Does anyone have any good examples they've seen?
But I don't know how much of the advantage of the Zettelkasten is tied to its being in the physical realm. On the one hand, the more physically rich an experience (of browsing or traversing or entering info for example), the more it will tend to stick in memory. On the other hand one of the things computers are good at is remembering indexes and linking them to other places where that index was mentioned.
I think part of what can make the concept hard to see in practice, is that it's both the Zettelkasten artifact, and your methodology for adding and linking concepts when you're learning
But there was one article standing out: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/NfdHG6oHBJ8Qxc26s/the-zettel...
It is a wall of text too but the best explanation I've found yet.
Again, I get the concept, but I want to see examples in use.
Regards Zettlekasten itself: the key notion to me is simply capture and reference. Those are the dual-natured heart of the system.
The rest is just mechanics. Important mechanics, in cases, but mechanics all the same.
I learn best by example, personally, and I’ve never seen good examples on this topic myself.
As such, one might wish to instead consider using Hypertext Fiction tools for creating a Zettelkasten, such these two (proprietary software, Mac OS X only, unfortunately):
Note that there exists an EXTREMELY useful plugin for Tinderbox which implements Stretchtext:
Now gimme a combination of what roamresearch.com does with the above, but using the data structure of Hode:
But with support for zzstructure like hyperthogonality:
And secretly use the patching patches feature of pijul.org in the background so version control actually becomes sanely doable, throw in elastic tab stop support, and maybe an entire kitchensink in which someone let a mixture of ChrysaLisp, SmallTalk, Hazel, Scala 3, /r/nosyntax, Inferno, RINA, GNUnet, & every single proof assistant and theorem prover sit for a tad bit long, and then MAYBE we can stop living in the dark ages of computing.
(Yes I'm bitter)
Identity Transclusion ≠ Instance Transclusion
Thanks for the links! I'll check the rest out.
- How many of things I know nothing about should I have.
- Don't use this aspect in the thing, use the other.
And every article is a text wall of minutia addressing questions which are going to be relevant later on, but are just information overload if you try to understand What is it?
As a backend engineer, I just think: "Man, this data is just sitting in a db somewhere for any engineer to grep." Until we get to a point where everything is just encrypted by default, I just can't see myself trusting software like this.
But, yeah, when it works it's very nice indeed.
You can probably still find some in use among retired professors who started their careers 60 years ago and already had a system in place when computers started to replace physical organization systems.
Nowadays there are still many people who use digital equivalents.
Zettel 1: https://niklas-luhmann-archiv.de/bestand/zettelkasten/zettel...
At the time I used my own translation (based on the text in Short Cuts published by Zweitausendeins), but I see somebody else has now translated (most of) it here: https://takingnotenow.blogspot.com/2007/12/luhmann-on-learni...
Btw, there is an own homepage of the book: https://takesmartnotes.com/
It's possible to tweak deft and org-mode a bit with some functions to make it very Zettelkasten like: https://efls.github.io/zetteldeft
Perhaps I went about it all wrong, but I loved the theory but didn't find the particular application useful. I also found absolutely no examples of a real life Zettelkasten online anywhere. None. I couldn't even compare to see if I was doing it wrong because it seems to be the sort of thing that everyone writes about but no one practices.
More so, I absolutely wouldn't want to use a new third party app for my knowledge repository. Who knows wether or not it'll still be in development or even supported in a year.
1. Create a board with a single “Dump” column
2. Create cards in the Dump column (or “share” to the column whenever I read something online)
3. Every week, categorise the card into new columns. Each column was a broad category like “Philosophy” and “Startup ideas”
4. When the board became unwieldy, with too many columns, I created a new board (Philosophy) and split the categories/columns again (Stoicism and Nihilism)
The act of reorganising the board was super useful for remembering everything, a bit like spaced repitition
I've been using TiddlyWiki for almost a year. Most of my 400 Tiddlers are either code snippets with explanations or an probably ~2 paragraphs of text on average. I haven't experienced any galaxy brain type moments. The search is good enough, I can add and link to images, and it supports KaTeX for math. Those are probably the killer features for me.
If anything, I'd love to switch to something that let me work on iOS natively, but I've been happy enough to not look too hard for anything else.
The things I like about the Zettelkasten method is the concept of atomicity (notes are short and simple and are about just one thing) and then linking related notes together. Keeping notes plaintext also makes them easy to use with other tools (such as grep). I then just sync my notes in a Nextcloud instance across all of my different devices. Out of the many different note management methods I've tried this one is so far my favorite.
Implementing the Zettelkasten is an explicit use-case for Roam, as documented here: https://roamresearch.com/#/v8/help/page/VURQiVZQR
There are these two articles that can show new users what this app is about:
There is also https://www.remnote.io/ , but it's too complex and clunky right now, at least for me.
“ By connecting lose dots of information you create interconnected clusters of knowledge which emphasize the importance of an information based on the number of connections”
(Just for fun, here's one linear-algebra-free way to understand classic PageRank: imagine starting from a random page on the internet and then randomly clicking links. If you continue clicking for long enough, then the probability that you end up on any given page is, more or less, its PageRank. If your access patterns with Zettelkasten are random-ish and you keep track of how many times you look at each card, then these counts are a crude approximation of the PageRank of your cards.)
They've been submitted several times on HN, though usually to little discussion: https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que...
Among the more active mentions, a submission of mine a couple of months ago:
I'd also recommend "How to organize personal knowledge", an "Ask HN" with 220 replies: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17892731
There are also index cards generally: https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que...
And Pile of Index Cards (POIC): https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&qu...
And of course, the digital version, Hypercard: https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&qu...
I've recently discovered Paul Otlet's work -- among his creations was the notion of "documentation", a term he invented ~1925. He'd also compiled a collection of over 15 million index cards, the Mundaenium. Recent submission of mine: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22043441
I'd count bullet journals as closely related:
See: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11856987 and https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18769286 especially.
I've been wrestling with how to make use of a research journal of sorts, adopting some of the concepts from a bullet journal, but also the flexibility of index cards, while leveraging the benefits and capabilities of a bound paper codex. I'm calling this a BOTI Journal, for "best of the interval" (week, month, year...). It's something of a collection of paper-based round-robin databases (a ring or circular buffer), where I note the most significant elements enountered in a period of time, and periodically roll these up to a longer-term aggregate. This gives time-ordering but also an aggregation function.
Things tracked include various documents (expansively defined as per Otlet as articles, books, Web pages, audio and video recordings, images, etc.), authors, concepts, journals, etc.
After a year, or several years, I should have a well curated set of most-useful / most insightful references over the period, a notion I've been frustrated in my inability to track over the past few years.
More generally, the notion of a rotating database file seems hugely useful, see the 43 folders "tickler file" method from Getting Things Done: https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que...
(Searching "43 folders" itself tends to capture many distantly-related links to the website of the same name.)
I've newly embarked on this, and am interested to see how it goes.
There are also other pages interspersed, concepts, ideas, themes, outlines of cataloguing systems (Dewey, LoCCS, Otlet's Decimal Notation, etc.)
I'm discovering that my recent thought that a circular file format ought to exist and be used by ToDo / scheduling systems ... has been proposed by others:
I don't use Zettelkasten myself, but maybe I'll have the time to get around to it...
I found that the value of these systems for me is highly dependent on the amount of engagement I put into it in practice - if I engage eith the 'cards' often, updating them or reordering them, the content and the links of the card are much more present in my mind and generate new ideas. Compared to this factor, the system used for linked notes is of secondary importance.
The Zettelkasten.de software appears to be pushing concepts that would have been impossible in Luhmann's system.
Ultimately it seems that all these information systems are just different implementations of nodes, edges, and containers.
Node: Do you want it to support formatted text and/or media? Do you want to be able to visually explore this node's edge relationships to other nodes? (Software often chooses one or the other; both would be nice.)
Edge: Do you want directed edges? Do you want to support Graphs and not just Trees? Do you want your edges to have configurable meaning beyond "this relates to that"?
Containers: Do you want to be able to collect multiple nodes together? Do you want a node to optionally be a container, meaning do you want to allow an edge to link a node to a container? Do you want to support non-hierarchical (Venn) containers, aka tags?
Outliners, Todo list software are almost always directed trees instead of directed graphs. Even with mindmapping / bubble graph software - it's weird how many of them are just undirected trees instead of undirected graphs. Even orgmode is at best a directed tree with tags - it's not a DAG unless you use something like org-brain, which has its own limitations. Wikis usually don't have the visual exploration tools - imagine being able to zoom out of a wiki and just draw edges and containers to put the nodes (articles) in.
Zettelkasten supported (somewhat) formatted text. Not really able to visually explore edge relationships without taking stuff apart. Undirected graph, generic edge meaning. Links probably often one-way and not self-healing (removing a card wouldn't remove links of all linking cards). Supported heirarchical containers, and a card could conceptually link to a container by having "2" link to "2a" which might include 2a1, 2a2, 2a3, etc. Supported tags, sort of, although there wasn't a way to search for all cards that had a particular tag.
Ultimately you find that different thinking styles require different combinations of these concepts, so there isn't a one-size-fits-all, and there isn't "one system" that works like how the brain does, at least not until we have a system that allows us to easily mix these concepts together into a custom implementation.
Only, he realized that using letters for every other number makes the dot number dot sequence as a separating character redundant, thereby shortening the address length tremendously, and he didn't need versioning in the way the Xanadu devs thought it would need.
I was thinking a textual based system would be easier to version control and source, maybe something similar to mermaid .
In analogy to Zettelkasten I put my notes into different (nestable) boxes what they call hashes. The app eco system is quite hacker friendly as they publicly document the underlying SQLite database. I don't that possibility because their apps help me organizing my notes well enough til this point.
I unfortunately have nothing else to add to the topic of Zettelkasten, but if anyone is in Hamburg or near Lüneburg and wants a little tour through our lovely town, let me know!
Some time ago they finished digitalizing it, you can find that somewhere I'm my submissions.
I was rooting for Chandler, but so it goes.
The author of those slides is Daniel Lüdecke, who created Zkn3.