i_thinking_about/

  2. May 2023
    1. Writing permanent notes was time consuming as f***.

      The framing of "permanent notes" or "evergreen notes" has probably hurt a large portion of the personal knowledge management space. Too many people are approaching these as some sort of gold standard without understanding their goal or purpose. Why are you writing such permanent/evergreen notes? Unless you have an active goal to reuse a particular note for a specific purpose, you're probably wasting your time. The work you put into the permanent note is to solidify an idea which you firmly intend to reuse again in one or more contexts. The whole point of "evergreen" as an idea is that it can actively be reused multiple times in multiple places. If you've spent time refining it to the nth degree and writing it well, then you had better be doing so to reuse it.

      Of course many writers will end up (or should end up) properly contextualizing individual ideas and example directly into their finished writing. As a result, one's notes can certainly be rough and ready and don't need to be highly polished because the raw idea will be encapsulated somewhere else and then refined and rewritten directly into that context.

      Certainly there's some benefit for refining and shaping ideas down to individual atomic cores so that they might be used and reused in combination with other ideas, but I get the impression that some think that their notes need to be highly polished gems. Even worse, they feel that every note should be this way. This is a dreadful perspective.

      For context I may make 40 - 60 highlights and annotations on an average day of reading. Of these, I'll review most and refine or combine a few into better rougher shape. Of this group maybe 3 - 6 will be interesting enough to turn into permanent/evergreen notes of some sort that might be reused. And even at this probably only one is interesting enough to be placed permanently into my zettelkasten. This one will likely be an aggregation of many smaller ideas combined with other pre-existing ideas in my collection; my goal is to have the most interesting and unique of my own ideas in my permanent collection. The other 2 or 3 may still be useful later when I get to the creation/writing stage when I'll primarily focus on my own ideas, but I'll use those other rougher notes and the writing in them to help frame and recontextualize the bigger ideas so that the reader will be in a better place to understand my idea, where it comes from, and why it might be something they should find interesting.

      Thus some of my notes made while learning can be reused in my own ultimate work to help others learn and understand my more permanent/evergreen notes.

      If you think that every note you're making should be highly polished, refined, and heavily linked, then you're definitely doing this wrong. Hopefully a few days of attempting this will disabuse you of the notion and you'll slow down to figure out what's really worth keeping and maintaining. You can always refer back to rough notes if you need to later, but polishing turds is often thankless work. Sadly too many misread or misunderstand articles and books on the general theory of note taking and overshoot the mark thinking that the theory needs to be applied to every note. It does not.

      If you find that you're tiring of making notes and not getting anything out of the process, it's almost an assured sign that you're doing something wrong. Are you collecting thousands of ideas (bookmarking behavior) and not doing anything with them? Are you refining and linking low level ideas of easy understanding and little value? Take a step back and focus on the important and the new. What are you trying to do? What are you trying to create?

  3. Feb 2023
    1. That is, a part of my note taking process involves the physical act of writing, sketching ideas, etc., and I form a picture in my mind of particularly relevant – perhaps “evergreen” in Obsidian-speak – notes.

      Example of someone who associates "evergreen notes" as "Obsidian-speak".

  4. Oct 2022
    1. Much like Umberto Eco (How to Write a Thesis), in the closing paragraphs of his essay, Goutor finally indicates that note cards can potentially be reused for multiple projects because each one "contains a piece of information which does not depend on a specific context for its value." While providing an example of how this might work, he goes even further by not only saying that "note-cards should never be discarded" but that they might be "recycled" by passing them on to "another interested party" while saying that their value and usefulness is dependent upon how well they may have adhered to some of the most basic note taking methods. (p35)

      Link to: https://hypothes.is/a/jqug2tNlEeyg2JfEczmepw

    2. The design of Goutor's note taking method is such that each note should have "a life of its own, so that it can stand independently of every other one in the file." (p28) This concept is broadly similar to the ideas of both atomic notes and evergreen notes in related contexts.

      Goutor says that a note's life stems from its identity by means of its bibliographic source, its unique content, and its ultimate purpose. Here he uses the singular "purpose" and doesn't explicitly use "purposes" thereby indicating that an individual note can have multiple potential lives in different places within one's lifetime of work. It seems most likely that he may not have thought of using ideas in multiple different locations, but again, his particular audience (see: https://hypothes.is/a/8jKcTkNPEe2sCntTfNWf2Q) may have also dictated this choice. One could argue that it would have been quite easy for him to have used the plural to suggest the idea simply and tangentially, but that his use of the singular here is specifically because the idea wasn't part of his note taking worldview.

    1. Posted byu/Kshkn16 hours agoRate my idea for a new product

      One might suggest that the freedom, flexibility, and customization of these systems is actually an unuseful time suck for many users which only encourages shiny object syndrome. From a design perspective, try starting out building a system that works for you before beginning on design for others. Research and looking at the user interfaces offered by the competition will helpful as well. Which are the most popular? fun to use? Why? What actual affordances do those interfaces and functionalities allow? are they truly productive?

      Possibly more productive, what sorts of standards can you leverage to make people's pre-existing notes more useful? Can you take pre-existing stores of .txt or .md files and provide different views or perspectives on them? This will allow people to pick and choose which applications might work with their stores of data to provide different views or perspectives on them. Why reinvent a text editor or tools like Logseq or Obsidian when you can leverage the local stores of data to provide the sorts of services you're not seeing in the broader space? For example, on the "social media" side, there are existing solutions for taking your locally stored notes, putting them into the cloud and displaying them on the web, but the various steps are highly technical and require a relatively large amount of work and admin tax to maintain. A service that allows one to point at their local store of data and automatically host it on a website and keep it synced would be a major boon for the non-technical user.

      Separately, Matuschak did not invent evergreen notes. The first clear cut instantiation I've seen in the literature is from Konrad Gessner in 1548, and honestly even his idea really stems from a longstanding tradition of working with commonplace sententiae preceding his work. (see https://hypothes.is/a/uEboYlOwEeykkotYs594LA) Matuschak simply applied the definition/idea of "evergreen" (meaning easily reusable) articles or content from journalism to describe his notes which could be reused in various contexts. (Example: Why rewrite an article on how to decorate and entertain for the holidays, when you can reuse the same article you've been publishing for years, perhaps along with some updated photos?) "Atomic" notes is another variation on this same theme, but is one which underlies the ability to re-use notes in combination with one or more other notes to generate new ideas.

  5. Jul 2022
    1. Others have called these“Main Notes” or “Permanent Notes” or “EvergreenNotes”. I called them Point Notes to remind myself thatwhen I write them I should be making a point.

      Part of Allosso's definition of point notes: they should be making a point.

      (No mention of "atomic notes"?)

    2. Engage with the idea and comment or elaborateon it in a Point Note.

      Dan Allosso's definition of a point note.

      This is roughly equivalent to permanent notes or evergreen notes in Ahrens or Matuschak's frameworks respectively. Somehow I like what seems like a broader feel here, thought the name

      Does this version contain within it the idea of growth or evolution over time? Evergreen note in Matuschak's version does, though the word evergreen stemming from the journalism space would indicate an idea that doesn't evolve over time but is simply reusable or republishable with little or no work. The linguistic link to evergreen articles in the journalism space creates cognitive dissonance for me in calling notes evergreen. Evergreen connotes reusability, which is useful, but ideas should have the ability to evolve and procreate with other ideas.

  6. May 2020
    1. You should construct evergreen (permanent) notes based on concepts, not related to a source (e.g. a book) or an author.

      Your mental models are compression functions. You make them more powerful by trying to use them on new information. Are you able to compress the new information with an already acquired function? Yes, then you've discovered an analogous concept across two different sources. Sort of? Then maybe there's an important difference, or maybe it's a clue that your compression function needs updating. And finally, no? Then perhaps this is an indication that you need to construct a new mental model – a new compression function.

    1. Instead of having a task like “write an outline of the first chapter,” you have a task like “find notes which seem relevant.” Each step feels doable. This is an executable strategy (see Executable strategy).

      Whereas Dr. Sönke Ahrens in How to Make Smart Notes seemed to be saying that the writing of a permanent note (~evergreen note) is a unit of knowledge work with predictable effort & time investment (as well as searching for relevant notes), Andy emphasizes only the note searching activity in this context.

    1. By contrast, when we’re working on a large work-in-progress manuscript, we’re juggling many ideas in various states of completion. Different parts of the document are at different levels of fidelity. The document is large enough that it’s easy to lose one’s place or to forget where other relevant points are when one returns. Starting and stopping work for the day feel like heavy tasks, drawing heavily on working memory.

      One key difference between working with atomic, evergreen notes compared to a draft manuscript is that the ideas in the manuscript are at different levels of evolution / fidelity. The ideas in the evergreen notes are all evolved components.

    1. Instead, nurture the wild idea and let it develop over time by incrementally writing Evergreen notes about small facets of the idea.

      If you cannot tackle a subject head on, tackle it obliquely by writing evergreen notes about facets of the idea.

      This is an interesting way of reducing the scope of, say, an essay, without sacrificing quality. Instead of writing the whole thing, just write an atomic piece about one of the concepts you need for the larger piece.