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  1. Last 7 days
    1. The lost index cards of Harold Innis :: Writing Slowly — by Richard (aka u/atomicnotes)

      snippets on my note with some brief extensions...

      I'm aware that HI's collection is now missing, but it could be partially recreated from typescript and the numbered notes.

    2. Manuscript Collection #845, Innis Papers, Archives of the University of Toronto, Thomas Fisher Library, Box 8

      Presumably the archives which contain the papers of Harold Innis.

    1. Wabash NYC Moving Notice, Wabash Cabinet Company, Wabash, IN Indiana 1942


      On a postcard dated 1942-07-01, the Wabash Cabinet Company announced the "Removal of its New York Office on July 1st to 60 EAST 42nd STREET, (Lincoln Building)".

    1. I have read that a Maincard's Keyword usually is not a word that is used in the thought that you wrote on the card.

      reply to u/drogers8 at https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/13wlfbs/how_to_select_a_keyword_for_your_main_card/

      I'm don't think I've ever seen that advice anywhere in my own reading. I've been doing this for ages and would suggest that it's actively bad advice. Use a keyword that seems useful, beneficial, and which you're likely to have the most interest in in the future. What do you suspect the future you will use to search for that card or a branch on that idea in the future? Use that.

      Also, don't overthink this stuff. Just practice. You're going to make some mistakes, but with a small number of cards you'll start to figure it out on your own before things get too large. Your practice today is not going to look like your practice in 6 months and it'll change again 6 months after that.

    1. Santalucia, Nick. “The Zettelkasten in the Secondary Classroom.” Blog, July 6, 2021. https://www.nicksantalucia.com/blog/the-zettelkasten-in-the-secondary-classroom-k12.

    2. Hyper-zettelkastenStudents stick all of their zettels on the walls with sticky tack or tape (be sure students initial or mark their zettels before doing this).Then, students walk around the room and search for connections and create original ideas using those connections.Students physically attach those zettels with string (like a conspiracy theorist would) and stick a zettel on the string explaining the connection.
    1. There is a two-step compression of the content built into the Zettelkasten Method: The one-sentence-summary compresses the summary to one sentence (or two). The title is a further compression of the content into a few words. Working on the one-sentence summary and the title is an act of learning itself. You cannot get any understanding of the Method without real content.

      this reminds me of the 1-3-1 writing structure 1- topic sentence 3 - examples/description 1 - conclusion

    1. @chrisaldrich, I appreciate your feedback. Indeed there is magic in making notes which comes not only from finding connections in the ZK but also from making connections in mind. Maybe I'm confused. A mindset that makes note-making fun is one way to recruit the body's dopamine mechanism. This creates a positive feedback loop. More mote-making turns to more dopamine which turns to more note-making. Maybe even some notes on dopamine. (I have 11 already!) My sense of Luhmann's phrase "second memory" is a rehashing of an idea—a continued exploration. Using the ZK method is one way of formalizing the continued review of ideas. Without a formal process, it is too easy to fall into old bad habits and not work towards "the serendipity of combinatorial creativity. "

      Reply to Will Simpson at https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/comment/17939/#Comment_17939

      There should be more conversation about zettelkasten as both a "ratchet" as well as a "flywheeel". Sometimes I feel like it's hard to speak of these things for either lack of appropriate words/naming and/or having a shared vocabulary for them.

      Even Luhmann's "second memory" has a mushiness to it, but I certainly see your sense of it as a thing which moves forward. I have the same sort of sense with the Aboriginal cultural idea of a "songline" which acts as both a noun as well as having an internal sense of being a verb to me. The word "google" has physically and specifically undergone the transition from noun to verb in a way which "second memory" and "songline" haven't, though perhaps they should? The difference is that the word google is much more concrete and simple while second memory and songline have a lot more cultural material and meaning sitting with them if you know them and their fuller attendant practices.

    1. https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/13tv9ls/question_how_fast_did_you_name_your_antinet/

      Mine was a bit into the process, but not until I got the filing cabinet where they'll all ultimately live: https://boffosocko.com/2022/08/08/55808119/#Naming

      See examples of people naming them here including: - Cvrie (Fallout 4 reference) - torspedia (after username on MediaWiki installation) - Todd (Bad Words reference to study binder) - Plumeria (after 4 months) - Hamilton after video - Epictetus (meaning "to acquire" from stoicism) - Zeke (short for Ezekiel) - Stewie (personal communication, Scheper's nickname, not mentioned on this page)

    1. I like to imagine that Bob Ross lends his voice to point to the “happy accidents” that happen while working with Zettelkastens.

      Bob Ross' "happy accidents" tied to the idea of serendipity or the outcome of combinatorial creativity within a zettelkasten.

      Ross's version is related to experimentation and the idea of adjacent possible. Taking a current known and extending it to see what will happening and accepting the general outcome. This was one of the roots of his creative process.

    2. communication partners

      super interesting that Luhmann referred to his zettelkasten as a communication partner explicitly himself.

      also interesting given AI models are easier to train now with several models already open sourced which allows actual interaction with your notes! would love to see where it goes.

    1. of course I had done a lot of thinking even before I ever used a ZK, but now I can record, retrieve, and elaborate these thoughts easily so that they accumulate over time to something bigger. Now, writing a paper or grant proposal often comes down to concatenating a bunch of notes.
    2. Wittgenstein, Luhmann, Conrad Gessner, Leibniz, Linnaeus and Walter Benjamin are some I can think of off the top of my head.

      reply to u/muhlfriedl by way of reply to u/chounosumuheya at https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/13s6dsg/comment/jlpt8ai/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

      Examples of zettelkasten users

      S.D. Goitein, Beatrice Webb, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Harold Innis, Victor Margolin, Eminem, Aby Warburg, Antonin Sertillanges, Jacques Barzun, C. Wright Mills, Gotthard Deutsch, Roland Barthes, Umberto Eco, Vladimir Nabokov, Gerald Weinberg, Michael Ende, Twyla Tharp, Hans Blumenberg, Keith Thomas, Arno Schmidt, Mario Bunge, Sönke Ahrens, Dan Allosso for a few more. If you go with those who used commonplace books and waste books, which are notebook-based instead of index card-based, there are thousands upon thousands more.

      Historically the easier question might be: what creators didn't use one of these systems and was successful?!? The broad outlines of these methods go back much, much farther than Niklas Luhmann. These patterns are not new...

      Personally, I've used my own slip box to write large portions of the articles on my website. I also queried it to compile this reply.

    1. The entire point of writing short-ish, single-idea notes—so-called "atomic notes"—is because it’s easier to connect a single idea to many other single-ideas, then it is to connect a complex idea to other complex ideas. We do this, not to gain insight or make meaningful connections, but to write more. Writing is the place where insight is finally crystallized. So, for people who want to write a lot and very often and very regularly, having hundreds of connected ideas to pull from on a weekly basis is a huge win!

      Atomic notes are not for making connections, but to facilitate more writing

    1. But I wouldn't call them a ZK® (stealing Andy's shorthand!) but they were a box of notes (Zettelkasten?).
    2. It is unfortunate that the German word for a box of notes is the same as the methodology surrounding Luhmann.

      reply to dandennison84 at https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/comment/17921/#Comment_17921

      I've written a bit before on The Two Definitions of Zettelkasten, the latter of which has been emerging since roughly 2013 in English language contexts. Some of it is similar to or extends @dandennison84's framing along with some additional history.

      Because of the richness of prior annotation and note taking traditions, for those who might mean what we're jokingly calling ZK®, I typically refer to that practice specifically as a "Luhmann-esque zettelkasten", though it might be far more appropriate to name them a (Melvil) "Dewey Zettelkasten" because the underlying idea which makes Luhmann's specific zettelkasten unique is that he was numbering his ideas and filing them next to similar ideas. Luhmann was treating ideas on cards the way Dewey had treated and classified books about 76 years earlier. Luhmann fortunately didn't need to have a standardized set of numbers the way the Mundaneum had with the Universal Decimal Classification system, because his was personal/private and not shared.

      To be clear, I'm presently unaware that Dewey had or kept any specific sort of note taking system, card-based or otherwise. I would suspect, given his context, that if we were to dig into that history, we would find something closer to a Locke-inspired indexed commonplace book, though he may have switched later in life as his Library Bureau came to greater prominence and dominance.

      Some of the value of the Dewey-Luhmann note taking system stems from the same sorts of serendipity one discovers while flipping through ideas that one finds in searching for books on library shelves. You may find the specific book you were looking for, but you're also liable to find some interesting things to read on the shelves around that book or even on a shelf you pass on the way to find your book.

      Perhaps naming it and referring to it as the Dewey-Luhmann note taking system or the Dewey-Luhmann Zettelkasten may help to better ground and/or demystify the specific practices? Co-crediting them for the root idea and an early actual practice, respectively, provides a better framing and understanding, especially for native English speakers who don't have the linguistic context for understanding Zettelkästen on its own. Such a moniker would help to better delineate the expected practices and shape of a note taking practice which could be differentiated from other very similar ones which provide somewhat different affordances.

      Of course, as the history of naming scientific principles and mathematical theorems after people shows us, as soon as such a surname label might catch on, we'll assuredly discover someone earlier in the timeline who had mastered these principles long before (eg: the "Gessner Zettelkasten" anyone?) Caveat emptor.

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dU7efgGEOgk

      I wish he'd gotten into more of the detail of the research and index card making here as that's where most of the work lies. He does show some of his process of laying out and organizing the cards into some sort of sections using 1/3 cut tabbed cards. This is where his system diverges wildly from Luhmann's. He's now got to go through all the cards and do some additional re-reading and organizational work to put them into some sort of order. Luhmann did this as he went linking ideas and organizing them up front. This upfront work makes the back side of laying things out and writing/editing so much easier. It likely also makes one more creative as one is regularly revisiting ideas, juxtaposing them, and potentially generating new ones along the way rather than waiting until the organization stage to have some of this new material "fall out".

  2. May 2023
    1. I am wholly unsurprised that Harold Innis maintained a card index (zettelkasten) through his research life, but I am pleased to have found that his literary estate has done some work on it and published it. The introduction seems to have some fascinating material on the form and structure as well as decisions on how they decided to present and publish it.



    1. Another important 20th-century thinker to rely on index cards was pioneering media theo-rist Harold Innis.18 The executors of his estate published a tome called The Idea File (1980),composed of 18 inches of index cards, plus five inches of reference cards. Innis had a selection ofhand-written index cards typed up and numbered, 1 through 339. It is unclear if these rumina-tions on television and art, communication and trade, secrecy and money, literature and the oraltradition, archives and history were intended to constitute a book project; the decision to publishthe cards balances the putative will to posterity of an author, and the potential embarrassmentof incomplete work. Clearly Innis intended to work synchronically rather than diachronically,to focus less on logical connections than on analogies, to practice pattern recognition—andthe associative links of a card index lend themselves perfectly to this kind of project.
    2. A type-script of 768 pages (labeled simply The Big Typescript) dated from 1933 had been in the estatesince 1951, but only in 1967 were the “Zettel” recognized from which it was compiled.Cut-and-paste was integral: “Usually he continued to work with the typescripts. A methodwhich he often used was to cut up the typed text into fragments (‘Zettel’) and to rearrangethe order of the remarks”.17

      via: Georg Henrik von Wright, “The Wittgenstein Papers,” The Philosophical Review 78:4 (1969), 483–563, here: 487.

      von Wright seems to indicate that Wittgenstein created typescripts which he cut up into zettel and then was able to rearrange them into final forms.

    1. Although Niklas Luhmann used zettelkasten on the basis of his academic works, I have seen very few sources on the academic use of zettelkasten, except for a few videos. Is there any source you can recommend on this subject?Another question I have is about the academic reuse of notes. After Luhmann used a note in one academic text, how did he use that note again in another work? Or in general, how can we avoid self-plagiarism in the academic use of zettelkasten?

      reply to u/edumanos at https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/13p0myn/academic_using_of_zettelkasten/

      The Luhmann's method was very specific to him, but the broader slip box method has been in wide use in academic settings for centuries, particularly in the humanities. I most often recommend Umberto Eco's book in conjunction with Adler/Van Doren's How to Read a Book, but below are a small selection of manuals on very closely related note taking methods. These can be found in a handful of languages and some even more specific to particular areas of study, though broadly they're all useful to almost any area. You'll note that some are available for free on archive.org as they're out of copyright, have been scanned, or are open educational resources. I've tried to link most of these for convenience.

      If this list isn't enough, or you're looking for something written for a specific subfield (sociology, for example), let me know as I'm sure there are a plethora of others, or even some fun short pieces like: - Thomas, Keith. “Diary: Working Methods.” London Review of Books, June 10, 2010. https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v32/n11/keith-thomas/diary. - Mills, C. Wright. “On Intellectual Craftsmanship (1952).” Society 17, no. 2 (January 1, 1980): 63–70. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02700062.

      My favorite short/overview video is that of Victor Margolin's process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kxyy0THLfuI.

      As for self-plagiarism, some have used a red pencil or other means to mark cards (notes) they've used in specific works as they write so that they know they've been used and can then self-cite their prior works to avoid self-plagiarism or to up their citation count.

      Good luck!

    1. Oryginalnie na fiszkach Zettelkasten nie ma kolorów, ale postanowiłam to akurat trochę zmienić.

      Nie wiem, skąd wzięło się to stwierdzenie. Nawet jeśli zawiesimy kwestię oryginalności Zettelkasten (gdzie jest bowiem oryginał?) i weźmiemy pod uwagę chociążby to, jak notował Luhmann, to zauważymy, że kolorów (przede wszystkim czerwonego) u niego nie brakuje.

    2. O ile tagi są podstawą Zettelkasten, o tyle kategorie to już moja interpretacja.

      Nie jestem właśnie przekonany. Nie wiem, co tu jest podstawą, a co nie. Według mnie istotą Zettelkasten jest gromadzenie informacji w jednym miejscu, a tym, co pozwala to jedno miejsce określić są kategorie, etykiety z kolei pozwalają nawigować po notatkach, które mogą być rozsiane po różnych kategoriach.

    1. I went to that website and he mentions the Dewey Decimal Classification System. I have look around and only found examples/files that goes a few levels deep. He gives an example: 516.375 Finsler geometry BUT I can not find any DDC files that goes to that level of classification. The DDC is finer grain than the what the AOoD system goes so for me I am going with the DDC for possible keywords list.Any ideas where I can find a complete DDC listing I can download?

      reply to drogers8 at https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/13eyg8p/comment/jkaksn4/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

      You can find some basic top level or second level DDC listings online, but to get the full set of listings, you've got to subscribe to the system which is updated every few years, something only library systems and large publishers typically do. To give yourself an idea of how deep this rabbit hole goes the DDC 23 is four volumes long and each volume is in the 1,000 page range. The DDC 23 self-identifies as 0.25.4'31-dc22. For most categories DDC generally only goes as deep as the thousands place (like Finsler geometry) though others will go slightly deeper usually to designate locations/cities. Most libraries only categorize to the tenths place, and sometimes these numbers can be found on the copyright page of books, often with the DDC volume number. I mentioned the UDC in that piece, but didn't give any links, but you could try:<br /> - https://udcsummary.info/php/index.php?lang=en - https://udcc.org/index.php/site/page?view=subject_coverage - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Decimal_Classification

      Honestly, you're wasting time and making way more work for yourself to adopt one of these numbering methods for a Luhmann-esque zettelkasten. Try asking yourself this question: What benefits/affordances will I get in the long run for having my numbering system mirror the DDC or UDC? (Unless you can come up with a really fantastic answer, you're just making more work to look up headings/numbers on a regular basis.)

      In practice the numbers are simply addresses so you can quickly find things again using your index. If you're doing threads of cards (folgezettel), you're going to very quickly have tangentially related ideas of things mixed together anyway. (As an example, I've got lots of science and even some anthropology mixed into my math section, so having DDC numbers on those would be generally useless at the end of the day.) If it helps, Nicolas Gatien has a pretty reasonable and short video which makes this apparent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdHH3YjOnZE.

    2. Extended numbering and why use Outline of Disciplines at all? .t3_13eyg8p._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } Several things:Why are there different listings for the Academic Outline of Disciplines? Some starts the top level with Humanities and other start with Arts which changes the numbering?I am createing an Antinet for all things. Some of the levels of the AOOD has more then 9 items so Scott's 4 digit system would not work. For some levels I would have to use two digits. Thoughts?Why even use said system? Why is it a bad reason to just start with #1 that indicates the first subject sequence, #2 for a different subject etc..?

      reply to u/drogers8 at https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/13eyg8p/extended_numbering_and_why_use_outline_of/

      Based on my research, Scott Scheper was the one of the original source for people adopting the Academic Outline of Disciplines. I've heard him say before that he recommends it only as a potential starting place for people who are new to the space and need it as a crutch to get going. It's an odd suggestion as almost all of the rest of his system is so Luhmann-based. I suspect it's a quirk of how he personally started and once moving it was easier than starting over. He also used his own ZK for showing others, and it's hard to say one thing in a teaching video when showing people something else. Ultimately it's hard to mess up on numbering choices unless you're insistent on using only whole numbers or natural numbers. I generally wouldn't suggest complex numbers either, but you might find some interesting things within your system if you did. More detail: https://boffosocko.com/2022/10/27/thoughts-on-zettelkasten-numbering-systems/ The only reason to have any standardized base or standardized numbers would be if you were attempting to have a large shared ZK with others. If this is your intent, then perhaps look at the Universal Decimal Classification, though a variety of things might also work including Dewey Decimal.

    1. Requesting advice for where to put a related idea to a note I'm currently writing .t3_13gcbj1._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } Hi! I am new to building a physical ZK. Would appreciate some help.Pictures here: https://imgur.com/a/WvyNVXfI have a section in my ZK about the concept of "knowledge transmission" (4170/7). The below notes are within that section.I am currently writing a note about how you have to earn your understanding... when receiving knowledge / learning from others. (Picture #1)Whilst writing this note, I had an idea that I'm not quite sure belongs on that note itself - and I'm not sure where it belongs. About how you also have to "earn" the sharing of knowledge. (Picture #2)Here are what I think my options are for writing about the idea "you have to earn your sharing of knowledge":Write this idea on my current card. 4170/7/1Write this idea on a new note - as a variant idea of my current note. 4170/7/1aWrite this idea on a new note - as a continuation of my current note. 4170/7/1/1Write this idea on a new note - as a new idea within my "knowledge transmission" branch. 4170/7/2What would you do here?

      reply to u/throwthis_throwthat at https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/13gcbj1/requesting_advice_for_where_to_put_a_related_idea/

      I don't accept the premise of your question. This doesn't get said often enough to people new to zettelkasten practice: Trust your gut! What does it say? You'll learn through practice that there are no "right" answers to these. Put a number on it, file it, and move on. Practice, practice, practice. You'll be doing this in your sleep soon enough. As long as it's close enough, you'll find it. Save your mental cycles for deeper thoughts than this.

      Asking others for their advice is fine, but it's akin to asking a well-practiced mnemonist what visual image they would use to remember something. Everyone is different and has different experiences and different things that make their memories sticky for them. What works incredibly well for how someone else thinks and the level of importance they give an idea is never as useful or as "true" as how you think about it. Going with your gut is going to help you remember it better and is far likelier to make it easier to find in the future.

    2. "So when they continued asking him, he lifted himself up and said to them, he who has not misfiled an idea among you, let him cast the first zettel at her." —Iēsū's zettelkasten, card 8/7,1 #John ⚡🗃️

    1. Figure 2.3 The fi xation of paper slips. (From Wellisch 1981, p. 12.)

      This is essentially a version of a modern pinboard with ribbons which are used to hold various pieces onto the board!

      Also similar in functionality to Post-it Notes, but with string instead of glue.

    1. I take a lot of notes during my day job. More like a huge amount of notes. On paper. As an experiment I started using several Dingbats* notebooks during the day job to see how they would work4 for me. After about 9 weeks of trials, I learned that I could fill up a 180 page notebook in about 3 weeks, plus or minus a few days. Unfortunately, when you factor in the cost of these notebooks, that’s like spending $1 - $2 per day on notebooks. Dingbats* are lovely, durable notebooks. But my work notes are not going to be enshrined in a museum for the ages5 and until I finally get that sponsorship from Dingbats* or Leuchtuurm19176, I probably need a different solution.

      Mark Dykeman indicates that at regular work, he fills up a 180 page notebook and at the relatively steep cost of notebooks, he's paying $1-2 a day for paper.

      This naturally brings up the idea of what it might cost per day in index cards for some zettlers' practices. I've already got some notes on price of storage...

      As a rough calculation, despite most of my note taking being done digitally, I'm going through a pack of 500 Oxford cards at $12.87 every 5 months at my current pace. This is $0.02574 per card and 5 months is roughly 150 days. My current card cost per day is: $0.02574/card * 500 cards / (150 days) = $12.78/150 days = $0.0858 per day which is far better than $2/day.

      Though if I had an all-physical card habit, I would be using quite a bit more.

      On July 3, 2022 I was at 10,099 annotations and today May 11, 2023 I'm at 15,259 annotations. At one annotation per card that's 5,160 cards in the span of 312 days giving me a cost of $0.02574/card * 5,160 cards / 312 days = $0.421 per day or an average of $153.75 per year averaging 6,036 cards per year.

      (Note that this doesn't also include the average of three physical cards a day I'm using in addition, so the total would be slightly higher.)

      Index cards are thus, quite a bit cheaper a habit than fine stationery notebooks.

    1. "[What] I like about the [zettlekasten] system is that it's a constant reminder to to make up your mind and to specify what you what you're thinking."<br /> —Sönke Ahrens, [Tinderbox Meetup - May 7, 2023 00:30:36]

    1. I'd been looking at it like a collection of knowledge. A collection that has no purpose apart from... being a collection. But Zettelkasten should be a place for creativity, playing with ideas with output as the goal (at least for me). It should be fun. And managing it definitely shouldn't take more time than using it for your purposes.


    1. How big is your ZettelKasten? .t3_13b0b5c._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      reply to u/jordynfly at https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/13b0b5c/how_big_is_your_zettelkasten/

      The idea of notes per day comes up occasionally, here's some discussion on the last go-round: https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/11z08fq/comment/jdbnchv/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

      Many people, especially when getting started, get wrapped up in the idea of doing this for "increased productivity" or the goal of being as prolific as Niklas Luhmann. I would submit (and think others would back me up anecdotally) that there's far more to the practice than raw (or measurable) productivity as the single, driving value. Perhaps approach it as a way to sharpen and improve your thinking instead? If you're seeing life-like behavior already, that's a good sign of appreciating some of the hidden benefits which are difficult to describe and which are likely more valuable than the "productivity" goals many may have.

      I've noted before that S.D. Goitein had 1/3 less index cards than Luhmann over an equivalent research lifetime, but produced a 1/3 more written output (in terms of books and journal articles). Others like Aby Warburg and Gotthard Deutsch (70,000 notes) had significant practices, but their writing output was marginal at best, though their impact and influence were outsized, in part, I would suggest as a result of their zettelkasten work.

      Others like Roland Barthes (generally low card output of \~12,500) and Deutsch also used their fichier boîte/card index/zettelkasten as teaching tools, so while their written outputs may have varied considerably, their teaching practices were incredibly influential for the students and generations they encountered afterwards.

      This being said, I'll share my current easily countable lower bound dating roughly from 2016 as:

      • 15,200 notes
      • 32,000+ links
      • 2.1M words

      (Having a zk in digital form makes it reasonably easy to do these sorts of counts versus analog methods of note making.)

      Some additional pathways to learning and practicing, including my own, can be found here: https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/11ay28d/how_did_you_teach_yourself_zettelkasten/

    2. Why are folks so obsessed with notes per day? Perhaps a proxy for toxic capitalism and productivity issues? Is the number of notes the best measure or the things they allow one to do after having made them? What is the best measure? Especially when there are those who use them for other purposes like lecturing, general growth, knowledge acquisition, or even happiness?

    1. Arno Schmidt compulsively wrote and hoarded scraps of text on index cards, which he cataloged meticulously. 130,000 of these were compiled together to form the basis for his magnum opus "Bottom's Dream". The German word for an index card is "Zettel". .t3_1267heb._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      reply to https://www.reddit.com/r/Arno_Schmidt/comments/1267heb/arno_schmidt_compulsively_wrote_and_hoarded/

      Schmidt's zettelkasten (the direct English translation would be slip box thought card index is more appropriate) (or most likely only portions of it) was featured in the 2013 "Zettelkästen. Maschinen der Phantasie" exhibition in Marbach: https://www.dla-marbach.de/presse/presse-details/news/pm-11-2013/. For the interested, the exhibition did publish a book which will likely have more details, but when I looked about a year ago, it was only available in German.

      There is a lot of research on zettelkasten methods, which are most often variations of the commonplace book method transferred into the index card or slip form rather than books/notebooks. I've not looked intensively at Schmidt's practice (yet), but it was likely similar to that of Victor Margolin outlined here, though in Margolin's case it was non-fiction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kxyy0THLfuI. Vladimir Nabokov and Michael Ende are other writers who used similar methods.

      There's some more examples/detail about the idea of zettelkasten (aka card indexes) in general on Wikipedia.

    1. For $1,900.00 ?

      reply to rogerscrafford at tk

      Fine furniture comes at a fine price. 🗃️🤩 I suspect that it won't sell for quite a while and one could potentially make an offer at a fraction of that to take it off their hands. It might bear considering that if one had a practice large enough to fill half or more, then that price probably wouldn't seem too steep for the long term security and value of the contents.

      On a price per card of storage for some of the cheaper cardboard or metal boxes you're going to pay about $0.02-0.03 per card, but you'd need about 14 of those to equal this and those aren't always easy to stack and access regularly. With this, even at the full $1,900, you're looking at storage costs of $0.10/card, but you've got a lot more ease of use which will save you a lot of time and headache as more than adequate compensation, particularly if you're regularly using the approximately 20,400 index cards it would hold. Not everyone has the same esthetic, but I suspect that most would find that this will look a lot nicer in your office than 14 cheap cardboard boxes. That many index cards even at discount rates are going to cost you about $825 just in cards much less beautiful, convenient, and highly usable storage.

      Even for some of the more prolific zettelkasten users, this sort of storage is about 20 years of use and if you compare it with $96/year for Notion or $130/year for Evernote, you're probably on par for cost either way, but at least with the wooden option, you don't have to worry about your note storage provider going out of business a few years down the line. Even if you go the "free" Obsidian route, with computers/storage/backups over time, you're probably not going to come out ahead in the long run. It's not all apples to apples comparison and there are differences in some of the affordances, but on balance and put into some perspective, it's probably not the steep investment it may seem.

      And as an added bonus, while you're slowly filling up drawers, as a writer you might appreciate the slowly decreasing wine/whiskey bottle storage over time? A 5 x 8 drawer ought to fit three bottles of wine or as many fifths of Scotch. It'll definitely accommodate a couple of magnums of Jack Daniels. 🥃🍸🍷My experience also tells me that an old fashioned glass can make a convenient following block in card index boxes.

      A crystal old fashioned glass serves as a following block to some index cards and card dividers in a Shaw-Walker card index box (zettelkasten). On the table next to the index are a fifth of Scotch (Glenmorangie) and a bowl of lemons.

    1. A repository, especially of knowledge or information.


      This could be a fine English translation of the German word Zettelkasten.

      The relationship to bees here is fascinating with respect to the commonplace tradition as well.

    1. Alternative numbering and classifications .t3_132o4w7._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } Although Wikipedia Outline of academic disciplines seems like an ok place to start, it seems not ideal. Are there any guides I could use to develop my own numbering? I'm a historian, so treating it as a subcategory is not ideal, especially given how diverse this field is when it comes to its scope (what I mean by that is that you can divide history into many subcategories by period, field, geography etc.) I've taken a look at Propædia, which provides some interesting categories, but again, some of which are no interest to me (in terms of making notes about them).TLDR; Do you have any times for developing personal numbering system for your notes using decimal system? I'm developing ideas for my thesis and future dissertation, so I could arrange my notes around categories that, but I'd like to still have place for notes outside this spectrum (ideas for future papers etc.).

      reply to u/zielkarz at https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/132o4w7/alternative_numbering_and_classifications/

      Assigning random decimal numbers is more than adequate and is roughly what you'll have in the long term anyway... see https://boffosocko.com/2022/10/27/thoughts-on-zettelkasten-numbering-systems/ for some of what I've written on this before.

      Because of the way that the topology of dense sets work in the real (decimal) numbers, any topic you give a number can be made arbitrarily close to any other topic you choose. As a result the numbers you choose are generally inconsequential, so simply choose something that you feel makes sense to you.

  3. Apr 2023
    1. Each book was assigned a call number which identified the subject and location, with a decimal point dividing different sections of the call number.

      Why do people not generally use the name "call number" when referring to the numbers on their Niklas Luhmann-esque zettelkasten cards?

    1. Any good anti-net programs and Android apps out there? .t3_1301mhl._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } I think that I will get an idea of how to go about doing the anti-net note-taking system with an example done by a program. Also with the use of an Android app. Any recommendations for both my phone and my computer? If both of them may be free. Any feedback is welcome.

      reply to u/MisterTTS at https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/1301mhl/any_good_antinet_programs_and_android_apps_out/

      I've searched for ages, built programs for myself, and come to the conclusion that there is no really good app or workflow that will allow you to do both paper and digital at the same time without a lot of extra unnecessary repetitive work that doesn't provide you with tangible benefit to pay for itself. The best bet currently to save yourself a lot of time and headache is to pick one or the other and just go with it.

    1. In case some haven't been watching, I'll mention that Simon Winchester's new book Knowing What We Know on knowledge to transmission was published by Harper on April 25th in North America. For zettelkasten fans, you'll note that it has some familiar references and suggested readings including by our friends Markus Krajewski, Ann Blair, Iaian McGilchrist, Alex Wright, Anthony Grafton, Dennis Duncan, and Mortimer J. Adler to name but a few.

      Many are certain to know his award winning 1998 book The Professor and the Madman which was also transformed into the eponymous 2019 film starring Sean Penn. Though he didn't use the German word zettelkasten in the book, he tells the story of philologist James Murray's late 1800s collaborative 6 million+ slip box collection of words and sentences which when edited into a text is better known today as the Oxford English Dictionary.

      If you need some additional motivation to check out his book, I'll use the fact that Winchester, as a writer, is one of the most talented non-linear storytellers I've ever come across, something which many who focus on zettelkasten output may have a keen interest in studying.

      Knowing What We Know

      Syndication Link: https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/2558/knowing-what-we-know-the-transmission-of-knowledge-from-ancient-wisdom-to-modern-magic/p1?new=1

    1. Brainstorming: Cover for the Second Edition

      Somehow I've always been disappointed with the two dimensional aspects of the pseudo-diagrams on prior books and articles in the space. If you go with something conceptual, perhaps try to capture a multidimensional systems/network feel? It's difficult to capture the ideas of serendipity and combinatorial complexity at play, but I'd love to see those somehow as the "sexier" ideas over the drab ideas people have when they think of their mundane conceptualizations of "just" notes.

      Another idea may be to not go in the direction of the dot/line network map or "electronics circuit board route", but go back to the older ideas of clockworks, pneumatics, and steampunk...

      By way of analogy, there's something sort of fun and suggestive about a person operating a Jacquard Loom to take threads (ideas) and fashioning something beautiful (https://photos.com/featured/jacquard-loom-with-swags-of-punched-print-collector.html) or maybe think, "How would John Underkoffler imagine such a machine?"

      Now that I'm thinking about it I want a bookwheel (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bookwheel) next to my zettelkasten wheel!

    1. How I annotate books as a PhD student (simple and efficient)

      She's definitely not morally against writing in her books, but there are so many highlights and underlining that it's almost useless.

      She read the book four times because she didn't take good enough notes on it the first three times.

      Bruno Latour's Down to Earth

      Tools: - sticky tags (reusable) - purple for things that draw attention - yellow/green referencing sources, often in bibliography - pink/orange - extremely important - highlighter - Post It notes with longer thoughts she's likely to forget, but also for writing summaries in her own words

      Interesting to see another Bruno Latour reference hiding in a note taking context. See https://hypothes.is/a/EbNKbLIaEe27q0dhRVXUGQ


    1. Zettelkasten - How Categories Emerge by Nicolas Gatien

      Gatien uses Scheper's suggested top level categories, but shows that it doesn't take long for things to end up in dramatically disparate areas. As a result, why bother with a pre-defined set of categories in the first place?


    1. I recently watched the documentary Aby Warburg: Metamorphosis and Memory (Wechsler, 2016) via Kanopy (for free using my local library’s gateway) and thought that others here interested in the ideas of memory in culture, history, and art history may appreciate it. While a broad biography of a seminal figure in the development of art history in the early 20th century, there are some interesting bits relating to art and memory as well as a mention of Frances A. Yates whose research on memory was influenced by Warburg’s library.

      Of specific "note” is the fact that Aby Warburg (1866-1929) had a significant zettelkasten-based note taking practice and portions of his collection (both written as well as images) are featured within the hour long documentary. You'll see it in the opening scenes in the background during many of the interviews, but there's also a portion featured at the 30 minute mark which looks at a few of his zettels. Like several other zettelkasten practitioners he had a significant zettelkasten practice but did not publish much, but did lecture quite a lot and had outsized influence both during his life as well as posthumously and his zettelkasten and research remain as an archive for scholars who still study and extend his work.

      Sadly, I'm unable to catch any screenshots from the film due to technical glitches, but if folks can figure out how to pull some out, I'd appreciate them.

      Aby Warburg's extant zettelkasten at the Warburg Institute's Archive consists of ninety-six surviving boxes (of 104 or possibly more) which contain between 200-800 individually numbered index cards. Dividers and envelopes are used within the boxes to separate the cards into thematic sections.

      The digitized version is transcribed in the original German and is not available translated into English (at least as of 2023). The digitized version maintains the structure of the dividers and consists of only about 3,200 items. It can be searched at https://wi-calm.sas.ac.uk/CalmView/Aboutcatalogue.aspx. As examples one can find the record for box 4a on "the Renaissance" at https://wi-calm.sas.ac.uk/CalmView/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=WIA+III.2.1.+ZK%2f4a&pos=1 and the physical divider inside box 4a for "Jakob Burkhardt" with subsections listed at https://wi-calm.sas.ac.uk/CalmView/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=WIA+III.2.1.+ZK%2f4a%2f2&pos=1

      The Warburg Institute archive had this sample photo of some of his decorative/colorful boxes:

      Has anyone visited the Warburg archive in London before?

      syndication link

    1. https://wi-calm.sas.ac.uk/CalmView/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=WIA+III.2.1.+ZK%2f4a%2f2&pos=1

      An example of a digital record of a physical divider in Aby Warburg's zettelkasten for Jakob Burkhardt with subsections listed.

      Ref No: WIA III.2.1. ZK/4a/2<br /> Title: Jakob Burkhardt Briefe<br /> Physical Description: Divider<br /> Contents: Subsections: 1rst level: Vorträg Burckhardt 1927 Sommersemester [appr. 56 items, numbered and unnumbered]; 2nd level: Burckhardt an Nietzsche; 3rd level: Brief Nietzsches an Burckhardt 6 Januar 1889. 2nd level: Jakob Burckhardt und die nordische Kunst Conversations Lexikon, Burckhardt Festwesen, zu Rougemont Cicerone, Wanderer in der Schweiz, Hedlinger, Hedlinger.

    1. Collection of Index Card Boxes (Zettelkästen) Aby Warburg’s collection of index cards (III.2.1.ZK), containing notes, bibliographical references, printed material and letters, was compiled throughout the scholar’s life. Ninety-six boxes survive, each containing between 200 and 800 individually numbered index cards. Cardboard dividers and envelopes group these index cards into thematic sections. The online catalogue reproduces the structure of the dividers and sub-dividers with their original titles in German and consists of about 3,200 items. Since the titles are transcribed (and not translated into English) you can only search for words in the original German.


      Aby Warburg's extant zettelkasten at the Warburg Institute's Archive consists of ninety-six surviving boxes which contain between 200-800 individually numbered index cards. Dividers and envelopes are used within the boxes to separate the cards into thematic sections.

      The digitized version is transcribed in the original German and is not available translated into English (at least as of 2023). The digitized version maintains the structure of the dividers and consists of only about 3,200 items.

    1. A full catalogue of Aby Warburg's correspondence, the Institute's correspondence up to 1933 and Warburg's index card boxes is available online through the Warburg Institute Archive online database.

      A full catalog of Aby Warburg's 104 index card boxes (reference: WIA III.2.1.ZK) are available online by way of The Warburg Institute's online database at http://wi-calm.sas.ac.uk/calmview/. They are catalogued at the file level.

      via https://warburg.sas.ac.uk/archive/archive-online-catalogues

    1. does my zettelkasten make writing... harder?

      Worried about self-plagiarizing in the future? Others like Hans Blumenberg have struck through used cards with red pencil. This could also be done with metadata or other searchable means in the digital realm as well. (See: https://hypothes.is/a/mT8Twk2cEe2bvj8lq2Lgpw)

      General problems she faces: 1. Notetaking vs. writing voice (shifting between one and another and not just copy/pasting) 2. discovery during writing (put new ideas into ZK as you go or just keep writing on the page when the muse strikes) 3. Linearity of output: books are linear and ZK is not

      Using transclusion may help in the initial draft/zero draft?<br /> ie: ![[example]] (This was mentioned in the comments as well.)

      directional vs. indirectional notes - see Sascha Fast's article

      Borrowing from the telecom/cable industry, one might call this the zettelkasten "last mile problem". I've also referred to it in the past as the zettelkasten output problem. (See also the description and comments at https://boffosocko.com/2022/07/12/call-for-model-examples-of-zettelkasten-output-processes/ as well as some of the examples linked at https://boffosocko.com/research/zettelkasten-commonplace-books-and-note-taking-collection/)

      Many journal articles that review books (written in English) in the last half of the 20th century which include the word zettelkasten have a negative connotation with respect to ZK and frequently mention the problem that researchers/book writers have of "tipping out their ZKs" without the outlining and argument building/editing work to make their texts more comprehensible or understandable.

      Ward Cunningham has spoken in the past about the idea of a Markov Monkey who can traverse one's atomic notes in a variety of paths (like a Choose Your Own Adventure, but the monkey knows all the potential paths). The thesis in some sense is the author choosing a potential "best" path (a form of "travelling salesperson problem), for a specific audience, who presumably may have some context of the general area.

      Many mention Sonke Ahrens' book, but fail to notice Umberto Eco's How to Write a Thesis (MIT, 2015) and Gerald Weinberg's "The Fieldstone Method (Dorset House, 2005) which touch a bit on these composition problems.

      I'm not exactly sure of the particulars and perhaps there isn't enough historical data to prove one direction or another, but Wittgenstein left behind a zettelkasten which his intellectual heirs published as a book. In it they posit (in the introduction) that rather than it being a notetaking store which he used to compose longer works, that the seeming similarities between the ideas in his zettelkasten and some of his typescripts were the result of him taking his typescripts and cutting them up to put into his zettelkasten. It may be difficult to know which direction was which, but my working hypothesis is that the only way it could have been ideas from typescripts into his zettelkasten would have been if he was a "pantser", to use your terminology, and he was chopping up ideas from his discovery writing to place into contexts within his zettelkasten for later use. Perhaps access to the original physical materials may be helpful in determining which way he was moving. Cross reference: https://hypothes.is/a/BptoKsRPEe2zuW8MRUY1hw

      Some helpful examples: - academia : Victor Margolin - fiction/screenwriting: - Dustin Lance Black - Vladimir Nabokov - others...

    2. Also I really want to see the someone using their zettlekasten for managing knowledge about stuff not zettlekasten related. Mine mainly revolves about artistic appretiation, creativity and art fundamentals. I've been wanting to make a video series about it, just havent find the time. Your videos serve much as inspiration and as example of how may I go about it.

      reply to Sara Martínez at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQPvrcksjUA&lc=UgzbdJ1cdxkjnN0DBOl4AaABAg

      Sara, here are some creative/art-related examples that might help:<br /> Dancer/Choreographer Twyla Tharp used a slightly modified slip box method that included much more than notes on cards for her dance-related work. She describes the process well in chapter 6 of her book "The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life".

      If you're into art and image-based work, Aby Warburg had a zettelkasten with images. Search for details on his "Mnemosyne Atlas" at The Warburg Institute at the School of Advanced Study University of London which has some material you may appreciate.

      Product designer khimtan has a visual zettelkasten practice you can find examples of on Reddit in the "Antinet" sub.

      A variety of comedians like Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers, Bob Hope, and George Carlin had zettelkasten practices for their comedy work.

      Eminem has a fantastic, but tremendously simple zettelkasten for songwriting. Taylor Swift has a somewhat similar digital version which she has talked about using, though she doesn't use the word zettelkasten to describe it.

      syndication link

    3. Tara Brabazon

      She may have some material on her YouTube channel on the zettelkasten output problem.

    1. Llewelyn, J. E. “Zettel. By Ludwig Wittgenstein. Edited by G. E. M. Anscombe and G. H. von Wright. Translated by G. E. M. Anscombe. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell. 1967. Pp. v + ve + 124 + 124e. Price 37s 6d).” The Philosophical Quarterly 18, no. 71 (April 1968): 176. https://doi.org/10.2307/2217524.

    1. natural one: we firstmust find something to say, then organize our material, and then put it intowords.

      Finding something to say within a zettelkasten-based writing framework is relatively easy. One is regularly writing down their ideas with respect to other authors as part of "the great conversation" and providing at least a preliminary arrangement. As part of their conversation they're putting these ideas into words right from the start.

      These all follow the basic pillars of classic rhetoric, though one might profitably take their preliminary written notes and continue refining the arrangement as well as the style of the writing as they proceed to finished product.

    2. one must also submit to the discipline provided by imitationand practice.

      Too many zettelkasten aspirants only want the presupposed "rules" for keeping one or are interested in imitating one or another examples. Few have interest in the actual day to day practice and these are often the most adept. Of course the downside of learning some of the pieces online leaves the learner with some (often broken) subset of rules and one or two examples (often only theoretical) and then wonder why their actual practice is left so wanting.

      link to https://hypothes.is/a/ZeZEgNm8Ee2woUds5QzgOw

    1. Benefits of sharing permanent notes .t3_12gadut._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      reply to u/bestlunchtoday at https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/12gadut/benefits_of_sharing_permanent_notes/

      I love the diversity of ideas here! So many different ways to do it all and perspectives on the pros/cons. It's all incredibly idiosyncratic, just like our notes.

      I probably default to a far extreme of sharing the vast majority of my notes openly to the public (at least the ones taken digitally which account for probably 95%). You can find them here: https://hypothes.is/users/chrisaldrich.

      Not many people notice or care, but I do know that a small handful follow and occasionally reply to them or email me questions. One or two people actually subscribe to them via RSS, and at least one has said that they know more about me, what I'm reading, what I'm interested in, and who I am by reading these over time. (I also personally follow a handful of people and tags there myself.) Some have remarked at how they appreciate watching my notes over time and then seeing the longer writing pieces they were integrated into. Some novice note takers have mentioned how much they appreciate being able to watch such a process of note taking turned into composition as examples which they might follow. Some just like a particular niche topic and follow it as a tag (so if you were interested in zettelkasten perhaps?) Why should I hide my conversation with the authors I read, or with my own zettelkasten unless it really needed to be private? Couldn't/shouldn't it all be part of "The Great Conversation"? The tougher part may be having means of appropriately focusing on and sharing this conversation without some of the ills and attention economy practices which plague the social space presently.

      There are a few notes here on this post that talk about social media and how this plays a role in making them public or not. I suppose that if I were putting it all on a popular platform like Twitter or Instagram then the use of the notes would be or could be considered more performative. Since mine are on what I would call a very quiet pseudo-social network, but one specifically intended for note taking, they tend to be far less performative in nature and the majority of the focus is solely on what I want to make and use them for. I have the opportunity and ability to make some private and occasionally do so. Perhaps if the traffic and notice of them became more prominent I would change my habits, but generally it has been a net positive to have put my sensemaking out into the public, though I will admit that I have a lot of privilege to be able to do so.

      Of course for those who just want my longer form stuff, there's a website/blog for that, though personally I think all the fun ideas at the bleeding edge are in my notes.

      Since some (u/deafpolygon, u/Magnifico99, and u/thiefspy; cc: u/FastSascha, u/A_Dull_Significance) have mentioned social media, Instagram, and journalists, I'll share a relevant old note with an example, which is also simultaneously an example of the benefit of having public notes to be able to point at, which u/PantsMcFail2 also does here with one of Andy Matuschak's public notes:

      [Prominent] Journalist John Dickerson indicates that he uses Instagram as a commonplace: https://www.instagram.com/jfdlibrary/ here he keeps a collection of photo "cards" with quotes from famous people rather than photos. He also keeps collections there of photos of notes from scraps of paper as well as photos of annotations he makes in books.

      It's reasonably well known that Ronald Reagan shared some of his personal notes and collected quotations with his speechwriting staff while he was President. I would say that this and other similar examples of collaborative zettelkasten or collaborative note taking and their uses would blunt u/deafpolygon's argument that shared notes (online or otherwise) are either just (or only) a wiki. The forms are somewhat similar, but not all exactly the same. I suspect others could add to these examples.

      And of course if you've been following along with all of my links, you'll have found yourself reading not only these words here, but also reading some of a directed conversation with entry points into my own personal zettelkasten, which you can also query as you like. I hope it has helped to increase the depth and level of the conversation, should you choose to enter into it. It's an open enough one that folks can pick and choose their own path through it as their interests dictate.

    1. To buy or not to buy a course? And, if the latter, which one? .t3_12fowjy._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } questionSo, I've been considering buying an online course for Zettelkasten (in Obsidian). Thing is... There are a bunch of them. Two (maybe three) questions:Is it worth it? Has anyone gone down that path and care to share their experience?Any recommendations? I've seen a bunch of options and really don't have any hints on how to evaluate them.

      reply to u/Accomplished-Tip-597 at https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/12fowjy/to_buy_or_not_to_buy_a_course_and_if_the_latter/

      Which "industry", though? Productivity? Personal Knowledge Management? Neither of these are focused on the idea of a Luhmann-esque specific zettelkastenare they?

      For the original poster, what is your goal in taking a course? What do you want to get out of it? What are you going to use such a system for? The advice you're looking for will hinge on these.

      Everyone's use is going to be reasonably idiosyncratic, so not knowing anything else, my general recommendation (to minimize time, effort, and expense) would be to read one of the following (for free), practice at some of it for a few weeks before you do anything else. Then if you need it, talk u/taurusnoises into a few consultations based on what you'd like to accomplish. He's one of the few who does this who's got experience in the widest variety of traditions in addition to expertise in the platform you want (though I'd still recommend him if you were using something else.)

    1. TheSyntopicon invites the reader to make on the set whatever demands arisefrom his own problems and interests. It is constructed to enable the reader,nomatter what the stages of his reading in other ways, to find that part of theGreat Conversation in which any topic that interests him is being discussed.

      While the Syntopicon ultimately appears in book form, one must recall that it started life as a paper slip-based card index (Life v24, issue 4, 1948). This index can be queried in some of the ways one might have queried a library card catalog or more specifically the way in which Niklas Luhmann indicated that he queried his zettelkasten (Luhmann,1981). Unlike a library card catalog, The Syntopicon would not only provide a variety of entry places within the Western canon to begin their search for answers, but would provide specific page numbers and passages rather than references to entire books.

      The Syntopicon invites the reader to make on the set whatever demands arise from his own problems and interests. It is constructed to enable the reader, no matter what the stages of his reading in other ways, to find that part of the Great Conversation in which any topic that interests him is being discussed. (p. 85)

      While the search space for the Syntopicon wasn't as large as the corpus covered by larger search engines of the 21st century, the work that went into making it and the depth and focus of the sources make it a much more valuable search tool from a humanistic perspective. This work and value can also be seen in a personal zettelkasten. Some of the value appears in the form of having previously built a store of contextualized knowledge, particularly in cases where some ideas have been forgotten or not easily called to mind, which serves as a context ratchet upon which to continue exploring and building.

    1. Luhmann, Niklas. “Improved Translation of ‘Communications with Zettelkastens.’” Translated by Sascha Fast. Zettelkasten Method, April 5, 2023. https://zettelkasten.de/communications-with-zettelkastens/.

    2. I decided to translate the German “Zettelkasten” as “Zettelkasten” since I consider this an established term.

      An example of a bi-lingual German-English speaker/writer specifically translating and using Zettelkasten as an established word in English.

    3. Without variation on given ideas, there are no possibilities of scrutiny and selection of innovations. Therefore, the actual challenge becomes generating incidents with sufficiently high chances of selection.

      The value of a zettelkasten is as a tool to actively force combinatorial creativity—the goal is to create accidents or collisions of ideas which might have a high chance of being discovered and selected for.

    4. Compared to this structure that offers actualizable connection possibilities, the relevance of the actual content of the note subsides. Much of it quickly becomes useless or is unusable for a concrete occasion. That is true for both collected quotes, which are only worth collecting when they are exceptionally concise, and for your own thoughts.

      Luhmann felt that quotations aren't worth collecting unless they were "exceptionally concise, and for your own thoughts."

    5. The Zettelkasten needs a couple of years to reach critical mass.

      I find that this is not the case. Even a few hundred cards is more than enough to create something interesting.

      Though what does he mean specifically by "critical mass"?

    6. A Zettelkasten that is constructed based on our instructions can achieve high independence. There may be other ways to achieve this goal. The described reduction to a fixed-placement (but merely formal) order, and the corresponding combination of order and disorder, is at least one of them.

      The structural components of Luhmann's zettelkasten which allow for "achieving high independence" are also the same structures found in an indexed commonplace book: namely fixed placement (formally by the order in which things are found and collected) as well as combinations of order and disorder (the methods by which they can be retrieved and read).

    7. Similarly, you must give up the assumption that there are privileged places, notes of special and knowledge-ensuring quality. Each note is just an element that gets its value from being a part of a network of references and cross-references in the system. A note that is not connected to this network will get lost in the Zettelkasten, and will be forgotten by the Zettelkasten.

      This section is almost exactly the same as Umberto Eco's description of a slip box practice:

      No piece of information is superior to any other. Power lies in having them all on file and then finding the connections. There are always connections; you have only to want to find them. -- Umberto Eco. Foucault's Pendulum

      See: https://hypothes.is/a/jqug2tNlEeyg2JfEczmepw

      Interestingly, these structures map reasonably well onto Paul Baran's work from 1964: Paul Baran's graphs for Centralized, Decentralized, and Distributed systems

      The subject heading based filing system looks and functions a lot like a centralized system where the center (on a per topic basis) is the subject heading or topical category and the notes related to that section are filed within it. Luhmann's zettelkasten has the feel of a mixture of the decentralized and distributed graphs, but each sub-portion has its own topology. The index is decentralized in nature, while the bibliographical section/notes are all somewhat centralized in form.

      Cross reference:<br /> Baran, Paul. “On Distributed Communications: I. Introduction to Distributed Communications Networks.” Research Memoranda. Santa Monica, California: RAND Corporation, August 1964. https://doi.org/10.7249/RM3420.

    8. (Alternating numbers and letters helps the memory and may be an optical aid when searching notes, but is of course not enough).

      The alternation of letters and numbers helps to create some visual differentiation of various branches, but how does it help the memory? Help as in it's easier to search for these sorts of combinations versus remembering strings of only numbers?

    9. A content-based system (like a book’s table of contents) would mean that you would have to adhere to a single structure forever (decades in advance!).

      Starting a zettelkasten practice with a table of contents as the primary organization is difficult due to planning in advance.

    10. There are two ways for a communication system to maintain its integrity over long periods of time: you need to decide for either highly technical specialisation, or for a setup that incorporates coincidence and ad hoc generated information. Translated to note collections: you can choose a setup categorized by topics, or an open one. We chose the latter and, after 26 successful years with only occasionally difficult teamwork, we can report that this way is successful – or at least possible.

      Luhmann indicates that there are different methods for keeping note collections and specifically mentions categorizing things by topics first. It's only after this that he mentions his own "open" system as being a possible or successful one.

    1. How do I store when coming across an actual FACT? .t3_12bvcmn._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } questionLet's say I am trying to absorb a 30min documentary about the importance of sleep and the term human body cells is being mentioned, I want to remember what a "Cell" is so I make a note "What is a Cell in a Human Body?", search the google, find the definition and paste it into this note, my concern is, what is this note considered, a fleeting, literature, or permanent? how do I tag it...

      reply to u/iamharunjonuzi at https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/12bvcmn/how_do_i_store_when_coming_across_an_actual_fact/

      How central is the fact to what you're working at potentially developing? Often for what may seem like basic facts that are broadly useful, but not specific to things I'm actively developing, I'll leave basic facts like that as short notes on the source/reference cards (some may say literature notes) where I found them rather than writing them out in full as their own cards.

      If I were a future biologist, as a student I might consider that I would soon know really well what a cell was and not bother to have a primary zettel on something so commonplace unless I was collecting various definitions to compare and contrast for something specific. Alternately as a non-biologist or someone that doesn't use the idea frequently, then perhaps it may merit more space for connecting to others?

      Of course you can always have it written along with the original source and "promote" it to its own card later if you feel it's necessary, so you're covered either way. I tend to put the most interesting and surprising ideas into my main box to try to maximize what comes back out of it. If there were 2 more interesting ideas than the definition of cell in that documentary, then I would probably leave the definition with the source and focus on the more important ideas as their own zettels.

      As a rule of thumb, for those familiar with Bloom's taxonomy in education, I tend to leave the lower level learning-based notes relating to remembering and understanding as shorter (literature) notes on the source's reference card and use the main cards for the higher levels (apply, analyze, evaluate, create).

      Ultimately, time, practice, and experience will help you determine for yourself what is most useful and where. Until you've developed a feel for what works best for you, just write it down somewhere and you can't really go too far wrong.

  4. Mar 2023
    1. zettelkasten

      (free of this context, but I need somewhere just to place this potential title/phrase...)

      Purpose Driven Zettelkasten

    1. In the fall of 2015, she assigned students to write chapter introductions and translate some texts into modern English.

      continuing from https://hypothes.is/a/ddn4qs8mEe2gkq_1T7i3_Q

      Potential assignments:

      Students could be tasked with finding new material or working off of a pre-existing list.

      They could individually be responsible for indexing each individual sub-text within a corpus by: - providing a full bibliography; - identifying free areas of access for various versions (websites, Archive.org, Gutenberg, other OER corpora, etc.); Which is best, why? If not already digitized, then find a copy and create a digital version for inclusion into an appropriate repository. - summarizing the source in general and providing links to how it fits into the broader potential corpus for the class. - tagging it with relevant taxonomies to make it more easily searchable/selectable within its area of study - editing a definitive version of the text or providing better (digital/sharable) versions for archiving into OER repositories, Project Gutenberg, Archive.org, https://standardebooks.org/, etc. - identifying interesting/appropriate tangential texts which either support/refute their current text - annotating their specific text and providing links and cross references to other related texts either within their classes' choices or exterior to them for potential future uses by both students and teachers.

      Some of this is already with DeRosa's framework, but emphasis could be on building additional runway and framing for helping professors and students to do this sort of work in the future. How might we create repositories that allow one a smörgåsbord of indexed data to relatively easily/quickly allow a classroom to pick and choose texts to make up their textbook in a first meeting and be able to modify it as they go? Or perhaps a teacher could create an outline of topics to cover along with a handful of required ones and then allow students to pick and choose from options in between along the way. This might also help students have options within a course to make the class more interesting and relevant to their own interests, lives, and futures.

      Don't allow students to just "build their own major", but allow them to build their own textbooks and syllabi with some appropriate and reasonable scaffolding.

    2. In the fall of 2015, she assigned students to write chapter introductions and translate some texts into modern English.

      Perhaps of interest here, would not be a specific OER text, but an OER zettelkasten or card index that indexes a variety of potential public domain or open resources, articles, pieces, primary documents, or other short readings which could then be aggregated and tagged to allow for a teacher or student to create their own personalized OER text for a particular area of work.

      If done well, a professor might then pick and choose from a wide variety of resources to build their own reader to highlight or supplement the material they're teaching. This could allow a wider variety of thinking and interlinking of ideas. With such a regiment, teachers are less likely to become bored with their material and might help to actively create new ideas and research lines as they teach.

      Students could then be tasked with and guided to creating a level of cohesiveness to their readings as they progress rather than being served up a pre-prepared meal with a layer of preconceived notions and frameworks imposed upon the text by a single voice.

      This could encourage students to develop their own voices as well as to look at materials more critically as they proceed rather than being spoon fed calcified ideas.

    1. A sample of the note cards the scholars are using to assemble the comprehensive Latin dictionary. Courtesy of Samuel Beckelhymer. hide caption toggle caption Courtesy of Samuel Beckelhymer.

    2. The archive contains boxes filled with notes on each Latin word. In most cases, the scholars made the notes more than a century ago. Courtesy of Nigel Holmes hide caption toggle caption Courtesy of Nigel Holmes

    3. Stefano Rocchi, a researcher on the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, the comprehensive Latin dictionary that has been in the works since 1894 in Germany. Researchers are currently working on the letters N and R. They don't expect to finish until around 2050. BAdW/Foto Janina Amendt hide caption toggle caption BAdW/Foto Janina Amendt

    4. They both talk, though, about going over material again and again. The process of writing an article involves putting words in chronological order, but also creating branching, sub-dividing trees of syntax and semantics.

      Interesting to see a reference the branching nature of the meanings of an individual word which has multiple ways of being categorized.

      The TLL categorizes words alphabetically first and then by chronologically second. The rest of the structure shakes out from there as editors write articles for each of the words.

    1. The TLL was moved to a monastery in Bavaria during WWII because they were worried that the building that contained the zettelkasten would be bombed and it actually was.

      The slips have been microfilmed and a copy of them is on store at Princeton as a back up just i case.


    2. Remember the Thesaurus is a work of the human brain and therefore it is fallible. —Kathleen M. Coleman

      replace Thesaurus with zettelkasten...

    3. Basic statistics regarding the TLL: - ancient Latin vocabulary words: ca. 55,000 words - 10,000,000 slips - ca. 6,500 boxes - ca. 1,500 slips per box - library 32,000 volumes - contributors: 375 scholars from 20 different countries - 12 Indo-European specalists - 8 Romance specialists - 100 proof-readers - ca. 44,000 words published - published content: 70% of the entire vocabulary - print run: 1,350 - Publisher: consortium of 35 academies from 27 countries on 5 continents

      Longest remaining words: - non / 37 boxes of ca 55,500 slips - qui, quae, quod / 65 boxes of ca. 96,000 slips - sum, esse, fui / 54.5 boxes of ca. 81,750 slips - ut / 35 boxes of ca 52,500 slips

      Note that some of these words have individual zettelkasten for themselves approaching the size of some of the largest personal collections we know about!


    4. The Thesaurus Linguae Latinae used the Meusel system for creating Zettel by utilizing double folio sheets onto which they copied text in hectographic ink which can be reproduced by lithography before cutting them up into slips.

      Done alphabetically and then secondarily by chronological time. (Indicated in a box on the top left of each slip.) The number of copies of each slip is written in the bottom left hand corner and circled.

    1. Based on the history and usage of horreum here in this first episode of the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae podcast, a project featuring a 10+ million slip zettelkasten at its core, I can't help but think that not only is the word ever so apropos for an introduction, but it does quite make an excellent word for translating the idea of card index in English or Zettelkasten from German into Latin.

      My horreum is a storehouse for my thoughts and ideas which nourishes my desire to discover and build upon my knowledge.

      This seems to be just the sort of thing that Jeremy Cherfas might appreciate on multiple levels.


    1. The advent of computer technology facilitated the assembly of the Demotic Dictionary, which unlike its older sister, the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, could be organized electronically rather than on index cards.

      The Chicago Demotic Dictionary compiled by the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago was facilitated by computers compared with the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary which relied on index cards.

    1. Hayes, William C. Review of Historical Records of Rameses III, by William F. Edgerton and John A. Wilson. American Journal of Archaeology 40, no. 4 (1936): 558–59. https://doi.org/10.2307/498809.


      ...have been diligently consulted and compared with the present versions and the authors have also availed themselves of the invaluable material contained in the Zettelkasten of the Berlin Wirterbuch der...

      This is the oldest appearance of the word "Zettelkasten" appearing in a journal article which I could find on JSTOR.

      I'm not surprised it's in a journal in the humanities and specifically on archaeology.

      Update: even better, this has introduced me to a massive new ZK: Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache!

      Where is Indiana Jones' zettelkasten?!