Zettelkasten Forum


What do you want in an introduction

I buckled: I will write an introduction to Zettelkasten.

I am happy for any suggestions and wishes what you want to be covered.

Outline (inserted: 2020-05-06-11:46)

  • Introduction

    • Luhmann’s as an enigma
    • Fluff about Luhmann
    • The problem of “normal” note taking
      • Gets messy and bloated over time
      • Does not scale with the project
  • Why a Zettelkasten?

    • To solve the problem of knowledge work

      • Thinking, Retrieval, Structuring -- etc. Making notes and using them productively
    • Solves problems or improves on not explicit problems

      • Lateral, interconnected thinking and writing (make new stuff)
      • Scaling with the same methods
      • Improves depth of processing (optional)
      • Improves focus by providing you with a clear mission (Lesen auf Verzettelungsfähigkeit)
      • Nothing is truly wasted
      • More productive
  • What is a Zettelkasten?

    • What did Luhmann different?

      • No categories
      • Hypertext
    • A Zettelkasten - my definition

      • Language: The Late Wittgenstein

        • A Zettelkasten is not something that is defined strictly but with familiarity. See: Philosophical Investigations §67
      • Big traits:

        • Hypertext
        • Atomicity

          • Difference to a Wiki
        • Hierarchy

          • Some order
        • Both hierarchy and hypertext

        • One Zettelkasten per person -> A familiar to you personally
    • Summary: “If I had to explain it to someone unfamiliar with the concept, how would you explain it to them?” So, what is a Zettelkasten? ...

  • How

    • A Zettel

      • Unique Identifier

        • Luhmann ID
        • Time Stamp
        • Arbitrary
        • Title only
      • The content

        • Self-contained
        • One thought

          • Levels of thought explained
        • Your own words

          • Depth of processing, improved thinking
        • How selective you are and what is the nature of the information you put in it vs. do not? Factual Knowledge? Conceptual Knowledge? Procedural?

        • “I sometime struggle to determine whether it is worth writing a detailed Zettel about what makes the website worthwhile to write a Zettel about, but I don't want to write for the sake of writing and most of the time I am not sure if it is just transient stuff or whether it really is useful to keep around long term and not just for processing of a particular thought/query I had. I don't want to turn my Zettelkasten into busy work, i.e. a kind of procrastination.”
      • Reference

        • Either other Zettel
        • or: Outside sources
      • Insert: Original and translated samples

    • Links to other Zettel

      • Connectivity
      • Make links explicit (compare: non-semantic links) When you revisit your Zettels, you may have no idea why you connected them.

        • Most explicit: A Zettel about the connection of other Zettel (compare to Structure Zettel)
        • Creating Link Context
      • Insert: Original and translated samples

    • Some sort of order/structure

      • Structure Zettel

        • Insert: Original and translated samples
      • Folgezettel

      • Example: Wikipedia does that too
  • How II

    • Using the Archive
    • Using paper

      • Story: My Zettelkasten started like that
    • Using a Wiki (DokuWiki)

      • ZimWiki was one of my favourites
  • The Zettelkasten at work

    • This is my Zettelkasten. So everything is in The Archive because it is the best. “Me: Zettelkasten, you are incredible!” “Zettelkasten: No, I am better!”
    • Real life demonstrations

    • A demonstration of using the ZK (retrieving, connecting) rather than just note-creation (where we tend to put a lot of emphasis)

    • Some actual case studies of how a ZK helped you produce some output

I am a Zettler

Post edited by sfast on

Comments

  • Over on the Zettelkasten subreddit, I’ve heard from several people that they missed a concrete and straight-forward example of what a few notes and a few connections looks like.

  • How selective you are and what is the nature of the information you put in it vs. do not? Factual Knowledge? Conceptual Knowledge? Procedural?

    1. Step by Step implementation with a real resource (not a toy one made for demonstration) and real tool (The Archive makes sense)
    2. A demonstration of using the ZK (retrieving, connecting) rather than just note-creation (where we tend to put a lot of emphasis)
    3. Some actual case studies of how a ZK helped you produce some output
    • A clear explanation of what Zettelkasten entails. If I had to explain it to someone unfamiliar with the concept, how would you explain it to them? I had some people ask me this, and I noticed I was not really consistent with my answer.
    • How to approach linking. I just started out Zettelkasten and notice this is one of my struggle points. For example I have had multiple times where I wanted to relate 2 or more things in a sentence without having a Zettel about the relation, do you the simply put the ID behind the terms you want to relate? When I tried doing that, I found myself preferring title-based wiki links.
    • I love to see some examples of how you would write Zettels based on information you read on a website. This is likely my main trigger to create Zettels and as such my main source, but being new to Zettelkasten I still struggle a bit on how to best put what I gathered from a website in the form of a Zettel.
    • How to determine the right balance when writing Zettels. Back to the website as an example, I sometime struggle to determine whether it is worth writing a detailed Zettel about what makes the website worthwhile to write a Zettel about, but I don't want to write for the sake of writing and most of the time I am not sure if it is just transient stuff or whether it really is useful to keep around long term and not just for processing of a particular thought/query I had. I don't want to turn my Zettelkasten into busy work, i.e. a kind of procrastination.
  • @sfast , I have a concrete suggestion for you (and anyone else who wants to teach others how to implement a "fuzzy" process like ZK-ing). Read Grad School Essentials. Now, before you get all huffy and insulted, the point is NOT that you need grad school skills (which you already have, obviously). Rather, this book (e.g. chapter 2 on 'Critiquing a Text') is a great example of how to show someone how to do something that is very context-sensitive: critiquing the argument of an academic text. The author gives principles for critiquing a text, and then actually walks the reader through sections of the text, how he thought about them, how he summarized them, etc.

    It's not unlike @ctietze 's video series on 'Range', but it's at a much finer level re: content, and I think a useful intro to ZKing will need to be so also.

    I don't know how or whether this can be implemented in your book, but it could serve as a model. I hope I'm not overstepping here, but...You have many, many admirable thinking and writing skills, but I think this book could help you with the one area where (IMHO) you do not 100% excel: adopting the intellectual viewpoint of others who think differently than you in a way that allows you to "meet them where they already are" and effectively convey your ideas to people who don't already share your intuitions. It's so interesting to me that many people here have said how they love your clear writing, and I have also been complimented on the clarity of my writing (thanks, Mrs. Cobblepot!) but we obviously miss each others' meaning often. (BTW, I know I have many areas to improve about myself, please post suggestions here or contact me at dontmakemecryIhavefeelingstoo@gmail.com)

    Shore, Zachary. Grad School Essentials: A Crash Course in Scholarly Skills. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2016.

  • Thanks already for all the suggestions. Keep them coming. I need to let my ideas simmer and any new ingredient is welcomed.

    @cobblepot Thanks for the book suggestion.

    I think big chunks of our misunderstanding comes from my limited English skills. Many time when I re-read something I wrote I see quite a lot of mistakes in framing. In German, it is no problem for me to do the simultaneous translation from the ivory tower language (not meant as an insult but rather as a characterisation) and explaining myself. But in English.. I stumble arround like a drunken yak (see Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins). My blog posts are heavily edited by me and Christian.. :wink:

    Additionally, I know the load of some phrases you use which is not available to those who did not study philosophy. Intuition is a good example. I analysed the problem as any philosopher to the death. (It is one of the main problems of philosophical craftsmanship) And when I read how you use the concept I want screech that the problem of infinite regress is a theoretical fake problem, something about the late Wittgenstein and many things more. (I will reply to the old posts about Gettier soon..)

    But this will not go away because my English will be wack for a long time and my distaste for the ivory tower is with to option for redemption. :smiley:

    I am a Zettler

  • @achamess said:
    1. Step by Step implementation with a real resource (not a toy one made for demonstration) and real tool (The Archive makes sense)

    What do you mean with real ressource? Would be using my own Zettelkasten an example? Or do you mean applying the method to a real source rather than fake content (foo, bananabread etc.)?

    I am a Zettler

  • I added a first draft of the outline to the first post.

    I am a Zettler

  • @sfast said:

    @achamess said:
    1. Step by Step implementation with a real resource (not a toy one made for demonstration) and real tool (The Archive makes sense)

    What do you mean with real ressource? Would be using my own Zettelkasten an example? Or do you mean applying the method to a real source rather than fake content (foo, bananabread etc.)?

    @sfast I mean rather than fake content (bananbread, yes). So using an actual book or other resource you're interested in.

  • @achamess said:
    @sfast I mean rather than fake content (bananbread, yes). So using an actual book or other resource you're interested in.

    Good. Then everything is included so far. I will not read the suggestion of @cobblepot but I have a comment: "TODO No, higher concepts because cobblepot will bust your balls with intuitions"

    I think that will suffice.

    I am a Zettler

  • edited May 6

    @sfast said:
    a real source rather than fake content (foo, bananabread etc.)?

    Please, no more banana bread. Love the stuff, but it's the most over-used example in explanations of the ZK method.

    Started ZK 4.2018. "The path is at your feet, see? Now carry on."

  • @Phil said:

    @sfast said:
    a real source rather than fake content (foo, bananabread etc.)?

    Please, no more banana bread. Love the stuff, but it's the most over-used example in explanations of the ZK method.

    I talked with Christian banana bread will be an easter egg from now on. A dog whistle for Zettlers.

    I am a Zettler

  • edited May 6

    @sfast I'd maybe include something about trying to get beyond just collecting and instead developing ideas and arguments. And how does one get into that mindset? Or how does one use a Zettelkasten to nudge their thinking in that direction?

    While reformulating ideas for your own understanding is necessary, at the end of the day you don't just want a wiki because we already have wikipedia. What you are trying to do is to use the Zettelkasten to push your own thinking beyond what has already been written, into the realm of new ideas. And I think this is a hard mindset to get into for beginners because recreating what is already out there is much easier and a base level of learning is still necessary.

  • @Nick Mh. I need to think about that. I have the intuition that this would leave the scope of an introduction.

    I am a Zettler

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