134 Matching Annotations
  1. Last 7 days
    1. https://bzawilski.medium.com/using-zettelkasten-and-obsidian-to-learn-more-effectively-333ac90d001a

      Facile overview article that touches on the basics but looses sight of the longer flow of history.

      Don't recommend.

    2. A lot of guru-esque figures have appeared in the personal knowledge management arena, but once you reach past some of the marketing bluster, there’s a lot to be gained by taking up a note-taking system to help organize your thoughts.

      Sadly this article takes the magical thinking/guru idea to the extreme and misses the longer tradition of these ideas in Western thought.

  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. Most of this is material I've seen or heard in other forms in the past. It's relatively well reviewed and summarized here though, but it's incredibly dense to try to pull out, unpack and actually use if one were coming to it as a something new.

      3 Productivity hacks

      • Zen Meditation (Zen Mind, Beginners Mind by Shunryū Suzuki
      • Research Process -- Annotations and notes, notecards
      • Rigorous exercise routine -- plateau effect

      The Zen meditation hack sounds much in the line of advice to often get away from what you're studing/researching and to let the ideas stew for a bit before coming back to them. It's the same principle as going for walks frequently heard from folks or being a flâneur. (cross reference Nassim Nicholas Taleb et al.) The other version of this that's similar are the diffuse modes of learning (compared with focused modes) described in learning theory. (Examples in work of Barbara Oakley and Terry Sejnowski in https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn)

      I've generally come to the idea that genius doesn't exist myself. Most of it distills down to use of tools like commonplace books.

      Perhaps worth looking into some of the following to see what, if anything, is different than prior version of the commonplace book tradition:

      The Ryan Holiday Notecard System @Intermittent Diversion - https://youtu.be/QoFZQOJ8aA0

      Article On Notecard System [1] https://medium.com/thrive-global/the-notecard-system-the-key-for-remembering-organizing-and-using-everything-you-read-4f48a82371b1 [2] https://www.writingroutines.com/notecard-system-ryan-holiday/ [3] https://www.gallaudet.edu/tutorial-and-instructional-programs/english-center/the-process-and-type-of-writing/pre-writing-writing-and-revising/the-note-card-system/

    1. Reminded by Connor of Mortimer Adler's Syntopicon. I'm pretty sure I've got it in my list of encyclopedias growing out of the commonplace book tradition, but... just in case.

      If I recall it was compiled using index cards, thus also placing it in the zettelkasten tradition.

      (via Almay)

      If you’re generalizing Zettelkasten to “All Non-Linear Knowledge Management Strategies” You should include Mortimer Adler and the Syntopicon, and John Locke’s guide to how to set up a commonplace book<br><br>This isn’t a game of calling “dibs”<br><br>it’s about 🧠👶shttps://t.co/sH3JO6d9Jq

      — Conor White-Sullivan 𐃏🇸🇻 (@Conaw) July 8, 2021
      <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

    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.)

    2. Would love links to any descriptions of the systems used by Conrad Gessner (1516-1565) or Johann Jacob Moser (1701–1785)

      I'm only halfway down the rabbit hole on some of these sources myself, a task made harder by my lack of facility with German. I am reasonably positive that the Gessner and Moser references are going to spring directly out of the commonplace book tradition, but include some of the innovation of having notes on slips of paper so that they're more easily re-arranged.

      I'm also sitting on a huge trove of unpublished research which provides a lot more evidence and a trail of context which is missing from the short provocative statement I've made. I've added a few snippets to the Wikipedia page on Zettelkasten which outlines pieces for the curious.

      I suspect soon enough I'll have a handful of journal articles and/or a book to cover some of the more modern history of notes and note taking that picks up where Earle Havens' Commonplace Books: A History of Manuscripts and Printed Books from Antiquity to the Twentieth Century (Yale, 2001) leaves off.

    1. One thing expected from the note-taking tools, makes me particularly skeptical: their collaborative/ public use. I think the lifecycle of notes cannot be continuous from capturing to communication, unless I forgo the possibility of cryptic, sloppy, abbreviated shorthand meant just for the “me later” that Magdalena Böttger depicted so aptly in 2005.

      Some of the value of notes being done and readable in public means that one typically puts a bit more effort into them at the start. This can make them much more useful and valuable later on. It also means that they usually have more substance and context for use by others in collaboration or other reuses.

      Short notes are often called fleeting notes which may or may not be processed into something more substantive. The ones that do become more substantive can more easily be reused in other future settings.

      Sonke Ahrens' book How to Take Smart Notes is one of the better arguments for the why and how of note taking.

    1. The 8 Steps of Taking Smart Notes Ahrens recommends the following 8 steps for taking notes: Make fleeting notes Make literature notes Make permanent notes Now add your new permanent notes to the slip-box Develop your topics, questions and research projects bottom up from within the slip-box Decide on a topic to write about from within the slip-box Turn your notes into a rough draft Edit and proofread your manuscript He notes that Luhmann actually had two slip-boxes: the first was the “bibliographical” slip-box, which contained brief notes on the content of the literature he read along with a citation of the source; the second “main” slip-box contained the ideas and theories he developed based on those sources. Both were wooden boxes containing paper index cards.  Luhmann distinguished between three kinds of notes that went into his slip-boxes: fleeting notes, literature notes, and permanent notes.  1. Make fleeting notes Fleeting notes are quick, informal notes on any thought or idea that pops into your mind. They don’t need to be highly organized, and in fact shouldn’t be. They are not meant to capture an idea in full detail, but serve more as reminders of what is in your head. 2. Make literature notes The second type of note is known as a “literature note.” As he read, Luhmann would write down on index cards the main points he didn’t want to forget or that he thought he could use in his own writing, with the bibliographic details on the back.  Ahrens offers four guidelines in creating literature notes: Be extremely selective in what you decide to keep Keep the overall note as short as possible Use your own words, instead of copying quotes verbatim Write down the bibliographic details on the source 3. Make permanent notes Permanent notes are the third type of note, and make up the long-term knowledge that give the slip-box its value. This step starts with looking through the first two kinds of notes that you’ve created: fleeting notes and literature notes. Ahrens recommends doing this about once a day, before you completely forget what they contain. As you go through them, think about how they relate to your research, current thinking, or interests. The goal is not just to collect ideas, but to develop arguments and discussions over time. If you need help jogging your memory, simply look at the existing topics in your slip-box, since it already contains only things that interest you.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you turn fleeting and literature notes into permanent notes: How does the new information contradict, correct, support, or add to what I already know? How can I combine ideas to generate something new? What questions are triggered by these new ideas? As answers to these questions come to mind, write down each new idea, comment, or thought on its own note. If writing on paper, only write on one side, so you can quickly review your notes without having to flip them over. Write these permanent notes as if you are writing for someone else. That is, use full sentences, disclose your sources, make explicit references, and try to be as precise and brief as possible.  Once this step is done, throw away (or delete) the fleeting notes from step one and file the literature notes from step two into your bibliographic slip-box. 4. Add your permanent notes to the slip-box It’s now time to add the permanent notes you’ve created to your slip-box. Do this by filing each note behind a related note (if it doesn’t relate to any existing notes, add it to the very end). Optionally, you can also: Add links to (and from) related notes Adding it to an “index” – a special kind of note that serves as a “table of contents” and entry point for an important topic, including a sorted collection of links on the topic Each of the above methods is a way of creating an internal pathway through your slip-box. Like hyperlinks on a website, they give you many ways to associate ideas with each other. By following the links, you encounter new and different perspectives than where you started. Luhmann wrote his notes with great care, not much different from his style in the final manuscript. More often than not, new notes would become part of existing strands of thought. He would add links to other notes both close by, and in distantly related fields. Rarely would a note stay in isolation. 5. Develop your topics, questions, and research projects bottom up from within the slip-box With so many standardized notes organized in a consistent format, you are now free to develop ideas in a “bottom up” way. See what is there, what is missing, and which questions arise. Look for gaps that you can fill through further reading. If and when needed, another special kind of note you can create is an “overview” note. These notes provide a “bird’s eye view” of a topic that has already been developed to such an extent that a big picture view is needed. Overview notes help to structure your thoughts and can be seen as an in-between step in the development of a manuscript. 6. Decide on a topic to write about from within the slip-box Instead of coming up with a topic or thesis upfront, you can just look into your slip-box and look for what is most interesting. Your writing will be based on what you already have, not on an unfounded guess about what the literature you are about to read might contain. Follow the connections between notes and collect all the relevant notes on the topic you’ve found. 7. Turn your notes into a rough draft Don’t simply copy your notes into a manuscript. Translate them into something coherent and embed them into the context of your argument. As you detect holes in your argument, fill them or change the argument. 8. Edit and proofread your manuscript From this point forward, all you have to do is refine your rough draft until it’s ready to be published. This process of creating notes and making connections shouldn’t be seen as merely maintenance. The search for meaningful connections is a crucial part of the thinking process. Instead of figuratively searching our memories, we literally go through the slip-box and form concrete links. By working with actual notes, we ensure that our thinking is rooted in a network of facts, thought-through ideas, and verifiable references.

      This is the most important part of the whole article and worth coming back to time and time again.

    1. Synapsen, a digital card index by Markus Krajewski


      <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>Goodreads</span> in Markus Krajewski (Author of Paper Machines) | Goodreads (<time class='dt-published'>07/04/2021 00:22:32</time>)</cite></small>

    1. according to Charmantier and Müller-Wille, playing cards were found under the floorboards of the Uppsala home Linnaeus shared with his wife Sara Lisa.
    2. Linnaeus may have drawn inspiration from playing cards. Until the mid-19th century, the backs of playing cards were left blank by manufacturers, offering “a practical writing surface,” where scholars scribbled notes, says Blair. Playing cards “were frequently used as lottery tickets, marriage and death announcements, notepads, or business cards,” explains Markus Krajewski, the author of Paper Machines: About Cards and Catalogs.

      There was a Krajewski reference I couldn't figure out in the German piece on Zettelkasten that I read earlier today. Perhaps this is what was meant?

      These playing cards might also have been used as an idea of a waste book as well, and then someone decided to skip the commonplace book as an intermediary?

    1. This system was invented by Carl Linnaeus,[1] around 1760.

      How is it not so surprising that Carl Linnaeus, the creator of a huge taxonomic system, also came up with the idea for index cards in 1760.

      How does this fit into the history of the commonplace book and information management? Relationship to the idea of a zettelkasten?

    1. This bucket’s for you and for you alone. It’s your idiosyncratic partner in knowledge work. Your second brain. Your extended memory and your better self.

      Note the use here of "second brain" written in 2013 before Tiago Forte's use of the idea.

    2. Irritation: basically, without surprise or disappointment there’s no information. Both partners have to be surprised in some way to say communication takes place.

      This is a basic tenet of information theory. Interesting to see it appear in a work on writing.

    3. From Wikipedia I got the info about Nabokov. Jean Paul’s 1796 narration Leben des Quintus Fixlein is subtitled “aus funfzehn Zettelkästen gezogen; nebst einem Mustheil und einigen Jus de tablette” (literally: drawn from fifteen card indexes). Arno Schmidt’s so-called “book” Zettels Traum (roughly “index card’s dream”) looks like the collage it really is. You should just take a look at Zettels Traum and see for yourself! 

      Some interesting examples here. Hadn't known about Nabokov. I knew of Schmidt, but not the title or subject of this particular book.

    1. Dafür spricht das Credo des Literaten Walter Benjamin: Und heute schon ist das Buch, wie die aktuelle wissenschaftliche Produktionsweise lehrt, eine veraltete Vermittlung zwischen zwei verschiedenen Kartotheksystemen. Denn alles Wesentliche findet sich im Zettelkasten des Forschers, der's verfaßte, und der Gelehrte, der darin studiert, assimiliert es seiner eigenen Kartothek.

      The credo of the writer Walter Benjamin speaks for this:

      And today, as the current scientific method of production teaches, the book is an outdated mediation between two different card index systems. Because everything essential is to be found in the slip box of the researcher who wrote it, and the scholar who studies it assimilates it in his own card index.

      Here's an early instantiation of thoughts being put down into data which can be copied from one card to the next as a means of creation.

      A similar idea was held in the commonplace book tradition, in general, but this feels much more specific in the lead up to the idea of the Memex.

    2. Mit der Normierung von Karteikarten für die Karteikästen eigener Fabrikation machte Dewey sich um die Weiterentwicklung der Verzettelungstechniken verdient, ohne etwas damit zu verdienen. Um den ökonomischen Ruin zu verhindern, stellte das Library Bureau im Jahr 1888 die eigene Buchführung vom traditionellen Verbuchungssystem auf das schnellere und kostengünstigere System des "card index" um. Der "Technologietransfer zwischen Bibliothek und Büro" (Krajewski), nämlich die Buchführung in Zettelkästen, wird ein Erfolgsschlager: Banken und Versicherungen, Stahl- und Eisenbahnunternehmen übernehmen das Karteisystem und damit auch die Karteikästen von Deweys Firma.

      With the standardization of index cards for the filing boxes of his own manufacture, Dewey earned himself the further development of the routing techniques without earning anything with it. In order to prevent economic ruin, the Library Bureau switched its own bookkeeping from the traditional accounting system to the faster and more cost-effective system of the "card index" in 1888. The "technology transfer between library and office" (Krajewski), namely bookkeeping in card boxes, is a hit: banks and insurance companies, steel and railway companies take over the card system and thus also the card boxes from Dewey's company.

      This is a fascinating way of making one's product indispensable. Talk about self-dogfooding!

      Sounds similar to the way that some chat messaging productivity apps were born (Slack was this way?). The company needed a better way to communicate internally and so built it's own chat system which they sold to others.

    3. Der Josephinische Katalog enthielt am Ende inklusive eines ausgefeilten Verweissystems ca. 300.000 Zettel. Dass er aber als erster Zettelkatalog Bibliotheksgeschichte schrieb, lag eher an einem Fehler im Programm. Eigentlich hätten nämlich nach van Swietens Vorstellungen am Ende des Vorgangs alle bibliographischen Angaben von den Zetteln in einen Bandkatalog übertragen werden sollen. Der Grund für diesen Programmierfehler bestand in ökonomischem Kalkül: Der geplante Katalog hätte gut und gerne 50 bis 60 Folio-Bände umfasst und wäre doch kurz nach Fertigstellung schon wieder veraltet gewesen. Darum wurden die Wiener Zettelkästen zur ersten relationalen Suchmaschine mit Erweiterungsfunktion.

      At the end of the Josephine catalog, including a sophisticated system of references, it contained around 300,000 pieces of paper. The fact that he was the first card catalog to write library history was more due to a bug in the program. Actually, according to [Gottfried Freiherr] van Swieten's ideas, at the end of the process all bibliographical information should have been transferred from the slips of paper to a volume catalog. The reason for this programming error was an economic calculation: the planned catalog would have easily comprised 50 to 60 folio volumes and would have been out of date shortly after completion. That is why the Vienna Zettelkästen became the first relational search engine with an expansion function.

      Description of the invention of the first library card catalog?

    4. Der Gelehrte griff bei der Wissensproduktion nur noch auf den flüchtigen Speicher der Exzerptsammlungen zurück, die die loci communes enthielten: die "Gemeinplätze", die wir auch heute sprichwörtlich noch so nennen. Gesner nannte diese Sammlungen "chartaceos libros", also Karteibücher. Er erfand ein eigenes Verfahren, mit dem die einzelnen Notate jederzeit derangierbar und damit auch neu arrangierbar waren, um der Informationsflut Rechnung zu tragen und ständig neue Einträge hinzugefügen zu können. "Du weißt, wie leicht es ist, Fakten zu sammeln, und wie schwer, sie zu ordnen", schrieb der Basler Gelehrte Caspar Wolf, der Herausgeber der Werke Gesners.

      For the production of knowledge, the scholar only resorted to the volatile memory of the excerpt collections, the [[loci communes]] contained: the "platitudes" that we still literally call that today. Gesner called these collections "chartaceos libros", that is, index books. He invented his own method with which the individual notes could be rearranged at any time and thus rearranged in order to take account of the flood of information and to be able to constantly add new entries. "You know how easy it is to collect facts and how difficult it is to organize them," wrote the Basel scholar [[Caspar Wolf]], editor of Gesner's works.

      Is this translation of platitudes correct/appropriate here? Maybe aphorisms or the Latin sententiae (written wisdom) are better?

      I'd like to look more closely at his method. Was he, like Jean Paul, using slips of paper which he could move around within a particular book? Perhaps the way one might move photos around in a photo album with tape/adhesive?

    5. als deren Meister sich sein Zeitgenosse Johann Jacob Moser (1701-1785) erwies. Die Verzettelungstechnik des schwäbischen Juristen und Schriftstellers ist ein nachdrücklicher Beleg dafür, wie man allein durch Umadressierung aus den Exzerpten alter Bücher neue machen kann. Seine auf über 500 Titel veranschlagte Publikationsliste hätte Moser nach eigenem Bekunden ohne das von ihm geschaffene Hilfsmittel nicht bewerkstelligen können. Moser war auch einer der ersten Theoretiker des Zettelkastens. Unter der Überschrift "Meine Art, Materialien zu künfftigen Schrifften zu sammlen" hat er selbst die Algorithmen beschrieben, mit deren Hilfe er seine "Zettelkästgen" füllte.

      the master of which his contemporary Johann Jacob Moser (1701-1785) proved to be. The technique used by the Swabian lawyer and writer to scramble is emphatic evidence of how you can turn excerpts from old books into new ones just by re-addressing them. According to his own admission, Moser would not have been able to manage his publication list, which is estimated at over 500 titles, without the aid he had created. Moser was also one of the first theorists of the card box. Under the heading "My way of collecting materials for future writings", he himself described the algorithms with which he filled his "card boxes".

      Johann Jacob Moser was a commonplace book keeper who referenced his system as a means of inventio. He wrote about how he collected material for future writing and described the ways in which he filled his "card boxes".

      I'm curious what his exact method was and if it could be called an early precursor of the zettelkasten?

    6. Dabei stellt die Verzettelungstechnik die vermutlich mächtigste Verwaltungstechnologie des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts dar, die das Bürowesen ebenso revolutioniert hat wie die Bibliotheksverwaltung und als Mindmapping- und Kreativitätswerkzeug an der Wiege einiger der bedeutendsten literarischen und wissenschaftlichen Werke stand.

      The [note box or card catalog] framing technology is probably the most powerful administrative technology of the 19th and 20th centuries, which revolutionized the office system as well as library management and, as a mind mapping and creativity tool, was the cradle of some of the most important literary and scientific works.

      The card catalog/index card are one of the most important information technologies of the 19th century.

    1. Revisiting this essay to review it in the framing of digital gardens.

      In a "gardens and streams" version of this metaphor, the stream is flow and the garden is stock.

      This also fits into a knowledge capture, growth, and innovation framing. The stream are small atomic ideas flowing by which may create new atomic ideas. These then need to be collected (in a garden) where they can be nurtured and grow into new things.

      Clippings of these new growth can be placed back into the stream to move on to other gardeners. Clever gardeners will also occasionally browse through the gardens of others to see bigger picture versions of how their gardens might become.

      Proper commonplacing is about both stock and flow. The unwritten rule is that one needs to link together ideas and expand them in places either within the commonplace or external to it: essays, papers, articles, books, or other larger structures which then become stock for others.

      While some creators appear to be about all stock in the modern era, it's just not true. They're consuming streams (flow) from other (perhaps richer) sources (like articles, books, television rather than social media) and building up their own stock in more private (or at least not public) places. Then they release that article, book, film, television show which becomes content stream for others.

      While we can choose to create public streams, but spending our time in other less information dense steams is less useful. Better is to keep a reasonably curated stream to see which other gardens to go visit.

      Currently is the online media space we have structures like microblogs and blogs (and most social media in general) which are reasonably good at creating streams (flow) and blogs, static sites, and wikis which are good for creating gardens (stock).

      What we're missing is a structure with the appropriate and attendant UI that can help us create both a garden and a stream simultaneously. It would be nice to have a wiki with a steam-like feed out for the smaller attendant ideas, but still allow the evolutionary building of bigger structures, which could also be placed into the stream at occasional times.

      I can imagine something like a MediaWiki with UI for placing small note-like ideas into other streams like Twitter, but which supports Webmention so that ideas that come back from Twitter or other consumers of one's stream can be placed into one's garden. Perhaps in a Zettelkasten like way, one could collect atomic notes into their wiki and then transclude those ideas into larger paragraphs and essays within the same wiki on other pages which might then become articles, books, videos, audio, etc.

      Obsidian, Roam Research do a somewhat reasonable job on the private side and have some facility for collecting data, but have no UI for sharing out into streams.

    1. While not referred to specifically as Zettelkasten by their non-German speaking users, there is a tradition of keeping similar notes in a commonplace book-like tradition in other countries. American comedians Phyllis Diller (with 52,000 3x5 inch index cards)[10] [11], Joan Rivers (over a million 3x5 inch index cards)[12], Bob Hope (85,000 pages in files)[13], and George Carlin (paper notes in folders)[14] were known for keeping joke or gag files throughout their careers. They often compiled their notes from scraps of paper, receipts, laundry lists, and matchbooks which served the function of waste books.

      While not referred to specifically as Zettelkasten by their non-German speaking users, there is a tradition of keeping similar notes in a commonplace book-like tradition in other countries. American comedians Phyllis Diller (with 52,000 3x5 inch index cards)[10] [11], Joan Rivers (over a million 3x5 inch index cards)[12], Bob Hope (85,000 pages in files)[13], and George Carlin (paper notes in folders)[14] were known for keeping joke or gag files throughout their careers. They often compiled their notes from scraps of paper, receipts, laundry lists, and matchbooks which served the function of waste books.

    1. Phyllis Diller’s groundbreaking career as a stand-up comic spanned almost 50 years. Throughout her career she used a gag file to organize her material. Diller’s gag file consists of a steel cabinet with 48 drawers (along with a 3 drawer expansion) containing over 52,000 3-by-5 inch index cards, each holding a typewritten joke or gag. These index cards are organized alphabetically by subject, ranging from accessories to world affairs and covering almost everything in between.

      Comedian Phyllis Diller collected over 52,000 3x5" index cards in a gag file. Each card contained a typewritten joke or gag of some sort which she organized alphabetically by subject.

    1. "I always get my jokes down on pieces of paper right away—backs of matchbos, whatever. No one is allowed to throw a piece of paper out in my house, because on the back of a laundry list there may be a joke."

      For Joan Rivers scraps of paper, receipts, laundry lists, and matchbooks served the function as waste books. She would eventually transfer them to 3x5" index cards using a typewriter.

    2. For the past thirty-some years, Rivers has been filing each and every joke she's written (at this point she's amassed over a million) in a library-esque card cabinet housed in her Upper East Side apartment. The jokes—most typed up on three-by-five cards—are meticulously arranged by subject, which Rivers admits is the hardest part of organizing: "Does this one go under ugly or does it go under dumb?"

      Joan Rivers kept a Zettelkasten of jokes in her Upper East Side apartment. They spanned over thirty years and over a million items, most of them typed on 3"x5" index cards and carefully arranged by subject.

    1. The jokes included in the final script, as well as jokes not used, were categorized by subject matter and filed in cabinets in a fire- and theft-proof walk-in vault in an office next to his residence in North Hollywood, California. Bob Hope could then consult this “Joke File,” his personal cache of comedy, to create monologs for live appearances or television and radio programs. The complete Bob Hope Joke File—more than 85,000 pages—has been digitally scanned and indexed according to the categories used by Bob Hope for presentation in the Bob Hope Gallery of American Entertainment.

      Bob Hope's joke file of over 85,000 pages represents a massive commonplace book of comedy.

    1. Over time, Carlin formalized that system: paper scraps with words or phrases would each receive a category, usually noted in a different color at the top of the paper, and then periodically those scraps would be gathered into plastic bags by category, and then those bags would go into file folders. Though he would later begin using a computer to keep track of those ideas, the basic principle of find-ability remained. “That’s how he built this collection of independent ideas that he was able to cross-reference and start to build larger routines from,” Heftel explains.

      George Carlin's process of collecting and collating his material. His plastic bags by category were similar to the concept of waste books to quickly collect information (similar to the idea of fleeting notes). He later placed them into file folders (an iteration on the Zettelkasten using file folders of papers instead of index cards).

    1. In the documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, the comedian showed off a similar “joke bank”: For the past thirty-some years, Rivers has been filing each and every joke she’s written (at this point she’s amassed over a million) in a library-esque card cabinet housed in her Upper East Side apartment. The jokes—most typed up on three-by-five cards—are meticulously arranged by subject, which Rivers admits is the hardest part of organizing: “Does this one go under ugly or does it go under dumb?”

      another example of a joke Zettelkasten!

    2. Comedian Phyllis Diller had “gag file,” which is now housed at The Smithsonian: Phyllis Diller’s groundbreaking career as a stand-up comic spanned almost 50 years. Throughout her career she used a gag file to organize her material. Diller’s gag file consists of a steel cabinet with 48 drawers (along with a 3 drawer expansion) containing over 52,000 3-by-5 inch index cards, each holding a typewritten joke or gag.

      A Zettelkasten for jokes!

    1. Alan Jacobs seems to be delving into the area of thought spaces provided by blogs and blogging.

      In my view, they come out of a cultural tradition of commonplace books becoming digital and more social in the the modern era. Jacobs is obviously aware of the idea of Zettelkasten, but possibly hasn't come across the Sonke Ahrens' book on smart notes or the conceptualization of the "digital garden" stemming from Mike Caulfield's work.

      He's also acquainted with Robin Sloane, though it's unclear if he's aware of the idea of Stock and Flow.

  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)

    1. Synopsis of two different methods for creating a Zettelkasten in Roam Research:

      • page based method
      • block reference method

      Nothing earth shattering here, though one must wonder about import/export of notes into other potential useful systems.

      Nothing dramatically new here.

    1. The introduction could use a referrent to prior examples across history from commonplace books, florilegium, waste books, etc. This general idea has been used for centuries (and is even seen in oral societies before literacy).

      Including a few examples of people who've used the method/ideas before and how it was successful for them could be both useful as well as highly motivating.

    1. As a spiritual principle of order, card boxes show the inner physiognomy of their owners

      Zettelkasten and commonplace books are able to show a bit of the character of their creators in physical form.

    2. Jean Paul, who can be considered the poetic father of cardboard box technology and celebrates his 250th birthday on March 21, Arno Schmidt and Walter Kempowski , Hans Blumenberg, Friedrich Kittler, Niklas Luhmann and Aby Warburg

      a list of Zettelkasten users who were well known. Many of them were writers or researchers professionally.

    1. More history here on the page than I would have thought.

      Definitely worth digging into some of the older examples going back to [[Conrad Gessner]] and [[Johann Jacob Moser]].

  4. May 2021
    1. he is focusing on the tensions that what he read causes with other things he knows and has read. He’s not just lifting things out that chime with him, but the things that cause friction. Because in that friction lies the potential of learning.

      Dissonance of juxtaposed ideas, and particularly those just at the edge of chaos, can be some of the most fruitful places for learning.

      Attempting to resolve these frictions can generate new knowledge.

      This is what commonplace books are meant to do. Record this knowledge, allow one to juxtapose, and to think and write into new spaces.

      It's also important to look more closely at things that don't cause dissonance. Is it general wisdom that makes them true or seem true? Question the assumptions underneath them. Where do they come from? Why do they seem comfortable? How could one make them uncomfortable. Questioning assumptions can lead to new pathways.

      An example of this is the questioning the final assumption of Euclid (the "ugly" one) which led mathematicians into different geometry systems.

    1. That’s how blogging is complimentary to other forms of more serious work: when you’ve done enough of it, you can get entire essays, speeches, stories, novels, spontaneously appearing in a state of near-completeness, ready to be written.

      This sounds a lot like the Zettelkasten method. If writing is your default mode, writing complex pieces is just making concrete an organization of things that were already formalized in your mind

    1. One of the toughest parts of note taking systems can be moving from one to another, particularly digital ones, as the technical overhead is almost never easy and typically requires a huge amount of work. Wouter's description here may seem facile, but I'm sure it wasn't simple, not to mention the fact that he's got more facility with coding than the average person ever will.

      I do like the idea of basic text or markdown files that can be used in a variety of settings with relatively easy wiki mark up.

      Of the systems I've seen, this seems to be the most portable format, but it also requires software that supports it at the base level, but which still provides search and other useful functionalities.

    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. Ulisse Aldrovandi, the great Bolognese natural philosopher and collector of specimens (such as the large lizards that adorn his university library museum), wrote four hundred volumes of manuscript notes. Joachim Jungius, a German professor of mathematics, medicine, logic, and natural philosophy, was famous for having produced an estimated 150,000 pages of notes. But as Blair makes clear, the vast collections of scientific notes were not simply the mad scratchings of obsessive pedants. Commonplace notes comprised the data for internationally successful scientific works, such as Jean Bodin’s Universae naturae theatrum.

      Examples of significant collections of notes.

    1. “He who hasn’t lost anything in his head can’t find anything in there either,” Lichtenberg joyfully declared (a few days after praising the word ‘nonsense’ over weightier notions such as ‘chaos’ or ‘eternity’).
    2. 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.

    3. Markus Krajewski reminds us that Luhmann’s choice of interlocutor has a precedent in an 1805 piece by the novelist Heinrich von Kleist (see the chapter “Paper as Passion” in this collection).

      precedents for zettelkasten

    4. Lichtenberg’s quips: “Oh how many ideas aren’t hovering dispersed in my head! Quite a few pairs among those could provoke the greatest discovery if only they came together. But isolated from one another they lie, just like the sulphur from the city of Goslar lies isolated from East Indian nitre and from Oaksfield coal dust when jointly they could produce gunpowder!”

      Lichtenberg teasing around the idea of combinatorial creativity.

    5. The novelist and storyteller Jean Paul assembled some 12,000 paper scraps over the course of his lifetime, but died in 1825, well before the advent of standardized box systems that made it convenient and easy to store such multitudes of paper slips, as well as to realize what remained a dream to Paul: the dream of a more complex order between the paper scraps than that imposed by the linear arrangement of the written page.

      Another example of a sizeable zettelkasten prior to 1825.

    1. Markus Krajewski reminds us that Luhmann’s choice of interlocutor has a precedent in an 1805 piece by the novelist Heinrich von Kleist (see the chapter “Paper as Passion” in this collection).

      <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>Daniela K. Helbig </span> in  Ruminant machines: a twentieth-century episode in the material history of ideas - JHI Blog (<time class='dt-published'>05/12/2021 21:27:02</time>)</cite></small>

    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. gordonbrander.com gordonbrander.com
    1. There are rumors Pascal wrote the Pensées on notecards, and pinned these cards to a wall, connecting related thoughts with yarn. An early example of hypertext?

      This certainly fits into the broad general ideas surrounding note taking, commonplace books, and zettelkasten as tools for thought. People generally seemed to have used relatively similar methods but shoehorned them into the available tools they had at the time.

      This also, incidentally isn't too far off from how indigenous peoples the world over have used memory techniques (memory palaces, songlines, etc.) to hold together and pollinate their own thinking.

      Raymond Llull took things a step further with his combinatoric methods, though I've yet to see anyone attempting that in the area of digital gardens.

  6. Apr 2021
    1. I’m resisting the temptation to add bibliographical cards into the Obsidian vault. Niklas Luhmann, you may recall, had a set of cards in his zettelkasten that were source citations. I don’t get the impression from reading his descriptions of his process or Schmidt’s research into it, that these were really an active part of the network of ideas in the boxes, which seem to have been based on his digested reactions to sources.

      I've done some bibliographical cards in the past myself, but find that I never used or revisited them or had great need to have them crosslinked myself. I've been moving away from doing this as well.

    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. Goal, is to figure out if I can do this with Notion.

      The zettel is the smallest unit, a note entered into the system. It requires a unique identifier, the body/content for the note, and footer/references.

      Actively include citations to other Zettels.

      Two types of structures depicted graphically

    2. To make the most of a connection, always state explicitly why you made it. This is the link context. An example link context looks like this:

      So ACTIVELY include the equivalent of citations to other ZETTELS.

    3. The most important aspect of the body of the Zettel is that you write it in your own words. There is nothing wrong with capturing a verbatim quote on top. But one of the core rules to make the Zettelkasten work for you is to use your own words, instead of just copying and pasting something you believe is useful or insightful. This forces you to at least create a different version of it, your own version. This is one of the steps that lead to increased understanding of the material, and it improves recall of the information you process. Your Zettelkasten will truly be your own if its content is yours and not just a bunch of thoughts of other people.

      If you enter the content in your own words you take active ownership. Also, as a grad student, you don't want the extra work of not only finding the reference you'd like to allude to but additionally having to rephrase it at the time of writing a paper or book.

    4. A Zettelkasten is a personal tool for thinking and writing. It has hypertextual features to make a web of thought possible. The difference to other systems is that you create a web of thoughts instead of notes of arbitrary size and form, and emphasize connection, not a collection


    1. Communicating with Slip Boxes An Empirical Account Niklas Luhmann

      Manual for the Zettelkasten method from the man himself.

    1. The Fleeting Notes is a capture of your mind wanderings while reading. To do this, we need to get prepped. Every time you sit down to read, make sure you have a notepad or way of capturing your thoughts. This is about bringing YOU to the dialogue. This is where the gold is. Personally, I used to beat myself up for my mind wandering when I listened to podcasts or read books but it is a design feature, not a fault.

      Steve Brophy on the idea of fleeting notes

    1. Literature notes are our understanding of the prose we are reading. In our own words. This is extremely important. Elaboration, aka putting the author's words into our own, is one of the most scientifically valid methods of learning. We connect the author's intention with our own understanding and through the process of rewording, we engage actively with the content. It is the workout our brains need to develop the neural pathways to build new learning.

      Steve Brophy on the idea of literature notes

    1. A Permanent note is what lives in our Zettelkasten. It is a declarative statement that captures the dialogue we have had with the author. It is our own declarative statement. It is a conversation we are interested in pursuing.

      Steve Brophy on the idea of a 'permanent note'

    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.

  7. Mar 2021
    1. Platforms like Hypothes.is, which afford social and collaborative web annotation, demonstrate the ease with which authors and their audience can create a sociotechnical milieu to share thinking in progress, voice wonder, and rehearse informal dispositions in service of publication.

      I personally identify with this since I'm porting my annotations and thoughts to a notebook as part of a process for active thinking, revision, writing, and eventual publication.

  8. Feb 2021
    1. In academia it’s critical to have a system that allows us to read and mine important ideas from papers into your vault as efficiently as possible. My method has continued to evolve and I’m finding it more efficient now. In a nutshell, I’m now adding the one-sentence summaries to highlights as I’m reading (and the tags where possible). This means I don’t need to read the source more than once; instead I’m processing them as I’m reading because that’s when I discover them as important points in the first place. I then bring them into Obsidian in a single note per paper/source. I title each note Surname, date (e.g., Smith, 2018). It’ll make sense why in a moment. Each idea within the note is structured like this: One-sentence summary of idea | Original idea in the author’s words (Reference, date, page number). T: #tags #go #here C: Any connections to other notes or ideas - not necessary to include for every idea but it’s useful to think of connections where possible If you structure all the notes this way, it means you can then add the ideas straight into your index with transclusion without needing to create any additional notes (in the past I created a new evergreen note for each idea). An example of a transcluded idea to pop into your index would be like this: ![[Smith, 2018#One-sentence summary of idea]] This allows you to see the source and the summary of the note in edit mode and just that idea transcluded from your note page in the preview mode. I have another approach for actually turning those ideas into publications, but this is the main approach for processing notes into my index. There may be even more efficient ways to do this. The key I think is being able to process ideas into your vault as quickly as possible while still tagging and making connections to help with later retrieval of ideas. Since changing to this approach I’ve written a couple of book chapters with very little cognitive strain and I’m reading more than in the past (it’s addictive because every paper has the potential to be used to level up your knowledge base). Hope this is somewhat helpful to others. The evolution will undoubtedly continue. I know there are awesome examples of how to do all kinds of things in Obsidian but all I’m really aiming for is being more productive in my academic role. The rest is all interesting but additional to my main purpose for this wonderful app.

      Another great synopsis of useful tips in using Obsidian for research.

      The idea of using the general form ![[Smith, 2018#One-sentence summary of idea]] can be particularly powerful for aggregating smaller ideas up into a longer work.

    2. I’m an Australian academic in the field of education. I read the How to take smart notes book and a couple of Luhmann’s articles which were translated into English. I also would recommend looking at the writing of Andy Matuschak on how to label your notes, what to include in them, and so on. Here’s the process I’ve come up with (which continues to evolve): Initial highlighting: Read journal article via Zotero. Highlight the parts that are relevant to you using the default PDF viewer on your computer. Use Zotfile to extract the highlights (and any notes) in Zotero, then paste them into Obsidian in a new note. I have a template I copy and paste to start each new highlight note with relevant details like the author names, date of publication and so on before the highlights. Refine highlights: Look through your highlights from the article and use the Obsidian highlighting feature (==like this==) to pinpoint what’s valuable in each highlight. This makes it easier to complete the next step, particularly if it’s a long paper or you have to come back to it. Skip if necessary. Process highlights into literature notes: Summarise the highlights into your own words. Add any personal insights. Each literature note should relate to one idea. I do this directly above the highlight notes using bullet points and a L - for literature notes and a H - for highlight notes. Try to write the literature note as if it was part of a journal article. Add a label to each literature note: Above each literature note, I add a label, which should be the briefest possible summary of the literature note. Have this label inside double square brackets. Avoid labels like “Definition of X”. Instead, write “X is y and z”. Try to be specific. I mainly use the bracket links in this way. An example label might be [[E - X is y and z]]. I use E - because it will soon be an evergreen note. Add each label to an index: The index will be a long list of all your literature note labels. Categorise the labels in a logical manner. Create evergreen notes: Click the label (which is a link to a new note) and copy/paste the literature note text (which will be quite short) into this new evergreen note. Add connections to other notes categorised in the same place in your index plus any other relevant evergreen notes. Add relevant tags. The index may not be overly important in the long run, but it definitely helps at this point with connection making. I also add the reference details at the bottom of each evergreen note. Next it’s time to create your paper. 7a. (Top down approach) Create journal article outline: Create an outline for your article, chapter, application, or whatever you’re working on. You can make a quick template with the relevant stages of the genre (e.g. introduction, literature review, and so on). Then, drag relevant evergreen notes into the sections. You’ll need to massage the gaps between notes to make it cohesive. If you use a note, add a tag to say so. You’ll need to reword the note if you use it again in another paper to avoid self-plagiarism. 7b. (Bottom up approach) Add evergreen notes to papers: Instead of starting with a paper outline, you might look at your notes in the index and consider what kind of interesting questions they might help you answer, then build your paper from there. I hope someone out there finds all this useful. One of the best things I’ve done is create a note called master production line which includes these numbered steps as headings, and then I can add my highlight notes as they’re created and move them down the production line as they’re processed. I also organise them in certain steps (like 2 and 3) as high, medium and low priority. It means you never lose track of notes and there’s always something you could be working on. The bit I’m still figuring out is the last step: how to go from evergreen notes to paper drafts as efficiently as possible. I’m a little old fashioned, so I’ll probably so the final edit in Word once everything else is done in Obsidian. The multiple window support in Obsidian is great, but still a bit janky, and this method requires multiple windows to be open at a time. Hopefully a future update keeps the windows in the one spot.

      This is an excellent overview of how to take notes for academic research and creating writing output.

    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.

    1. When he recorded his observations, he adhered to the Erasmian principle of distilling things down to their essence and entering them in notebooks, as if he were storing rare wine to be served for dégustation in future conversations.

      This is quite similar to the advice by Sonke Ehrens and Nikolas Luhmann.

  9. Dec 2020
  10. Nov 2020
    1. You need to have a habit of tagging something as a to-do to synthesize the idea further, and then periodically go back and review those and write them in a more crisp language, or build up your evergreen notes so that you have this library of thoughts that you are able to get that compound interest on.

      You need a system inside Roam which helps you review notes that are not yet refined.

    1. Finally, you gain the ability to reuse previously built packets for new projects. Maybe some research you did for an online marketing campaign becomes useful for a new campaign. Or some sketches that didn’t quite make it into an old design give you inspiration for a new one. Or some book notes you wrote down casually turn out to be very useful for an unforeseen challenge a year later.

      The Intermediate Packet approach allows you to reuse previously built packets for new projects

      By incorporating existing packets in new projects, you gain the ability to deliver new projects much faster.

    1. 2. Possibility of linking (Verweisungsmöglichkeiten). Since all papers have fixed numbers, you can add as many references to them as you may want. Central concepts can have many links which show on which other contexts we can find materials relevant for them. Through references, we can, without too work or paper, solve the problem of multiple storage. Given this technique, it is less important where we place a new note. If there are several possibilities, we can solve the problem as we wish and just record the connection by a link [or reference].

      Since a note has a unique identifier, you can link to it.

      Since we can link to notes, it doesn't matter where we place a note.

    1. This is the best feature I’ve found for discovering new relationships between information.

      The unlinked references section is a great way to discover new relationships between information.

      It's also an area where a digital Zettelkasten outperforms an analog one.

  11. Oct 2020
    1. Luhmann actually had two slip-boxes: the first was the “bibliographical” slip-box, which contained brief notes on the content of the literature he read along with a citation of the source; the second “main” slip-box contained the ideas and theories he developed based on those sources. Both were wooden boxes containing paper index cards. 

      I'm already doing this same sort of thing in my TiddlyWiki and simply using tags to distinguish the sources, books, etc.

    2. The 8 Steps of Taking Smart Notes Ahrens recommends the following 8 steps for taking notes: Make fleeting notes Make literature notes Make permanent notes Now add your new permanent notes to the slip-box Develop your topics, questions and research projects bottom up from within the slip-box Decide on a topic to write about from within the slip-box Turn your notes into a rough draft Edit and proofread your manuscript
    3. This is a reasonable synopsis for why to keep a zettlekasten or commonplace book and how to use it to create new material. It fits roughly in line with my overall experience in doing these things.

    4. Luhmann’s slip-box grew to become an equal thinking partner in his work. He described his system as his secondary memory (zweitgedächtnis), alter ego, or reading memory (lesegedächtnis).
    1. If you’d like to differentiate between the various functions a paragraph in a text can have, look out for signal words. For example, the following literal devices may indicate that the function is to build a mental model: schema, allegory, analogy, hypothesis, metaphor, representation, simile, theory. Put a corresponding “model” mark next to these.
    1. The students in Raphael Folsom’s Spanish Borderlands course read primary sources on a weekly basis. Rather than taking notes on 3×5 index cards as we did when I was a kid, the students take the same type of note in the Drupal system. They fill out some basic bibliographic information about the source, write a short summary of the source, and then take a note about an interesting facet of the text.

      I've been trying this sort of thing out with a TiddlyWiki for a while and have got a reasonable sort of workflow for doing it. The key is to reduce the overhead so that one can quickly take notes in a manner that interlinks them and makes it seem worthwhile to come back to them to review and potentially reorganize them. Doing this practice in public has a lot of value as well. I'll have to come back and look at some of how this was built at a later time.

    1. Obsidian is a powerful knowledge base that works on top of a local folder of plain text Markdown files.

      Alright, I think I may now have things set to use an IFTTT applet to take my Hypothes.is feed and dump it into a file on OneDrive.

      The tiny amount of clean up to the resultant file isn't bad. In fact, a bit of it is actually good as it can count as a version of spaced repetition towards better recall of my notes.

      The one thing I'll potentially miss is the tags, which Hypothes.is doesn't include in their feeds (tucked into the body would be fine), but I suppose I could add them as internal wiki links directly if I wanted.

      I suspect that other storage services that work with IFTTT should work as well.

      Details in a blogpost soon...

      Testing cross-linking:

      See Also:

      • [[Obsidian]]
      • [[Hypothes.is]]
      • [[note taking]]
      • [[zettlekasten]]
      • [[commonplace books]]
      • [[productivity]]

      hat tip to Hypothesis, for such a generally wonderful user interface for making annotating, highlighting, bookmarking, and replying to web pages so easy!

    1. Luhmann didn’t only write a lot and developed the most complex of all theoretical bodies in the social sciences. He was known for his vast knowledge and deep thinking. He didn’t run to his Zettelkasten when you asked him something. This is because he practiced thinking through writing and processing in the context of the Zettelkasten.

      I read Zettelkasten (German for “slip box”, or “card index”) and immediately think commonplace book!

    2. The Barbell Method takes this into account by integrating your reading habit into your knowledge work with two steps: Read the book. Read swiftly but don’t skip any parts unless they make you vomit or put you to sleep. Mark all the passages that stand out and contain useful, interesting or inspiring information. Read the book a second time. But now you read the marked parts only. This time you make notes, connect them to past notes (Zettelkasten Method!) and think about what you’ve read. Make mindmaps, drawings, bullet points – everything that helps you to think more clearly.
    1. I’ll construct two forms of a Zettel: The Outer Form The Inner Form The outer form refers to entities that are necessary for its existence. The inner form refers to entities that compose its inner structure.
    1. Nevertheless, the very fact that I am going through my notes reflects a new habit I am trying to build, of setting time aside every week, and sometimes more often, deliberately to tend the oldest notes I have and the notes I created or edited in the past week. Old notes take longer, because I have to check old links and decide what to do if they have rotted away. Those notes also need to be reshaped in line with zettelkasten principles. That means deciding on primary tags, considering internal links, splitting the atoms of long notes and so on. At times it frustrates me, but when it goes well I do see structure emerging and with it new thoughts and new directions to follow.

      This is reminiscent of the idea that indigenous peoples regularly met at annual feasts to not only celebrate, but to review over their memory palaces and perform their rituals as a means of reviewing and strengthening their memories and ideas.

    2. Zettelkasten Unique Identifiers

      Jeremy, what platform/software are you using for your Zettelkasten? Is it public?

    1. Breaking the card into more atomic pieces turned a question he routinely got wrong into two questions he routinely got right.

      This sort of atomicity is exactly that of platforms like TiddlyWiki and Zettlekasten.

    1. You can translate “Folgezettel” (literally: “subsequent note”) as “note sequence”.
    2. Our brain can only hold to so much information at a time.

      of course this is why I like mnemonics and specific techniques like the method of loci. We can not only retain more but the memories can be stored in interesting ways that increase their potentially creativity like creating a Zettelkasten in the brain.

    1. I want to extract a reusable piece out of it in a way that it can be connected to many different things eventually. I want to make a home page for this idea or fact. My hub for thinking about this.

      And isn't this just the point of tools like commonplace books and zettelkasten?

    1. The tags for objects are much more precise and reveal real connections. They narrow down the search way more which is hugely important if your archive grows. They only give you what you want, and not the topic which also contains what you want.
    1. In mnemotechnic,brevitasrefers to the creating ofsuch ‘‘rich’’ if necessarily ‘‘brief ’’ units. Because there is in principle no limiton the number ofdivisionesa person may have in memory, readers could beencouraged to make ‘‘brief and compendious’’ summaries of materials theyhad learned.

      This is very similar to the idea in TiddlyWiki or Zettlekasten of writing down and storing the minimal amount of information on a card to capture an idea.

    1. Storyspace has an always-visible Toolbar and Menu to aid students. The Toolbar (Figure 2) provides, top-left to right and down: a Writing Space tool (to create writing areas), the Arrow tool (already familiar to Macintosh users) for routine selecting and clicking, the Note tool (the star) for attaching notes to text, and the Navigation tool (double-headed arrow) for creating and following text links. The Magnify tool (three windows) decreases or enlarges the size of windows. The Linking tool (boxes connected by line) enables linking of one text to other text areas. The Tunnel tool (box within a box) permits linking over widely separated writing spaces. The Compass (four directional arrows) is used to move quickly through levels of the chart, outline, or windows.

      The design of this, which predates that of the wiki, also seems eerily familiar as a digital version of a zettelkasten or the design which seems to underlie Roam Research's product.

    2. As I'm reading this page I can't help but think about how it potentially predates and underlies the idea of the wiki which came just a few years after this piece of software.

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

      Some interesting words in German for secondary memory and reading memory.

    1. To manage your knowledge, you have to know how you work.
    2. people need a simple answer to a complex problem.

      A simple and flexible Zettelkasten structure to accomplish diverse and complex needs.

    3. How do you store that amount of knowledge in a way that you can access it everytime?
    4. the more we read, the more it seems to slip through our long term memory.

      The common need to secure intuitions, thoughts and data somewhere, somehow.

    5. A Zettelkasten is a multitude of different approaches to a common problem — the problem of knowledge management.
  12. Sep 2020
    1. Now, if I notice a moment in a past Are.na conversation that highlights the topic, I add it to the topic's channel. Now the text block sits in the middle of a Venn diagram — both part of a chat log and part of a curated selection from conversations I have.

      This sounds a lot like a zettelkasten and the way it branches, it's just being done between multiple people and the zettelkasten instead of just one person.

    1. But I actually think stock and flow is a useful metaphor for media in the 21st century. Here’s what I mean: Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that reminds people you exist. Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content you produce that’s as interesting in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people discover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time.

      Een interessant inzicht van Robin Sloan (via) wat mij doet denken aan zowel de Zettelkasten methode van Niklas Luhman maar ook aan de opkomst van nieuwsbrieven de laatste maanden. Online publiceren begon met het maken en distribueren van "stock" sites. Semi-statische sites die soms nog terug zijn te vinden. De laatste 20 jaar zijn de flow feeds daar bij gekomen. Met name de social sites. Email en nieuwsbrieven lijken die sweet spot er tussen hebben gevonden. Enerzijds flow omdat ze periodiek verschijnen. Anderzijds stock omdat ze blijven bestaan in een online archief en in het mailarchief van de ontvanger. Een zoektocht in mijn mailbox brengt soms het antwoord boven in de vorm van een nieuwsbrief bericht van jaren geleden.

  13. Aug 2020
    1. and because we largely lack the infrastructure to support their creation and maintenance

      maintiance of course content is hard.

      Some of the tooling available to do this is getting better, I remember the hassles we had trying to keep the Angular training materials up to date, it was a maintenance nightmare.

      I think some of what is being done with MDX, Gatsby, HeadlessCMS, and sort of 'content as modules' can help with this infrastructure.

      I'm also curious to see where ideas like Roam, Zettelkasten, Smart Notes, etc could also help with this.

      Also 'minimal training modules', etc, and even things like https://notes.andymatuschak.org/About_these_notes could be used to have better networked thought and learnig

  14. Jun 2020
    1. Good intro on Zettelkasten note management method.

      Further reference:

      The Zettelkasten Method - Lesswrong 2 »Link«. on how to create "physical" Zettelkasten notes.

  15. May 2020
    1. But after a while, you won’t be able to keep up. When I search for tags I get a couple hundred of notes. I have to review them to connect a note to some of them, or get a grasp of what I wrote and thought about a specific topic. Naturally, a need to organize the archive arises at this point. I can’t remember how many notes I had when I experienced this. I introduced hub-like notes when I had between 500 and 700 notes.1 I gave myself an overview of the most important notes on that topic.

      There seems to be an inflection point where your initial approach to organizing your Zettelkasten starts to fail (perhaps 500-700 notes). You'll simply have too many tags to choose from.

      At this point hub-like notes will be the next stage in the evolution of your Zettelkasten organization.

  16. Feb 2020
    1. The Zettelkasten method makes reading complicated texts less frustrating. You’re not necessarily trying to understand the whole text. You’re just hunting down ideas to incorporate into your Zettelkasten. Who cares if you don’t understand everything? As long as you’re extracting some ideas, you’re growing your knowledge base and the text is being useful to you.
    2. Reading doesn’t magically increase your knowledge. Just because some text has entered your eyeballs and visited your short-term memory, that doesn’t mean you’ve learned from it. In fact, if all you’re doing is reading — and you’re doing so for any purpose other than entertainment — then you’re wasting your time. What has only entered your short-term memory will eventually be forgotten and is useless in the long term. Years later, it’ll be as if you had never read that book or that article.
  17. Jan 2020
  18. 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
    2. Posts from the Zettelkasten blog: Create a Zettelkasten for your Notes to Improve Thinking and Writing https://zettelkasten.de/posts/zettelkasten-improves-thinking-writing/ Making Proper Marks in Books https://zettelkasten.de/posts/making-proper-marks-in-books/ Create Zettel from Reading Notes https://zettelkasten.de/posts/create-zettel-from-reading-notes/ Manage Citations for a Zettelkasten https://zettelkasten.de/posts/bibliography-zettelkasten/ Extend Your Mind and Memory With a Zettelkasten https://zettelkasten.de/posts/extend-your-mind-and-memory-with-a-zettelkasten/ Preparing Fragments Helps You to Ease Into Writing https://zettelkasten.de/posts/ease-into-writing/ The Collector’s Fallacy https://zettelkasten.de/posts/collectors-fallacy/ Learn Faster by Writing Zettel Notes https://zettelkasten.de/posts/learn-faster-by-writing-zettel-notes/ You Only Find What You Have Identified https://zettelkasten.de/posts/add-identity/ Reading Habits: Putting It All Together https://zettelkasten.de/posts/reading-putting-it-all-together/
    1. The basic idea behind Zettelkasten is to build a repository of the knowledge you gain through the years. The idea is similar to what Paul Jun, of Creative Mastery, writes about keeping a Commonplace Book, or Ryan Holiday’s notecard system. Zettelkasten adds the powerful idea of linking notes to create a web of interlinked knowledge.
  19. Apr 2019