12 Matching Annotations
  1. Last 7 days
  2. Jul 2021
    1. Created by Niklas Luhmann in the 1950s, Zettelkasten helped him publish over 50 books and 600 articles.

      Example of an article that incorrectly credits Niklas Luhmann with creation of the Zettelkasten.

    1. Your post says nothing at all to suggest Luhman didn’t “invent” “Zettelkasten” (no one says he was only one writing on scraps of paper), you list two names and no links

      My post was more in reaction to the overly common suggestions and statements that Luhmann did invent it and the fact that he's almost always the only quoted user. The link was meant to give some additional context, not proof.

      There are a number of direct predecessors including Hans Blumenberg and Georg Christoph Lichtenberg. For quick/easy reference here try:

      If you want some serious innovation, why not try famous biologist Carl Linnaeus for the invention of the index card? See: http://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/history/research/centres/medicalhistory/past/writing/

      (Though even in this space, I suspect that others were already doing similar things.)

    1. These criteria – surprise serendipity, information and inner complexity

      These criteria – surprise serendipity, information and inner complexity – are the criteria any communication has to meet.

      An interesting thesis about communication. Note that Luhmann worked in general systems theory. I'm curious if he was working in cybernetics as well?

    1. Ohne zu schreiben, kann man nicht denken; jedenfalls nicht in anspruchsvoller, anschlussfähiger Weise.

      You cannot think without writing; at least not in a sophisticated, connectable way. —Niklas Luhmann

      (Source of the original??)

      This is interesting, but is also ignorant of oral traditions which had means of addressing it.

  3. Jun 2021
    1. But it quickly began to feel, for me, like something more intense: a way to not just passively read but to fully enter a text, to collaborate with it, to mingle with an author on some kind of primary textual plane.

      Mingling with the author has a pleasant ring to it. Better than a "conversation with the text"? Definitely has a nicer warmth.

      He could have replace plane with something warmer as well.


      This is related in a way with the way [[Niklas Luhmann]] spoke about communicating with his [[Zettelkasten]] as means of collaborating. (See: http://luhmann.surge.sh/communicating-with-slip-boxes)

  4. May 2021
    1. But I'm not at all confident I would have made the initial connection without the help of the software. The idea was a true collaboration, two very different kinds of intelligence playing off each other, one carbon-based, the other silicon.

      Stephen Johnson uses the word collaboration to describe his interaction with his own notes in DevonThink, much the way Niklas Luhmann describes with working with his Zettlekasten.

      I'll also note that here in 2005, Johnson doesn't mention the idea of a commonplace book the way he does just a few years later.

    1. Hans Blumenberg carefully read Luhmann’s piece on ‘Communication with note card boxes’ in 1981. He compared their respective systems, and did not fail to record that he had “collaborated” with his own Zettelkasten for forty years, compared to Luhmann’s mere twenty-six.

      So Blumenberg predates Luhmann by quite a bit.

    1. Arthur Schopenhauer admired Lichtenberg greatly for what he had written in his notebooks. He called him one of those who "think ... for their own instruction", who are "genuine 'thinkers for themselves' in both senses of the words".[4] Other admirers of Lichtenberg's notebooks include Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Jacques Barzun.

      It would almost have to be the case that with his method and notebooks being so well known that they influenced Niklas Luhmann's idea of a zettelkasten.

  5. Apr 2021
    1. As I was gearing up to start my PhD last fall, I received a piece of advice that made a lot of sense at the time, and continues to do so. My colleague, Inba told me to 'write while I read', meaning that I should take notes and summarize research while I read it, and not just read and underline article after article. That way, not only do I not lose my thoughts while I'm reading an article, but I am actively thinking through the arguments in the paper while I am reading it and my writing is thoroughly grounded in the literature.

      This is generally fantastic advice! It's also the general underpinning behind the idea of Luhmann's zettelkasten method.

      I'll also mention that it's not too dissimilar to Benjamin Franklin's writing advice about taking what others have written and working with that yourself, though there he doesn't take it as far as others have since.

    1. An old bachelor is generally very precise and exact in his habits. He has no one but himself to look after, nothing to distract his attention from his own affairs; and Mr. Dodgson was the most precise and exact of old bachelors. He made a précis of every letter he wrote or received from the 1st of January, 1861, to the 8th of the same month, 1898. These précis were all numbered and entered in reference-books, and by an ingenious system of cross-numbering he was able to trace a whole correspondence, which might extend through several volumes. The last number entered in his book is 98,721.

      I'm curious what this system was? Was it influenced by systems of John Locke's commonplace book? It could also have been the sort of system which may have inspired Niklas Luhmann.

      Whatever it was, it must have been massive and somewhat well thought through if it reached such a tremendous size.

  6. Feb 2021
    1. When I meet with any thing, that I think fit to put into my common-place-book, I first find a proper head. Suppose for example that the head be EPISTOLA, I look unto the index for the first letter and the following vowel which in this instance are E. i. if in the space marked E. i. there is any number that directs me to the page designed for words that begin with an E and whose first vowel after the initial letter is I, I must then write under the word Epistola in that page what I have to remark.

      I must do some research into Niklas Luhmann to see if he was aware of Locke's work or the broader idea of commonplace books in general as it seems pretty obvious that his refinesments on their systems brought him to his conceptualization of the zettelkasten.