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  1. Last 7 days
    1. Many know from their own experience how uncontrollable and irretrievable the oftenvaluable notes and chains of thought are in note books and in the cabinets they are stored in

      Heyde indicates how "valuable notes and chains of thought are" but also points out "how uncontrollable and irretrievable" they are.

      This statement is strong evidence along with others in this chapter which may have inspired Niklas Luhmann to invent his iteration of the zettelkasten method of excerpting and making notes.

      (link to: Clemens /Heyde and Luhmann timeline: https://hypothes.is/a/4wxHdDqeEe2OKGMHXDKezA)

      Presumably he may have either heard or seen others talking about or using these general methods either during his undergraduate or law school experiences. Even with some scant experience, this line may have struck him significantly as an organization barrier of earlier methods.

      Why have notes strewn about in a box or notebook as Heyde says? Why spend the time indexing everything and then needing to search for it later? Why not take the time to actively place new ideas into one's box as close as possibly to ideas they directly relate to?

      But how do we manage this in a findable way? Since we can't index ideas based on tabs in a notebook or even notebook page numbers, we need to have some sort of handle on where ideas are in slips within our box. The development of European card catalog systems had started in the late 1700s, and further refinements of Melvil Dewey as well as standardization had come about by the early to mid 1900s. One could have used the Dewey Decimal System to index their notes using smaller decimals to infinitely intersperse cards on a growing basis.

      But Niklas Luhmann had gone to law school and spent time in civil administration. He would have been aware of aktenzeichen file numbers used in German law/court settings and public administration. He seems to have used a simplified version of this sort of filing system as the base of his numbering system. And why not? He would have likely been intimately familiar with its use and application, so why not adopt it or a simplified version of it for his use? Because it's extensible in a a branching tree fashion, one can add an infinite number of cards or files into the midst of a preexisting collection. And isn't this just the function aktenzeichen file numbers served within the German court system? Incidentally these file numbers began use around 1932, but were likely heavily influenced by the Austrian conscription numbers and house numbers of the late 1770s which also influenced library card cataloging numbers, so the whole system comes right back around. (Ref Krajewski here).

      (Cross reference/ see: https://hypothes.is/a/CqGhGvchEey6heekrEJ9WA

      Other pieces he may have been attempting to get around include the excessive work of additional copying involved in this piece as well as a lot of the additional work of indexing.

      One will note that Luhmann's index was much more sparse than without his methods. Often in books, a reader will find a reference or two in an index and then go right to the spot they need and read around it. Luhmann did exactly this in his sequence of cards. An index entry or two would send him to the general local and sifting through a handful of cards would place him in the correct vicinity. This results in a slight increase in time for some searches, but it pays off in massive savings of time of not needing to cross index everything onto cards as one goes, and it also dramatically increases the probability that one will serendipitously review over related cards and potentially generate new insights and links for new ideas going into one's slip box.

  2. Sep 2022
    1. Robert King Merton

      Mario Bunge indicated that he was directly influenced by American Sociologist Robert Merton.

      What particular areas did this include? Serendipity? Note taking practices? Creativity? Systems theory?

    1. https://lu.ma/az338ptc

      Joey Cofone: Are there laws to creativity?

      Joey Cofone, author of the upcoming book The Laws of Creativity, is selling the idea of "float" (in comparison to Mihaly Csikzentmihaly's "flow"), which is ostensibly similar to Barbara Oakley's diffuse thinking framework, Nassim Nicholas Taleb's flâneur framing, and a dose of the Zeigarnik effect.

      I'm concerned that this book will be broadly prescriptive without any founding on any of the extant research, literature, or science of the past. I'll think more highly of it if it were to quote/reference something like Merton and Barber's The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity: A Study in Sociological Semantics and the Sociology of Science.


      Following on the above:

      David Allen (of GTD fame) indicates that one should close all open loops to free up working memory, but leaving some open for active thought, follow up, and potential future insight creation can be a useful pattern too. (2022-09-09 9:05 AM)

  3. Aug 2022
    1. Should I always create a Bib-note? .t3_x2f4hn._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      reply to: https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/x2f4hn/should_i_always_create_a_bibnote/

      If you want to be lazy you could just create the one card with the quote and full source and save a full bibliographical note. Your future self will likely be pleasantly surprised if you do create a full bib note (filed separately) which allows for a greater level of future findability and potential serendipity, It may happen when you've run across that possibly obscure author multiple times and it may spur you to read other material by them or cross reference other related authors. It's these small, but seemingly "useless", practices in the present that generate creativity and serendipity over longer periods of time that really bring out the compounding value of ZK.

      More and more I find that the randomly referenced and obscure writer or historical figure I noted weeks/months/years ago pops up and becomes a key player in research I'm doing now, but that I otherwise would have long forgotten and thus not able to connect or inform my current pursuits. These golden moments are too frequently not written about or highlighted properly in much of the literature about these practices.

      Naturally, however, everyone's practices may differ. You want to save the source at the very least, even if it's just on that slip with the quote. If you're pressed for time now, save the step and do it later when you install the card.

      Often is the time that I don't think of anything useful contemporaneously but then a week or two later I'll think of something relevant and go back and write another note or two, or I'll want to recommend it to someone and then at least it's findable to recommend.

      Frequently I find that the rule "If it's worth reading, then it's worth writing down the author, title, publisher and date at a minimum" saves me from reading a lot of useless material. Of course if you're researching and writing about the broader idea of "listicles" then perhaps you have other priorities?

    1. Apart from a higher probability to retrieve particular note sheets, that advantage lies in thecircumstance that notes having a similar keyword will, as the box grows, find themselves atthe same location because of the alphabetical structure. That means not only an automaticcollection of content, but also a comparative review of those related note sheets, which inturn leads to new thoughts basd on the relation between the note sheets with identicalkeywords
    1. I see connections between ideas more easily following this approach. Plus, the combinations of ideas lead to even more new ideas. It’s great!

      Like many others, the idea of combinatorial creativity and serendipity stemming from the slip box is undersold.

    1. I'm working on my zettelkasten—creating literature notes and permanent notes—for 90 min a day from Monday to Friday but I struggle with my permanent note output. Namely, I manage to complete no more than 3-4 permanent notes per week. By complete I mean notes that are atomic (limited to 1 idea), autonomous (make sense on their own), connected (link to at least 3 other notes), and brief (no more than 300 words).That said, I have two questions:How many permanent notes do you complete per week on average?What are your tips to increase your output?

      reply to: https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/wjigq6/how_do_you_increase_your_permanent_note_output

      In addition to all the other good advice from others, it might be worth taking a look at others' production and output from a historical perspective. Luhmann working at his project full time managed to average about 6 cards a day.1 Roland Barthes who had a similar practice for 37 years averaged about 1.3 cards a day.2 Tiago Forte has self-reported that he makes two notes a day, though obviously his isn't the same sort of practice nor has he done it consistently for as long.3 As you request, it would be useful to have some better data about the output of people with long term, consistent use.

      Given even these few, but reasonably solid, data points at just 90 minutes a day, one might think you're maybe too "productive"! I suspect that unless one is an academic working at something consistently nearly full time, most are more likely to be in the 1-3 notes a day average output at best. On a per hour basis Luhmann was close to 0.75 cards while you're at 0.53 cards. Knowing this, perhaps the best advice is to slow down a bit and focus on quality over quantity. This combined with continued consistency will probably serve your enterprise much better in the long run than in focusing on card per hour or card per day productivity.

      Internal idea generation/creation productivity will naturally compound over time as your collection grows and you continue to work with it. This may be a better sort of productivity to focus on in the long term compared with short term raw inputs.

      Another useful tidbit that some neglect is the level of quality and diversity of the reading (or other) inputs you're using. The better the journal articles and books you're reading, the more value and insight you're likely to find and generate more quickly over time.

  4. Jul 2022
    1. As I was reviewing these I wrote thePoint Note pictured, continuing the train of thought thatadvocates of the zettelkasten system often claim it “shows”you what some people call “hot nodes”, which can tell you(sometimes surprising) things about the topic you arepursuing.

      "hot nodes"? I've not come across this as a thing... source?

    2. Also, trust me on this: the “Aha!” momentsbecome more frequent and rewarding, when you’rewriting thoughts down.
    1. I'll push back on this a bit. I suspect that even though one might create multiple links to digital notes in all directions like this, it really doesn't happen happen at scale like this in practice.

      I'd be willing to guess that very few people in the digital space are linking their ideas to more than two or three others. In fact, I suspect that if you looked at many digital ZKs you'd find a lot of orphaned notes floating around.

      Separately, even in the analog space, the two links (down or forward) isn't always correct either. I cross link all over the place. The one constant benefit of the analog is that you're generally required to create at least one link because you have to place the card somewhere, and this isn't the case in most digital contexts/tools.

      I'd posit that it's a lot of work to link a new idea into your system once much less in multiple places. Generally the more ideas you can link/cross-link it to, the more likely you'll run across it in the future and have potential to reuse it. I'd also suggest that the more links it's got, the better you'll "own" it. These addition links will also allow you to better compare/contrast various ideas by juxtaposing them in the future.

      Theorem: more (good/great) links = more complexity which yields more "life", serendipity, and surprise to be found in your slip box for future use.

    1. In one of his videos he talks about "approaching the mind of god" or something similar, in a way I can't entirely tell whether he is paraphrasing an early-modern note-taker or saying that's what he thinks he is doing himself. I don't really care whether he's religious or not, unless it compromises the system he's building.

      These always read as hyperbole to me, but it's difficult to explain the surprise and serendipity of re-finding things in one's notes on a regular basis. It's akin to the sort of cognitive dissonance that religious people have when encountering the levels of complexity formed by living systems through evolution. Not having better words for describing the experience, they may resort to descriptions of magic or religion to frame their experiences.

  5. Jun 2022
    1. surveys indicate that screens and e-readers interfere with two other important aspects of navigating texts: serendipity and a sense of control.

      Based on surveys, readers indicate that two important parts of textual navigation are sense of control and serendipity.

      http://books.google.com/books/about/Electronic_journal_literature.html?id=YSFlAAAAMAAJ


      How does the control over a book frame how we read? What does "power over" a book look like compared to "power with"?

      What are the tools for thought affordances that paper books provide over digital books and vice versa?


      I find myself thinking about people publishing books in index card/zettelkasten formats. Perhaps Scott Scheper could do this with his antinet book presented in a linear format, but done in index cards with his numbers, links, etc. as well as his actual cards for his index so that readers could also see the power of the system by holding it in their hands and playing with it.

    1. Third, sharing our ideas with others introduces a major element ofserendipity

      There is lots of serendipity here, particularly when people are willing to either share their knowledge or feel compelled to share it as part of an imagined life "competition" or even low forms of mansplaining, though this last tends to be called this when the ultimate idea isn't serendipitous but potentially so commonly known that there is no insight in the information.

      This sort of "public serendipity" or "group serendipity" is nice because it means that much of the work of discovery and connecting ideas is done by others against your own work rather that you sorting/searching through your own more limited realm of work to potentially create it.

      Group focused combinatorial creativity can be dramatically more powerful than that done on one's own. This can be part of the major value behind public digital gardens, zettelkasten, etc.

    2. First, while using the previous retrieval methods, it is a good ideato keep your focus a little broad. Don’t begin and end your searchwith only the specific folder that matches your criteria.

      The area of serendipity becomes much more powerful when one has ideas both directly interlinked, ideas categorized with subject headings or tags, or when one can have affordances like auto-complete.

      The method Forte suggests and outlines allows for some serendipity, but not as much as other methods with additional refinements. Serendipity in Forte's method isn't as strong as in others.

      In this section he's talking about some of the true "magic of note taking" which is discussed by Luhmann and others.

      link to:<br /> Luhmann's writings on serendipity and surprise when using his zettelkasten (Communication with the Slipbox...)<br /> Ahrens mentions of this effect

    1. If Luhmann’s notebox system was not dynamic and fluid and not one of pure order, either, how can one think of Luhmann’s notebox system? In my experience using an Antinet Zettelkasten, I find it to be more organic in nature. Like nature, it has simple laws and fundamental rules by which it operates (like the laws of thermodynamics in physics); yet, it’s also subject to arbitrary decisions. We know this because in describing it, Luhmann uses the word arbitrary to describe its arbitrary internal branching. We can infer that arbitrary, means something that was decided by Luhmann outside of some external and strict criteria (i.e., strict schemes like the Dewey Decimal Classification). (12)12 This arbitrary, random structure contributes to one of its most distinctive aspects of the system–the aspect of surprises. Because of its unique structure, the Antinet is noted as “a surprise generator,” and a system that develops “a creativity of its own.” (13)

      There's some magical thinking involved here. While the system has some arbitrary internal branching, the surprises come from the system's perfect memory that the human user doesn't have. This makes it appear that the system creates its own creativity, but it is really the combinatorics of the perfect memory system with use over time.

      Link to: serendipity of systems based on auto-complete

    1. The addressing system that many digital note taking systems offer is reminiscent of Luhmann's paper system where it served a particular use. Many might ask themselves if they really need this functionality in digital contexts where text search and other affordances can be more directly useful.

      Frequently missed by many, perhaps because they're befuddled by the complex branching numbering system which gets more publicity, Luhmann's paper-based system had a highly useful and simple subject heading index (see: https://niklas-luhmann-archiv.de/bestand/zettelkasten/zettel/ZK_2_SW1_001_V, for example) which can be replicated using either #tags or [[wikilinks]] within tools like Obsidian. Of course having an index doesn't preclude the incredible usefulness of directly linking one idea to potentially multiple others in some branching tree-like or network structure.

      Note that one highly valuable feature of Luhmann's paper version was that the totality of cards were linked to a minimum of at least one other card by the default that they were placed into the file itself. Those putting notes into Obsidian often place them into their system as singlet, un-linked notes as a default, and this can lead to problems down the road. However this can be mitigated by utilizing topical or subject headings on individual cards which allows for searching on a heading and then cross-linking individual ideas as appropriate.

      As an example, because two cards may be tagged with "archaeology" doesn't necessarily mean they're closely related as ideas. This tends to decrease in likelihood if one is an archaeologist and a large proportion of cards might contain that tag, but will simultaneously create more value over time as generic tags increase in number but the specific ideas cross link in small numbers. Similarly as one delves more deeply into archaeology, one will also come up with more granular and useful sub-tags (like Zooarcheology, Paleobotany, Archeopedology, Forensic Archeology, Archeoastronomy, Geoarcheology, etc.) as their knowledge in sub areas increases.

      Concretely, one might expect that the subject heading "sociology" would be nearly useless to Luhmann as that was the overarching topic of both of his zettelkästen (I & II), whereas "Autonomie" was much more specific and useful for cross linking a smaller handful of potentially related ideas in the future.

      Looking beyond Luhmann can be highly helpful in designing and using one's own system. I'd recommend taking a look at John Locke's work on indexing (1685) (https://publicdomainreview.org/collection/john-lockes-method-for-common-place-books-1685 is an interesting source, though you're obviously applying it to (digital) cards and not a notebook) or Ross Ashby's hybrid notebook/index card system which is also available online (http://www.rossashby.info/journal/index.html) as an example.

      Another helpful tip some are sure to appreciate in systems that have an auto-complete function is simply starting to write a wikilink with various related subject heading words that may appear within your system. You'll then be presented with potential options of things to link to serendipitously that you may not have otherwise considered. Within a digital zettelkasten, the popularly used DYAC (Damn You Auto Complete) may turn into Bless You Auto Complete.

  6. May 2022
    1. All you have to do is take cute little notes all the time, and the hard work is magically done for you!

      This sounds clever, but it belies the amount of work that can go into such systems on the font end instead of on the back end. It also sounds as if the author hasn't used such a system to even a low level of critical mass to begin discovering any serendipity or finding any insight in their links.

  7. Apr 2022
    1. Since most of our feeds rely on either machine algorithms or human curation, there is very little control over what we actually want to see.

      While algorithmic feeds and "artificial intelligences" might control large swaths of what we see in our passive acquisition modes, we can and certainly should spend more of our time in active search modes which don't employ these tools or methods.

      How might we better blend our passive and active modes of search and discovery while still having and maintaining the value of serendipity in our workflows?

      Consider the loss of library stacks in our research workflows? We've lost some of the serendipity of seeing the book titles on the shelf that are adjacent to the one we're looking for. What about the books just above and below it? How do we replicate that sort of serendipity into our digital world?

      How do we help prevent the shiny object syndrome? How can stay on task rather than move onto the next pretty thing or topic presented to us by an algorithmic feed so that we can accomplish the task we set out to do? Certainly bookmarking a thing or a topic for later follow up can be useful so we don't go too far afield, but what other methods might we use? How can we optimize our random walks through life and a sea of information to tie disparate parts of everything together? Do we need to only rely on doing it as a broader species? Can smaller subgroups accomplish this if carefully planned or is exploring the problem space only possible at mass scale? And even then we may be under shooting the goal by an order of magnitude (or ten)?

  8. Mar 2022
    1. ich finde immer mehr das was ich suche also meinen suchbegriff hat immer einfluss auf was sich dann finde es gibt eine ganz enge 00:30:24 vernetzung zwischen suchen und finden

      Hier öffnet sich mir allein aus epistemologischer Sicht eine Möglichkeit, (evtl?!) serendipity gezielter einfließen zu lassen. Wenn ich darum weiß, dass suchen und finden so eng miteinander verwoben sind und inwiefern sie es sind, dann kann diese Reflexion wiederum Einfluss auf mein Verhalten, mein Handeln, meine Operationen im Netz haben.

  9. Feb 2022
    1. https://dancohen.org/2019/07/23/engagement-is-the-enemy-of-serendipity/

      Dan Cohen talks about a design change in the New York Times app that actively discourages exploration and discovery by serendipity.

      This is similar to pulling out digital copies of books you're looking for instead of going to the library, tracking down the book on the shelf and in the process seeing and experiencing the books on the shelf which are nearby, or even the book that catches your eye across the aisle, wasn't in your sphere of search or interest, but you pick it up anyway.

      How can we bring this sort of design back to digital experiences?

      It's not just the algorithmic feeds which are narrowing our interests and exposure, but the design of our digital spaces as well.

    1. As much as I automate things, though,none of my thinking is done by a tool.Even with plugins like Graph Analysis, I never feel like I'm being presented with emergent connections — tho this is what the plugin is intended for, and I believe it works for other people.

      At what point could digital tools be said to be thinking? Do they need to be generative? It certainly needs to be on the other side of serendipitously juxtaposing two interesting ideas. One can juxtapose millions of ideas, it's the selection of a tiny subset of these as "better" or more interesting than the others and then building off of that that constitutes this sort of generative thought.

  10. Jan 2022
    1. One could say that it makes —to use Robert Merton’s term5 — serendipity possible in a systemically and theoretically informed way

      How does a set of connected notes create serendipity in a systematic and theoretically informed way?

      Merton, Robert King and Barber, Elinor (2004) The Travels And Adventures Of Serendipity : A Study In Sociological Semantics And The Sociology Of Science Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 2004

    1. https://takingnotenow.blogspot.com/2007/12/planning-for-unexpected-discoveries.html

      archive: https://web.archive.org/web/20201021185408/https://takingnotenow.blogspot.com/2007/12/planning-for-unexpected-discoveries.html

      Manfred Keuhn reflects on serendipity in note taking and how Niklas Luhmann's system helped to produce it.

      This general thesis is similar to that of Raymond Llull's combinatorial thought which forces the juxtaposition of disparate ideas to shake out new ones.

    2. He also quotes another scientist, who speaks of "controlled sloppiness" as a principle that "permits the occurrence of fruitful accidents", tracing this idea to the fact that scientific work is never without loose ends and that in the absence of a rigid plan it is possible to pay attention to the untidy ends, which ultimately "may turn out to be of considerable importance." Indeed, "compulsive tidiness in experimentation" may be even more crippling than in other areas of life (193).

      Merton, Robert King and Barber, Elinor (2004) The Travels And Adventures Of Serendipity : A Study In Sociological Semantics And The Sociology Of Science Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 2004

  11. Sep 2021
    1. You might be looking for a gift for a friend, doing research for a project, trying to learn other perspectives — they filter all data through the lens of capitalism and how they can sell you more things. That’s no replacement for human connection, or expertise a person has that could help you leap to things you didn’t know to look for.
  12. Jul 2021
    1. Another interpretation of the “Small Web” concept is that it refers to the use of alternative protocols to the dominant HTTP(S), lightweight ones like the older Gopher and newer Gemini. For example, the blog post Introduction to Gemini describes these collectively as “the Small Internet”.

      Maybe the idea of a "personal internet" is what we're all really looking for? Something with some humanity? Something that's fun? Something that has some serendipity?

    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?

  13. Jun 2021
    1. It seeks to develop “the perfect search engine,” which it defines as something that “understands exactly what you mean and gives you back exactly what you want.”

      What if we want more serendipity? What if we don't know what we really want? Where is this in their system?

  14. Apr 2021
    1. Darius Kazemi randomly tweets out pages from books in the Internet Archive as a means of creating discovery and serendipity.

      Library Futures, Jennie Rose Halperin @Library_futures @little_wow

      Idea of artificial scarcity being imposed on digital objects is a damaging thing for society.

      Ideas to explore:

      Libraries as a free resource could be reframed as a human right within a community.

      Librarians as local community tummelers around information.

      Joanne McNeill

  15. Dec 2018
    1. Where’s my Net dashboard?

      Interestingly, I came to this post in my feed reader while randomly looking for something I could use as an example in something I was writing about feed readers!!!

  16. Sep 2018
    1. Then, venturing further into the store: this is what we happen to have.

      I'm also reminded here of the idea of serendipity. Perhaps I go into a library looking for a specific topic and browse to that section via Dewey decimal. What about the serendipity of finding something interesting in that same section (or even nearby sections) that I wasn't specifically looking for?

      Google's search ranking rarely if ever unearths this sort of serendipitous material.

  17. Aug 2017
    1. In fact, academics now regularly tap into the reservoir of digitized material that Google helped create, using it as a dataset they can query, even if they can’t consume full texts.

      It's good to understand that exploring a corpus for "brainstorming" or discovering heretofore seen connections is different than a discovery query that is meant to give access to an entire text.

  18. Sep 2016
    1. He leaned back, rather pleased with his line. It might even mean something, he thought.

      This line is poking fun at the character, implying a narcissistic concern with his own intelligence, but in my life I've found that saying something that seems to resonate with meaning and that one has not before experienced is a rare, beautiful feeling.