Folder vs Summary / Atomicity vs Complete Source of Truth
I have been experimenting with my Zettelkasten and two somewhat related questions surfaced. I would be curious to hear your thoughts.
Instead of creating summary notes why not put related notes in a folder? Doesn't a summary note essentially group notes together very much like a folder? In my opinion, a folder has some unique benefits worthy of consideration:
- A folder is much easier to drag files into / out from. It doesn't require creating a summary note and creating links to related notes manually;
- It groups all notes related to a particular subject in one specific location. I recall reading an article by Tiago Forte in which he argues that we humans have very good spatial memory, so it is easier for us to recall things by their location. A folder would provide such a location;
- If a mix of notes across different subjects is required, then of course a summary note can be created in the folder or any other suitable location;
- In a folder notes can still preserve their atomicity (see Question 2);
- Notes can still be linked to from anywhere in the Zettelkasten by using relative paths;
- A folder provides a nice central hub for a particular topic. If you want to visit your notes about UX, then you are very likely to get a good start into your archive by visiting the "User Experience Design" folder, instead of trying to remember the name of the summary note, for example.
This question is about note atomicity. Let's say that I am organizing knowledge about heuristic analysis in UX and I have determined that there are several parts to this topic:
- Definition of heuristics
- What is understood by heuristic analysis in UX
- Heuristic analysis vs user testing
- Heuristic analysis best practices
- How to perform heuristic analysis
- Links to resources about heuristic analysis
At this point I could (1) create a separate note for each bullet point, or (2) create one big note containing all bullet points. The Zettelkasten approach suggests that I do (1). Personally, however, I feel like doing (2) because then the note would organize all the key parts related to the subject in a sequence that makes sense (like a book), would be easier to maintain since I would not have to create links and summary notes, and I wouldn't have to wonder if some interesting thought is stranded somewhere in the Zettelkasten. Realistically, how likely am I to need to link to one specific bullet point? In this case, perhaps not very likely.
So do you think it is a matter of figuring out the balance between atomicity/note length/completeness of thought?
Sorry for this ridiculously long post and I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
There is no method to my madness. My madness is my method.
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