67 Matching Annotations
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  2. Jan 2022
    1. But this is not the main reason. The other three programs try to achieve the connection or linking between different topics or cards (mainly) by assigning keywords. But this is not what Luhmann's approach recommended. While he did have a register of keywords, this was certainly not the most important way of interconnecting his slips. He linked them by direct references (Verweisungen). Any slip could refer directly to the physical and unchanging location of any other slip.

      Niklas Luhmann's zettelkasten had three different forms of links.

      • The traditional keyword index/link from the commonplace book tradition
      • A parent/child link upon first placing the idea into the system (except when starting a new top level parent)
      • A direct link (Verweisungen) to one or more ideas already in the index card catalog.

      Many note taking systems are relying on the older commonplace book taxonomies and neglect or forego both of the other two sorts of links. While the second can be safely subsumed as a custom, one-time version of the third, the third version is the sort of link which helps to create a lot of direct value within a note taking system as the generic links between broader topic heading names can be washed out over time as the system grows.


      Was this last link type included in Konrad Gessner's version? If not, at what point in time did this more specific direct link evolve?

  3. Dec 2021
    1. https://luhmann.surge.sh/learning-how-to-read

      Learning How to Read by Niklas Luhmann

      Not as dense as Mortimer J. Adler's advice, but differentiates reading technical material versus poetry and novels. Moves to the topic of some of the value of note taking as a means of progressive summarization which may have implications for better remembering material.

    2. In narrative texts, the unity of the text is the result of a tension; it results from ignorance of the future which the reader is constantly [made] aware of; but it is also the result of a backward movement since, as Jean Paul noted, the resolution of the tension depends on the fact that the reader must be able to recur to parts of the text he has already read.

      Niklas Luhmann is broadly quoting Jean Paul here. It should be noted that Jean Paul was a notable user of a note taking method very similar to that of the zettelkasten. What evidence, if any, exists for the connection between their systems. Was Jean Paul's system widely known during or after his own lifetime?

    1. https://luhmann.surge.sh/communicating-with-slip-boxes Communicating with Slip Boxes: An Empirical Account by Niklas Luhmann (transl. Manfred Kuehn)

    2. The slip box provides combinatorial possibilities which were never planned, never preconceived, or conceived in this way.

      This is a reframing of some of Raymond Llull's work into the zettelkasten context.

    3. Usually it is more fruitful to look for formulations of problems that relate heterogeneous things with each other.

      A great quote, but this is likely a nebulous statement to those with out the experience of practice. Definitely worth expanding on this idea to give it more detail.

    4. Bibliographical notes which we extract from the literature, should be captured inside the card index. Books, articles, etc., which we have actually read, should be put on a separate slip with bibliographical information in a separate box.

      Ross Ashby's note taking system, also within the field of systems theory, shows the use of an index card set up for bibliographical notes, however in Ashby's case, the primary notes were placed into notebooks and not onto note cards.

      Was there an ancestral link within the systems theory community that was spreading these ideas of note taking or were they (more likely) just so ubiquitous in the academic culture that such a link wouldn't have mattered?

      (Earlier ancestors like Beatrice Webb may have been a more influential link.)

    5. Considering the absence of a systematic order, we must regulate the process of rediscovery of notes, for we cannot rely on our memory of numbers. (The alternation of numbers and alphabetic characters in numbering the slips helps memory and is an optical aid when we search for them, but it is insufficient. Therefore we need a register of keywords that we constantly update.

      Luhmann indicated that one must keep a register of keywords to assist in the rediscovery of notes. This had been the standard within the commonplacing tradition for centuries before him. The potential subtle difference is that he seems to place more value on the placement links between cards as well as other specific links between cards over these subject headings.

      Is it possible to tell from his system which sets of links were more valuable to him? Were there more of these topical heading links than other non-topical heading links between individual cards?

    6. Luhmann, Niklas. "Kommunikation mit Zettelkästen." Öffentliche Meinung und sozialer Wandel/Public Opinion and Social Change. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 1981. 222-228.

      https://luhmann.surge.sh/communicating-with-slip-boxes

      Note the 1981 original publication date.

    1. Luhmann, for sure, had little (if any) awareness of this long tradition. His excerpting habits should not be regarded as a result of cultural inheritance. A direct contact with early modern excerpting systems is not demonstrable, and Luhmann himself never once mentioned them in his publications.

      Alberto Cevolini argues that Niklas Luhmann was unaware of the prior tradition of excerpting, however even his complex numbering system shows incredibly high similarity to the numbering system of houses used in 1770 Vienna near the time at which Konrad Gessner delineated his note taking system which also used excerpting.

      cross reference Markus Krajewski in Paper Machines, chapter 3, page 28:

      By 1777, the government of Lower Austria starts a renewed numbering of houses. “ As many new houses were built after the last conscription which have no number yet, this is also an opportunity for the rectification of the house numbers.” New entries are to be treated as follows: “If for instance three new houses are found between numbers 12 and 13, the first is to be 12a, the second 12b, the third 12c.”

      Given this evidence, it's more likely that Luhmann was taught this system, he researched it, or perhaps like the broader ideas, it was floating around so heavily in the culture of his time and place from centuries earlier that it was simply a natural fit. More evidence about the prevalence for street numbering may be needed from his time period to know how common this general numbering system was.

    2. The card index appeared to be simply what it was: a wooden box for paper slips. On one of these file cards, Luhmann once summarized his own reflections on just such an experience: ‘People come, they see everything and nothing more than that, just like in porn movies; consequently, they leave disappointed’ (Figure 1).8
      1. Cf. Schmidt, ‘Luhmanns Zettelkasten’, 7. The heading of this file card is formulated in form of a question: ‘Geist im Kasten?’ (‘Does Spirit hide in the filing cabinet?’). Obviously, the answer is no. Many thanks to Johannes Schmidt for providing the image of this file card.

      In a zettel in his system entitled "Does Spirit hide in the filing cabinet", Niklas Luhmann wrote the note: "People come, they see everything and nothing more than that, just like in porn movies; consequently, they leave disappointed." This is a telling story about the simplicity of the idea of a slip box (zettelkasten, card catalog, or commonplace book).

      yellowed index card with the identifier 9/8,3 with almost illegible handwriting in German Niklas Luhmann, Zettelkasten II, index card no. 9/8,3

      It's also a testament to the fact that the value of it is in the upfront work that is required in making valuable notes and linking them. Many end up trying out the simple looking system and then wonder why it isn't working for them. The answer is that they're not working for it.

    3. Cevolini, Alberto. “Where Does Niklas Luhmann’s Card Index Come From?” Erudition and the Republic of Letters 3, no. 4 (October 24, 2018): 390–420. https://doi.org/10.1163/24055069-00304002.

      How have I not come across this article before?!

  4. Nov 2021
    1. Boehm: Professor Luhmann, which critics of your systems theory you fear the most? Luhmann: The stupid ones.

      Ha!

    2. it is true that the systems theory does not emanate with given, natural or morally, absolutely predetermined external variables, instances or criteria, but assumes that all scales of the assessment of action are formulated in the society itself and at once written as an abstraction to its heaven, even although it is changing with the development of society.

      This sounds a lot like the formulation of anthropology that I've been contemplating.

    1. "In the Zettelkasten, there is a note that contains the argument that disproves all assertions on all other notes. But this note disappears once you open the Zettelkasten. That is, it changes its number and relocates itself, making it impossible to find. A joker."

      Ha! A great meta card to have in one's system!

    2. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1re3lYaALScZ49189XIGqUVjQlMPe9uOfLEyz8y7mJuE/edit#

      https://vimeo.com/173128404

      Some better in-depth examples of how Niklas Luhmann used his zettelkasten as well as some of the problems he would have faced and how they were solved (or weren't).

    3. Now that we're digitizing the Zettelkasten we often find dated notes that say things like "note 60,7B3 is missing". This note replaces the original note at this position. We often find that the original note is maybe only 20, 30 notes away, put back in the wrong position. But Luhmann did not start looking, because where should he look? How far would he have to go to maybe find it again? So, instead he adds the "note is missing"-note. Should he bump into the original note by chance, then he could put it back in its original position. Or else, not.

      Niklas Luhmann had a simple way of dealing with lost cards by creating empty replacements which could be swapped out if found later. It's not too dissimilar to doing inventory in a book store where mischievous customers pick up books, move them, or even hide them sections away. Going through occasionally or even regularly or systematically would eventually find lost/misfiled cards unless they were removed entirely from the system (similar to stolen books).

    4. When we look at the Zettelkasten, it looks quite inconspicuous and small and doesn't give away the secret. The outer appearance is trivial, so what is it then that made Luhmann refer to it as his second brain.

      the translation for "second brain" is direct? Does he provide a source for where this was recorded? It's the first time I've heard the phrase outside of Tiago Forte's use.

    5. "The Zettelkasten takes more of my time than the writing of books." —Niklas Luhmann (via vimeo.com/173128404)

      Some people complain about the amount of time that working in their zettelkasten or notes may take, and it may take a while, but it is exactly the actual work of creation that takes the longest. The rest of the process is just the copying over and editing.

    1. According to your catalog, if you have made one, in which every division or subdivision bears a serial letter or number, you can put your slips in order. When they are once arranged, you will find them again without any trouble at the moment of work.

      So here we have in print (we may need to double check the original French from 1921) an indicator of a note taker recommending using serial numbers on slips before Niklas Luhmann's birth.

  5. Oct 2021
    1. In my journey to find a solution, I found this strange and old method of taking notes called Zettelkasten, or slip-box in English. Niklas Luhmann, the creator of the method, was a highly productive social scientist

      Another source in the public wrongly crediting Niklas Luhmann with the creating of the zettelkasten.

    1. In den digitalen Sammlungen der Universitätsbilbiothek Bielefeld kann jetzt in einer Bilddatenbank der erste Zettelkasten, den Niklas Luhmann zwischen 1951 und 1962 erstellt hat, eingesehen werden. Die ca. 24.000 Zettel umfassende Sammlung besteht aus 108 thematischen und 2 bibliographischen Abteilungen sowie einem Schlagwortverzeichnis. Mithilfe einer durch das Niklas Luhmann-Archiv erstellten detallierten Inhaltsübersicht, die als pdf heruntergeladen werden kann, und einer entsprechenden Navigationsleiste können die verschiedenen Abteilungen gezielt angewählt werden.

      In the digital collections of the Bielefeld University Library, the first slip box , which Niklas Luhmann created between 1951 and 1962, can now be viewed in an image database . The collection, which includes around 24,000 pieces of paper, consists of 108 thematic and 2 bibliographical sections as well as a subject index. With the help of a detailed table of contents created by the Niklas Luhmann archive, which can be downloaded as a PDF, and a corresponding navigation bar, the various departments can be specifically selected.

      Note that this is just the first slip box...

    1. https://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Missing-Link-Luhmanns-Denkmaschine-endlich-im-Netz-4364512.html?seite=all

      An interesting overview of Niklas Luhmann's zettelkasten and how it was digitally archived with some potential ideas about how this might be done for other such systems or for ideas for those building and designing their own digital gardens.

    2. Retrodigitalisierung und Archivierung bedeutet weit mehr als Scannen, transkribieren und ordentlich wegspeichern. Die Digitalisierung des Zettelkastens scheint ein besonders komplexes Unterfangen zu sein, dass sehr spezifische Antworten und Lösungen erfordert. Können andere, ähnliche Projekte von Ihren Erfahrungen profitieren?

      Machine translation:

      Retro digitization and archiving means much more than just scanning, transcribing and storing properly. The digitization of the card box seems to be a particularly complex undertaking that requires very specific answers and solutions. Can other, similar projects benefit from your experience?

      It would be interesting to compare the digitization efforts of this process with that of W. Ross Ashby's notes: http://www.rossashby.info/.

    3. Ein Beispiel: Seit Beginn des Projektes wurden bis heute von den Editoren bereits gut 2800 bibliographische Datensätze zu Literatur angelegt, mit der Luhmann gearbeitet hat. Dazu kommen die gut 2100 Publikationen von Luhmann selbst. Und wir sind erst mittendrin.

      Machine translation:

      An example: since the beginning of the project, the editors have already created a good 2,800 bibliographical records on literature that Luhmann has worked with. Then there are the 2100 publications by Luhmann himself. And we are only in the middle of it.

      I wonder what this ratio looks like for other writers and researchers? I'd suspect Niklas Luhmann to be several standard deviations above the average.

    4. Analog zur Struktur des Zettelkastens baut Luhmanns Systemtheorie nicht auf Axiome und bietet keine Hierarchien von Begriffen oder Thesen. Zentrale Begriffe sind, ebenso wie die einzelnen Zettel, stark untereinander vernetzt und gewinnen erst im Kontext Bedeutung.

      machine translation:

      Analogous to the structure of the card box, Luhmann's system theory is not based on axioms and does not offer any hierarchies of terms or theses. Central terms, like the individual pieces of paper, are strongly interlinked and only gain meaning in the context.

      There's something interesting here about avoiding hierarchies and instead interlinking things and giving them meaning based on context.

      Could a reformulation of ideas like the scala naturae into these sorts of settings be a way to remove some of the social cruft from our culture from an anthropological point of view? This could help us remove structural racism and other issues we have with genetics and our political power structures.

      Could such a redesign force the idea of "power with" and prevent "power over"?

    5. Luhmann benennt den Nachteil, dass der "ursprünglich laufende Text oft durch Hunderte von Zwischenzetteln unterbrochen ist" – ein Problem, das in der weiter unten beschriebenen digitalen Edition mittels eines Navigationssystems gelöst wurde.

      Machine translation:

      Luhmann names the disadvantage that the "originally running text is often interrupted by hundreds of slip sheets" - a problem that was solved in the digital edition described below using a navigation system.

      One of the problems Luhmann had with his paper version of a zettelkasten is solved by the digital edition's navigation.

    6. In Absehung einiger Spitzfindigkeiten haben Schmidt, Gödel und Zimmer in einem Konferenzbeitrag die wichtigsten vier Merkmale gekennzeichnet, die das "theoretische Kreativpotential der Sammlung" ausmachen. Namentlich sind das eine nichthierarchische Ordnungsstruktur, das Nummerierungssystem, das Verweisungssystem und ein Schlagwortverzeichnis.

      Machine translation:

      Aside from a few quibbles, Schmidt, Gödel and Zimmer identified the four most important features that make up the "theoretical creative potential of the collection" in a conference contribution . Namely, these are a non-hierarchical structure, the numbering system, the reference system and a keyword index.

      This is as close a definition to Niklas Luhmann's particular zettelkasten as we might get. Keep in mind that given the variations and special cases which appear even in his own zettelkasten that these wouldn't necessarily define the form of all zettelkasten.

      Broad features of Niklas Luhmann's Zettelkasten:

      • non-hierarchical structure
      • the numbering system
      • reference system
      • keyword index
    7. Johannes Schmidt vom Niklas Luhmann-Archiv bemerkte hierzu, dass der Kasten in vielerlei Hinsicht einer unscharfen Logik folge. Man stelle sich einen Botaniker vor, dessen Klassifikationssystem durch einen unerwarteten Pflanzenfund ins Wanken gerät. Ähnlich mussten Schmidt und seine CCeH-Mitstreiter Martina Gödel, Patrick Sahle und Sebastian Zimmer immer wieder aufgrund von überraschenden Zettelmerkmalen ihr Datenmodell nachbessern und modifizieren.

      Machine translation

      Johannes Schmidt from the Niklas Luhmann Archive remarked that the box follows a fuzzy logic in many respects. Imagine a botanist whose classification system is shaken by an unexpected plant find. Similarly, Schmidt and his CCeH colleagues Martina Gödel, Patrick Sahle and Sebastian Zimmer had to repeatedly improve and modify their data model due to surprising note features.

      The form and shape of Niklas Luhmann's zettelkasten was not as static as some may have supposed.

    8. Die vollständige digitale Reproduktion des Zettelkastens einschließlich aller Vernetzungen stellt die größte und reizvollste Herausforderung dieses Langzeitprojektes dar. Der Entwickler Sebastian Zimmer vom CCeH bezeichnete die Aufgabe als facettenreich und anspruchsvoll: "Immer wieder gibt es Spezialfälle zu entdecken. Dadurch ist der Spaß an der Sache gewährleistet, und es wird nie langweilig."

      Machine translation:

      The complete digital reproduction of the card box including all interconnections is the greatest and most appealing challenge of this long-term project. The developer Sebastian Zimmer from the CCeH described the task as multifaceted and demanding: "There are always special cases to discover. This guarantees fun and it never gets boring. "

      The idea that digitizing his zettelkasten has many special cases is an indicator that the system morphed and grew as he used it. He likely settled into some specific uses over time, but it's likely that the overall shape is similar to other note taking forms, but he worked to make things fit his particular style.

  6. Sep 2021
    1. Jot down connections and tangential thoughts, underline key passages, and make a habit of building a dialogue with the author(s).

      Some people consider annotations to be a conversation with the author. But you're also having a conversation with yourself and your own thoughts. (Cross reference Niklas Luhmann's having a conversation with himself via his notes.)

      Further, there are platforms like Hypothes.is or social platforms like Twitter where you can move the conversation out of the page and engage with others. However, for this Hypothes.is has more power because it keeps the conversation linked to the original text and the original context (which I'll explicitly translate here as "with the text") to underline the point.

      cf:

      cum (Latin) : with

      textus (Latin) : tissue, web, texture, fabric, connection, language

      contextus (Latin) : context, connection, coherence, connexion, coherency, text

  7. Aug 2021
    1. The Zettelkasten methodology was developed by German Social Scientist Niklas Luhmann.

      Here again is another example indicating that Niklas Luhmann developed the idea instead of it having evolved over several hundred years from the commonplace book and becoming more specific with the wide adoption of index cards in society once mass manufacture was more easily available.

    1. I should perhaps also note that I try, whenever possible, not to collect raw quotes or information simply copied from the Internet or from books, but to write excerpts or summaries in my own words on the basis of my reading. Luhmann called this "reformulating writing" and argued that such an approach is most important for one's own intellectual life. But this idea is not a new discovery Luhmann made. In fact, the idea that excerpts should be used to keep on's research goes back to at least the Renaissance when people first began to make extensive excerpts on paper.

      This is also related to the ideas of invention as well as the analogy of the bee in relation to commonplaces. Link this to the bee analogy of Seneca the Younger and Macrobius in Saturnalia.

    2. I could quote Luhmann on this as well, who thought that "without writing one cannot think," But there is nothing peculiarly "Luhmannian" about this idea. Isaac Asimov is said to have said "Writing to me is simply thinking through my fingers." And, to give one other example, E. B. White (of "Strunk and White" fame) claimed that "writing is one way to go about thinking." In other words, writing is thinking. And since I do almost all my significant writing in ConnectedText these days, it might be called my "writing environment."

      Various quotes along the lines of "writing is thinking".

      What is the equivalent in oral societies? Memory is thinking?

    3. Indeed, Luhmann's system functions very much like a library, with the note cards corresponding to the books and the index corresponding to the subject catalogue.

      Useful analogy here.

      Similarly W. Ross Ashby had a set of commonplace books, but used a more traditional index card system to create his index.

    1. By the way, Luhmann's system is said to have had 35.000 cards. Jules Verne had 25.000. The sixteenth-century thinker Joachim Jungius is said to have had 150.000, and how many Leibniz had, we do not know, though we do know that he had one of the most ingenious piece of furniture for keeping his copious notes.

      Circa late 2011, he's positing Luhmann had 35,000 cards and not 90,000.

      Jules Verne used index cards. Joachim Jungius is said to have had 150,000 cards.

    2. Another reason is that it has influenced my thinking about these matters, since about 1999.

      Kuehn has been following Luhmann since 1999.

    3. Another theoretician of the index card system, the German sociologist Niklas Luhman, whose so-called "Zettelkasten" (slip-box) has achieved independent fame in Germany, used to talk about this first analytic step as "reduction for the sake of [building] complexity." [9]

      Luhmann used the idea of "one card, one fact" as the first step of "reduction for the sake of [building] complexity."

      Historically reducing things to their smallest essential form or building blocks makes it much easier to build up new complex things from them.

      Examples of this include:

      • Reducing numbers to binary 1 and 0
      • tk

      footnote:

      See Luhmann, Niklas (2000) Short Cuts. Edited by Peter Gente, Heidi Paris, Martin Weinmann. Frankfurt/Main: Zweitausendeins), p. 33.

    1. There are no privileged places in the note-card system, every card is as important as every other card, and no hierarchy is super-imposed on the system. The significance of each card depends on its relation to other cards (or the relation of other cards to it). It is a network; it is not "arboretic." Accordingly, it in some ways anticipates hypertext and the internet.

      Niklas Luhmann's zettelkasten system doesn't impose a heirarchy upon it's contents and in some ways its structure anticipates the ideas of hypertext and the internet's structure.

    2. Luhmann also described his system as his secondary memory (Zweitgedächtnis), alter ego, or his reading memory or (Lesegedächtnis).

      Stumbled back upon this article almost a year and change later. Great to see that I'm at least consistent in what I would highlight. ;)

    1. -It looks like the system is also very similar to Luhmann’s Zettelkasten. Though again, his discipline seems to exceed mine because I am a lot less ordered.

      Ryan Holiday on 2014-04-01 mentioning Niklas Luhmann and his Zettelkasten and linking to another article.

      Note he doesn't use the phrase commonplace book here, though the comments includes it.

  8. Jul 2021
    1. I like the idea of some of the research into education, pedagogy, and technology challenges here.

      Given the incredibly common and oft-repeated misconception which is included in the article ("But Zettelkasten was a very personal practice of Nicholas Luhmann, its inventor."), can we please correct the record?

      Niklas Luhmann positively DID NOT invent the concept of the Zettelkasten. It grew out of the commonplace book tradition in Western culture going back to Aristotle---if not earlier. In Germany it was practiced and morphed with the idea of the waste book or sudelbücher, which was popularized by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg or even re-arrangeable slips of paper used by countless others. From there it morphed again when index cards (whose invention has been attributed to Carl Linnaeus) were able to be mass manufactured in the early 1900s. A number of well-known users who predate Luhmann along with some general history and references can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zettelkasten.

      I suspect that most of the fallacy of Luhmann as the inventor stems from the majority of the early writing about Zettelkasten as a subject appears in German and hasn't been generally translated into English. What little is written about them in English has primarily focused on Luhmann and his output, so the presumption is made that he was the originator of the idea---a falsehood that has been repeated far and wide. This falsehood is also easier to believe because our culture is generally enamored with the mythology of the "lone genius" that managed Herculean feats of output. (We are also historically heavily prone to erase the work and efforts of research assistants, laboratory members, students, amanuenses, secretaries, friends, family, etc. which have traditionally helped writers and researchers in their output.)

      Anyone glancing at the commonplace tradition will realize that similar voluminous outputs were to be easily found among their practitioners as well, especially after their re-popularization by Desiderius Erasmus, Rodolphus Agricola, and Philip Melanchthon in the emergence of humanism in the 1500s. The benefit of this is that there is now a much richer area of research to be done with respect to these tools and the educational enterprise. One need not search very far to discover that Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau's output could potentially be attributed to their commonplace books, which were subsequently published. It was a widely accepted enough technique that it was taught to them at Harvard University when they attended. Apparently we're now all attempting to reinvent the wheel because there's a German buzzword that is somehow linguistically hiding our collective intellectual heritage. Maybe we should put these notes into our digital Zettelkasten (née commonplace books) and let them distill a bit?

      syndication link: https://browninterviews.org/suddenly-you-realize-that-your-house-is-not-equipped-with-a-water-hose-or-even-emergency-exit-we-are-not-prepared-for-e-learning-at-such-a-large-scale-brown-interviews-dr-jingjing-lin/#comment-637

    2. But Zettelkasten was a very personal practice of Nicholas Luhmann, its inventor.

      Another incorrect attribution to Luhmann being the originator of the zettelkasten. THIS IS INCORRECT PEOPLE.

    1. The presenter in the video has 70 notes across 3 months which is drastically lower than what I have.

      Somewhere I think I read that Luhmann only added about 6 cards a day to his zettelkasten. (I suspect they averaged his 90K output over the span of years he said he used it....)

      My fleeting note output right now is potentially too much, and I certainly should be spending more time refining and building on my (note-based) thoughts.

      It's not how many thoughts one has, but their quality and even more importantly, what one does with them.

      https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/jho1em/i_found_a_gem/

    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.

  9. 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)

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. Mar 2021
  13. 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.

  14. Jun 2020
    1. Anyway! Your only responsibility is to do stuff that’s actually in Japanese; the remainder of the responsibility rests entirely with the Japanese stuff — media — itself. The media has a responsibility to entertain you. You don’t have to find the value in it; it has to demonstrate its value to you by being so much fun that you don’t notice time going by — by sucking you in. It has to make you wish that eating and sleep and bodily hygiene could take care of themselves because they cut into your media time. And if it doesn’t do that or it stops doing that, then you “fire” it by changing to something else. You are the boss and there are no labor laws. Fire the mother. You do the work of setting up and showing up to the environment, but after that the environment must work for you.

      This strategy reminds me of Niklas Luhmann who allegedly said that he never did anything that he didn't feel like doing.

      This is like following your curiosity 100% and it goes against a lot of the other advice out there e.g. like sitting down every day and writing.

      This also reminds me of this idea of starting as many books as possible. Drop them when they're no longer interesting to you.

  15. Aug 2019
    1. The Theoretical Stuff on Note Taking & Zettelkasten Communicating with Slip Boxes by Niklas Luhmann http://luhmann.surge.sh/communicating-with-slip-boxes Luhmann on Learning How to Read https://takingnotenow.blogspot.de/2007/12/luhmann-on-learning-how-to-read.html C. Wright Mills, “On Intellectual Craftsmanship,” from The Sociological Imagination. Oxford University Press. 1960. https://archivingthecity.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/mills_on_intellctual_craftmanship.pdf The How-To Stuff on Note Taking & Zettelkasten Chapter 4, “The Work Plan and the Index Cards” in Umberto Eco, How to Write a Thesis
  16. Apr 2019