Zettelkasten Forum


Bottom up notes structure

I've just been browsing the Discord forum that @ctietze linked to and something clicked about the bottom up nature of zettelkasten.. I think this is why I cognitively struggle - I'm very naturally a 'top down' thinker - I work best starting from a simple but structured top level and working down.

I recognise the limitations in that though - I have to do a lot of reading to get the top level into my head before I can then build down from that, and that usually leads to reading with no tangible output and the need to start over once I'm in a position to start taking notes.

On the other hand, I find taking notes at the zettel level incredibly hard without the top level already in place. I find it hard to know whether something is relevant or not, and hard to know how much information to note down that will be sufficient and meaningful to my future self.

Have any of you found the same cognitive dissonance with this method, and how did you work through that? I read the book on smart notes and on paper it all makes sense, it just trips me up at the doing stage...

Comments

  • There is certainly a degree of experimentation that goes into it to figure out what works best for you. In my case, the tension went away once I acknowledged the experimental nature of note taking. Sometimes I use one technique, sometimes another and that's perfectly fine. The challenge lies not so much in taking notes but in getting to the point where you actually work with the notes taken. Only then will you realize what approach you find helpful and should use in which situation.

  • GBCGBC
    edited May 28

    @nistude said:. The challenge lies not so much in taking notes but in getting to the point where you actually work with the notes taken.

    Thank you. This has been a light bulb moment and is the crux of it, I think - and exactly what I’ve been overlooking. I find it cognitively very hard to work with an external system to expand my brain. A (any) system either has to do it all, or my brain does. At school (very long time ago), where topics were presented in bite sized, structured chunks, my brain could do it all - the key purpose of note taking / homework for me was to get it into my brain, and provide the triggers for me to access it from my brain.

    That’s not the case with what I’m studying now, yet I’m trying to hold onto that brain ‘control’. I’m not at all good at using the search function - not because I don’t have the ability to search but because mentally it’s something that doesn’t work for me. Once I lose (or if I start bottom up so don’t have) a mental schema, I feel overwhelmed and can’t work with my notes: I’m actually more likely to delete a whole set of notes and retake them than to search / trust what I already have.

    And that’s of course hugely limiting: a read dead end.

    So I need to focus on getting over my (subconscious) reluctance to search / trust what I find.

    This has been incredibly useful, thank you.

  • edited May 28

    I'm writing about this in my Zettelkasten.

    My current suspicion is that a lot of people when tackling a new subject matter are note heavy because everything feels important and they haven't built out a model. But once you've read a couple books on a subject, you start to see the underlying structure and how one book differs from the other. You also see what is redundant information, so you take less notes.

    What goes alongside this is that sometimes it becomes confusing when you already have a model pre built in your head, so when you go to take notes you already have a top down structure in mind. I'd just ignore your pre built structure and let it emerge naturally when you've taken enough notes to call for a structure.

  • @Nick said:
    . I'd just ignore your pre built structure and let it emerge naturally when you've taken enough notes to call for a structure.

    Thank you. This bit above, though, is what I currently feel unequipped, cognitively, to do. For me it isn’t a case of ‘just’ working in that new way, I need to work out how to be able to do that. I currently will never see a structure in notes I’ve taken because I don’t / can’t work with notes. It’s difficult to explain - but I’ve got something to work on now.

  • Nice! @nistude you have given some sweet advice - to consider zettelkasting as an experiment. Be like a mad scientist. In the experimental world, every failure or backtracking is celebrated as a step towards success rather than a hindrance. Try this then try that. This may work sometimes and that may work others, and sometimes neither will work. Oh well, we've learned. In a way the more failures and backsliding the better as they make way for progress. Only by doing and failing can I learn.

    I don't remember the context but "when you fall down, use the earth to get back up". I'm not even sure how this relates??

    @nistude said:
    There is certainly a degree of experimentation that goes into it to figure out what works best for you. In my case, the tension went away once I acknowledged the experimental nature of note taking. Sometimes I use one technique, sometimes another and that's perfectly fine. The challenge lies not so much in taking notes but in getting to the point where you actually work with the notes taken. Only then will you realize what approach you find helpful and should use in which situation.

    Will Simpson
    I'm a Zettelnant.
    Research: Rationalism, Zen, Non-fiction Creative Writing
    kestrelcreek.com

  • @JKF said:

    I currently will never see a structure in notes I’ve taken because I don’t / can’t work with notes. It’s difficult to explain - but I’ve got something to work on now.

    I recently started to learn about a new topic. It's amazing how, when you know very little about something, everything seems equally important and thus no structure seems obvious. Just keep reading and taking notes and as you go you will start to put things together in your mind and they will naturally seem to fall into structures and frameworks. Your links will cause you to revisit old notes and you will rewrite them in accordance with the structures you are developing. The structures you build Will be on top of the many, many schema you already have in your mind even if you don't realize it. When I say "red, blue, green, bellow" you see 3 colors and a typo, but a 1 year old doesn't. The same thing will happen at a more advanced level for whatever you're learning about now.

  • GBCGBC
    edited May 29

    @cobblepot said:
    Your links will cause you to revisit old notes and you will rewrite them in accordance with the structures you are developing. The structures you build...

    Thank you. I'm definitely not doing this bit - as I mentioned above, I haven't yet successfully used the tool to pull out structures, or even single notes, that I don't already have in my mind. If I don't already have a mental concept of a note, I can't seem to use the system to pull it out. I don't just mean that I don't know how to do this using the system, I mean also that I feel an intense reaction, one of overwhelm and resistance, and if I do find a note, unless it flashes up in my brain as something my brain already had a handle on, it just triggers something approaching panic.

    This has led to me just deleting everything and starting again (I've done so four times in the past twelve months) - which has the advantage that I finally get things in my head but obviously is totally undesirable and totally unsustainable. This is, I appreciate, an issue with my brain wiring that manifests itself in very many areas and one that isn't easily solved.

    I'm only reiterating that because what I find in life that what other people can say 'just keep doing' about is anything but a 'just' to me, which is hugely frustrating. But I tend to get there in the end, so... I need to work, then, on the linking, which I have tried to do but not sufficiently and on the retrieving of notes to see the patterns, which I've not done at all (and have deleted everything instead). If I can crack that, I'll be a lot further forward...

  • @cobblepot That's exactly the experience I like to call playful exploration; nothing is set in stone on the first try, and how could it, given how little one knows when taking the first steps. Just get it out of your system and into the text, then adapt, learn more, play around with everything, revise, and voilá: things look different than they used to. -- I believe this is the process students at Uni refer to when they notice having new insights while they write a paper, too, and end up revising a lot of the old, now sub-par manuscript.

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • @ctietze since you have a much better knowledge of the blog and forums to me, I wonder if you might be able to point me to the posts / threads that will help me address the above, please? If that's a hassle, then please tell me that and I'll have a search myself. The two things I've identified (as a start) of needing to address is a) putting in the links etc to allow me to see patterns (I know this is a much debated thing on here, so just somewhere to get started woukd be great) and b) doing the search / retrieving notes /seeing patterns.

  • @JKF Not sure what to recommend there!

    I recommend a site-search to look through both forums and blog at once, e.g:
    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site:zettelkasten.de+how+to&t=ffab&ia=web

    If you want to see how I start a note cluster from scratch based on a book, with cross-linking and all, see the "David Epstein" series:

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • Thanks @ctietze

    I've watched those videos a number of times and it hasn't clicked for me yet. But I feel I'm getting closer so I'll watch them again. If I'm running true to firm, once it's clicked I'll totally wonder what on earth the difficulty was 😂

  • For me, one of the biggest contributors to wrestle with this problem is the nature of my work. It follows the same cycle:

    1. New topic to learn and very little to know about this.
    2. Stumble from text to text, scribbling something I feel is nonsense.
    3. Have a moment of heureca.
    4. Learning accelerates.
    5. I feel like an idiot because I made many mistakes in step 1 and 2 that now, in hindsight (which is always 20/20), seem stupid.
    6. Reflect on the whole process and decide to be ok with step 1 and 2.

    Repeat the process. With each cycle, I become more tolerant of my feelings in step 1 and 2.

    Everytime, my Zettelkasten reflects this cycle. In the beginning, the new department looks like garbage. I create a couple of Structure Zettel and define a set of most relevant Zettel for the current project (in my case, it is mostly a book. Sometimes, it is a topic) and its a mess. But, surely, it could be any different. Imagine you want to build a hut. If you cut trees and stand in the middle of the woods with all the leaves and arms and twigs around you it just a mess. But some time goes by, and something like a hut emerges.

    My hypothesis is that the issue is not about the method itself. It is not how to set up Zettel and relate the to each other but on the deeper level. It feels strange if you need to really chew on something before you can make a bite.

    From what you describe, I go through the same feelings everytime I start something new. And I think that I well practiced in the Zettelkasten Method.

    I am a Zettler

  • @sfast This helps enormously. Thank you.

  • So, I've been digging around and I think my confusion / oversight is coming from a failure to properly implement structure notes. I think I felt that these were created retrospectively (and they probably sometimes are), but am I right in thinking some of you create them as you go?this is the bit I've been missing.

    I don't yet have a robust working practice. I've not really worked out how I'm going to use tags, I'm not creating structure notes as I go, and so I just end up with a load of snippet notes with no reliable way of finding them again - and that's mentally very off-putting.

    I've been using linked databases in notion which has moved me some way forward. I've created a table / database of the key topics that will be examined. I then create a linked table /database of exam questions and assign the relevant topic to each. I create another table for the reading list, again linked to the topic table. And a notes table, again linked to the topics table.

    In this way, all my notes, reading list and exam questions are linked via a central list of topics, and clicking on the topic gives me an overview of everything I've thought relevant.

    However whilst this is workable for my studying, it's probably less suitable for general reading (maybe? I've not really thought about this too much as yet) and Notion, at least on my laptop, is SLOW - assigning those links between (say) a note and the topic is off-puttingly laggy. Plus some of the ease of use of Notion that arises from pages and subpages (with keyboard shortcuts) doesn't seem to translate well to pages held in databases. But pages on their own don't have tags 😂😂

    Overall, I don't have a sense of being able to easily add a thought to Notion. It feels 'heavy' to open notion and jot down a thought, so I will be moving away from it.

    I have exams coming up very shortly so I need to park this train of thought and return to it when there's less of a danger that I'm using it as a distraction tactic, but I'll be reviewing the forums for structure notes and tagging. Any further tips / pointers would be incredibly useful.

  • I remember getting incredibly philosophical during exam time. My thoughts were deep and profound and far too important to spend time with mere studying. Well okay maybe they were not so deep and so profound and I just wanted to stop studying.

    One of the beauties of Zettelkasten(and similar systems) is finding emergent structure. You literally "Don't know what you don't know". Spending time classifying and defining hierarchy slows down note taking. You are too busy trying to decide "where" a thought fits rather than trying to catch a fleeting whisper of insight.

    Put your thoughts down. Connect it to something in your archive. Keep repeating this. Sometimes I will give a group of related themes a tag. Sometimes I will put links to a few related notes in a grouped order (structure notes). Trust that your links will lead back to your ideas ... eventually.Just play around with the process and trust it.

    But, what are the right tools ?

    I like using the Archive for my long term thoughts. I am not an academic, so I do not generate any papers from this. But, thoughts beget more thoughts and rereading often generates even more insights. I wonder if I am hampering the system by only putting curated items in, but that is another discussion.

    If I have a particular problem - I need to see things visually. If there are thoughts floating around in my head and I don't know quite where to put them I will used visual tools to determine my structure. I like using Tinderbox or Curio for this.

    Mind mapping tools are great if you have a structure or quasi structure in mind - not so great when you are floating in a sea of equally important thoughts.

    Ordering ideas can also be done in outline format - but I find this harder to work with. I like to use org mode and get the ideas down. I can then easily generate headings by adding more asterisks. I think org mode makes it easier because it all just text and I do not have the visual heaviness of a graphical outline.

    I wonder if the "heaviness" you feel with Notion is because it is harder to see the thoughts and manipulate connections. I have been playing with Notion recently and it looks very interesting - but it is heavy into structure.

    Not all tools will fit every problem, even if they just all involve words. I think finding the right tool(s) that works with your mind and your current problem(long term thinking, clarifying thoughts, composing papers, reading notes etc...) is a deeply personal choice. But, there is always the rabbit hole of trying to find "the perfect tool" and never getting anything done.

    Good luck with your exams.

  • thanks @NiranS

    The heaviness with Notion is not about the complexity of finding the notes, it's something about the speed / interface. I find the same with OneNote - there's something about it that feels like I'm dragging a large app along with me.

    As for the 'playing around with the process' and 'finding the structure' - that's exactly what I'm finding hard. I think I've just missed something in all the reading that I've done because I've created a lot of nice, short notes, but there's no 'playing' with them. I can barely find the things 😂 Hence why I went back and realised that I've missed out the structure note stage. I'm addressing that.

    I still don't get what anyone is doing to 'play' with the process or find patterns / structures, though, and I'm clearly missing something obvious because virtually every response to my posts include a 'just' statement in it, and my frustration is that this implies simplicity, ease, and a skillset / process that should be obvious and easily available to me. 😂😂

  • @JKF said:
    As for the 'playing around with the process' and 'finding the structure' - that's exactly what I'm finding hard.

    I find two areas where I'm "playing around with the process". Let me spell them out as clear as I can. First creating notes is fun and exploring and find unexpected connections when tagging and linking for me is fun and I'm always on the lookout for surprises. This is where the talk about link nodes and types is clarified. The second area where I have fun is in searching for answers to questions. I've had fun geeking-out tonight in drafting this post ("playing around with the process") coming up with a real example from my own Zettelkasten.

    The question I'll ask is 'How best to use my reading and writing time?" I have done this via a search of the key terms from the question.

    Below the note list is a wealth of information. The notes with a • between their UIDs and titles and structure or hub notes. Lots of relevant links to other notes in them. "Writing as Thinking" is a great paper that @ctietze turned me on to. Some of the notes I remember, the two notes, November 25, 27 are blog post drafts, There are a few notes referencing a course I took ENGL393 Intermediate Creative Non-fiction, CN Class Notes, Course Description. A note outlining the bibliography of a series of books about haiku. I can quickly eliminate these notes as probably being of low relevance (but who knows?).

    Below I am exploring a note that caught my eye "Thirty-three answers" and now remember reading Erling Kagge 33 essays on silence and I can apply this to my reading and writing. "Big accomplishments in small steps."

    When I click on the Silence Requires link, at the bottom of the note, thinking I'm going to more notes on Erling Kagge 33 essays but instead, I'm off reviewing/remembering/reminiscing about my notes made while studying John Gage's essays on silence. He was a controversial avant-garde composer, speaker, and writer.

    None of this might be your cup of tea, but this is a blow by blow of how I play, how I have fun, how I geek-out in my Zettekasten.

    I think I've just missed something in all the reading that I've done because I've created a lot of nice, short notes, but there's no 'playing' with them. I can barely find the things 😂 Hence why I went back and realised that I've missed out the structure note stage. I'm addressing that.

    Yes, structure notes can provide a wealth of answers to questions and they are where I try and always start a new note from.

    I still don't get what anyone is doing to 'play' with the process or find patterns / structures, though, and I'm clearly missing something obvious because virtually every response to my posts include a 'just' statement in it, and my frustration is that this implies simplicity, ease, and a skillset / process that should be obvious and easily available to me. 😂😂

    I hope I didn't use the word "just" to demonstrate my 'playing' in my archive. Patterns and structures usually have to be surfaced via questioning.

    @JKF tell me about what the scope of your notes is, what are they focused on? I asked 'How best to use my reading and writing time?" How about you ask my Zettelkasten a question and we'll see what it says?

    I hope this was helpful.
    My advice: JUST have fun. :)

    Will Simpson
    I'm a Zettelnant.
    Research: Rationalism, Zen, Non-fiction Creative Writing
    kestrelcreek.com

  • @Will This is utterly fantastic, thank you. I am beginning now to see how others use which is incredibly useful.

    tell me about what the scope of your notes is

    I'm taking notes in order to study a hard subject in which I have very little background. This is, I think, where the difficulties lie. Rather than reading about topics of which I have a good mental foundation and then just capturing new thoughts / ideas, I'm approaching brand new topics and making notes on everything I think I'll need to dredge up again for an essay, often without fully understanding what I'm taking notes on.

    That's not quite the same as jotting down interesting thoughts arising from reading topics on which you're already familiar, nor the same as using the system to make fun new connections. Whilst new connections may be fun, my driver is to find all the relevant notes I've taken to reproduce the content and structure that is expected by the examiners. Creativity is useful, but the essential part is meeting a pre existing expectation and standard.

    I'm not saying these two approaches are completely separate, but there is a difference, and that's what's been tripping me up when reading about what you guys are up to.

    So, given that I had overlooked the importance of structure notes (which are the obvious way to quell my fears about not being able to find my notes), am working in a subject that is daunting and unfamiliar, and that I have some reservations about the UI (discussed elsewhere), it was hard to see how to make this work. I now have a way forward, so thank you.

  • @GBC Is there any area that you consider yourself knowledgeable about? If so, reflecting on how you think about that area as compared to how someone completely new to the area might think about it might give you some insight as to your process of knowledge construction based on your own history. It doesn't have to be academic. Maybe there is a videogame that you mastered and you can think about how someone who has never played a videogame before might approach it. If you can actually find someone who has literally never played a game of that genre and try to teach them how to play it, I think you will find the exercise extremely illuminating.

  • GBCGBC
    edited June 5

    Thanks @cobblepot

    I think what we’re (or, at least, I am) circling into is that the practicality of atomic notes is very different when one has knowledge of a topic to when one is learning something very new for the first time. In fact I think the principle can be very helpful in both, but can very quickly lead to overwhelm if you’re jotting down single notes on everything new you come cross that you think might be relevant in the future. That’s certainly my experience, and behind my feeling of discomfort. I see two main options as a way forward: 1) take notes in a different format / method and use Zettels for those genuine flashes of thought that arise 2) use the same method but have a really robust way of structuring / finding notes to avoid the overwhelm.

    As I mentioned above, I think the structure of notes is distance between each use case. When noting down thoughts and flashes of inspiration on a topic with which I’m comfortable, the patterns and new connections are all important. It’s representing and expanding on my thinking. When I’m noting down things I think I need to know, say for an essay or assessment, before I demonstrate my own thinking I need to demonstrate a structured understanding of the examinable topics.

    Although not entirely distinct, there’s enough difference (to me) to warrant a slightly different approach. Or at least that’s my thinking at the moment.

    Does that make sense in the context of the advice you gave, or have I missed something?

  • Perhaps, a bit to offtopic:

    The example of @cobblepot led me to think of the teaching style itself. I personally am quite oddly socialized when it comes to learning:

    1. My father always forced me to figure things out. Since I learned calculus I never was allowed to use a calculator. When he needed to fix something he called me and asked me how I'd approach the problem with no initial instructions or explanations. It went on to be something like game of cat-and-mouse.
    2. In my martial arts career (just an amateur!), I was schooled in a very authoritative way. I was allowed to have an opinion only after a long time and only after I proved to be good.
    3. In many fields and skills, I teached myself and basically figured stuff out, often by pure trial and error.

    To me, it highlights the need to find a good balance between cognitive learning aproaches and practical ones. In meditation, it is very obvious. People get frustrated when they face distractions in their meditation practices. But this is one of the very reasons why you meditate. Distractions are not something that is wrong in your meditation session but a learning opportunity. I am wondering how to apply this to learning knowledge work (and, of course, the Zettelkasten Method to solve this problem).

    I am a Zettler

  • Perhaps, this continues to be a bit offtopic (maybe not):

    @sfast said:
    Perhaps, a bit to offtopic:

    To me, it highlights the need to find a good balance between cognitive learning approaches and practical ones. In meditation, it is very obvious. People get frustrated when they face distractions in their meditation practices. But this is one of the very reasons why you meditate. Distractions are not something that is wrong in your meditation session but a learning opportunity. I am wondering how to apply this to learning knowledge work (and, of course, the Zettelkasten Method to solve this problem).

    Thank you, Sascha, for the reminder that the distractions and irritations provide the learning opportunities and are the very reason to meditate. This is timely advice. Beautiful. Distractions and irritations don't go away. You get more comfortable in relation to them as you practice.

    I too wonder how this applies to my interactions with my Zettelkasten. Along with my meditation practice, zettelkasting is something I try to do each day. Sometimes it is just reading and maybe clarifying a random note. Some days I feel exhilarated and on fire and can produce, link, and integrate a ton of work into my zettelkasten. Other days I'm flat. Sometimes deep, sometimes superficial. Just like my meditation. Just keep at it. The doing of it is what matters, not the talk (especially my internal monkey mind), opinions (especially my own opinions), so-called rules, internet chatter, whether I feel like doing it or not, whether or not it is convenient. Zettelkasting is a skill/habit that is developed in the same ways martial arts, writing, fitness, mediation skills/habits are. Slowly, with dedicated practice, with both incremental and sudden realizations.

    Will Simpson
    I'm a Zettelnant.
    Research: Rationalism, Zen, Non-fiction Creative Writing
    kestrelcreek.com

  • @Will wrote:
    Zettelkasting is a skill/habit that is developed in the same ways martial arts, writing, fitness, mediation skills/habits are. Slowly, with dedicated practice, with both incremental and sudden realizations.

    I think this is one of the most important insights. I have the feeling that too many people spend too much time in trying to learn about the Zettelkasten Method without doing actual knowledge work. The skill part implies that you need to tag a lot of Zettel before you can make good tags. Habits need to be formed and cannot be learned. For academics, this is a classic childhood illnesses.

    I am a Zettler

  • @sfast said:

    I think this is one of the most important insights. I have the feeling that too many people spend too much time in trying to learn about the Zettelkasten Method without doing actual knowledge work.

    Ouch.

    Since you've posted this on this thread which was started by me, and also posted a similar view in direct response to me on the other thread when it wasn't even relevant to what I was saying, I'm going to assume you have me mind and so I can assure you this is not remotely the case with me. I've kept a ZK since last year and have been trying the 'actual work' on a regular basis since.

    It wasn't working for me - perhaps because if the way I was thinking about it but also because (I've discovered through this thread and the Discord chat) my use case perhaps wasn't the best fit. Some people here - and I thank them hugely - have been very generous with their time and help, and have really helped move my thinking on. Now the time I spend doing the actual work might be more fruitful. That's the way learning goes...

  • @GBC wrote:
    Since you've posted this on this thread which was started by me, and also posted a similar view in direct response to me on the other thread when it wasn't even relevant to what I was saying, I'm going to assume you have me mind and so I can assure you this is not remotely the case with me.

    Oh, no. :smile: I just reacted to Will. :smile:

    I am a Zettler

  • @GBC can you share a description of your journey in a new discussion? Sounds like a story of transition that might be instructive to others!

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • @ctietze said:
    @GBC can you share a description of your journey in a new discussion? Sounds like a story of transition that might be instructive to others!

    I'm still working my painful way through that journey, but I will definitely consider doing so once I feel I've got somewhere... :smiley:

  • @Will said:
    How about you ask my Zettelkasten a question and we'll see what it says?

    Hi Will, I realised I didn't come back to this. I'm really interested to see your ZK in 'action', as it were, but I can't think of a question to ask it without knowing what you've been thinking about in order to build it. I want to return to your post and really go through the process that you've set out, as I think I'm now starting to realise how I can best use my own.

    FWIW I've decided (for now, at least), that I have two distinct use cases for note taking. The second, which I'm only calling my second because I've literally only just started on it, is a ZK a little more like yours, with notes / thoughts arising from 'interesting' reading from a variety of unstructured sources, which I hope in time will give me connections and patterns in the way we've discussed on here.

    The first, which I've been trying to use (although I've deleted and restarted a number of times) is for study notes, and as I've said elsewhere on here, the objectives of reading and retrieval are different. There's an overlap, and if I continue to study the overlap will grow as I do more and more independent reading, but right now my focus is to understand and almost reconstruct the traditional undergraduate understanding as per the syllabus. This is where structure notes will be of huge help - the step i was missing before.

    Understandably, it's the independent / interesting reading that I'm excited about (although that's also because I have exams next week for the real study, so any distraction is a welcome one), and I'm keen to get ZK going properly for that, at least.

    Thanks again for your time and help with this - it is very much appreciated.

  • @cobblepot said:
    @GBC Is there any area that you consider yourself knowledgeable about? If so, reflecting on how you think about that area as compared to how someone completely new to the area might think about it might give you some insight as to your process of knowledge construction based on your own history. It doesn't have to be academic. Maybe there is a videogame that you mastered and you can think about how someone who has never played a videogame before might approach it. If you can actually find someone who has literally never played a game of that genre and try to teach them how to play it, I think you will find the exercise extremely illuminating.

    Just wanted to come back to say thank you to this advice. I've been playing around with thoughts and notes on personal interests (in Tiddlywiki, actually, just for a change) after browsing some digital gardens and the penny has dropped. So the concept is working, I now need to apply that to the learning process of going from something I know nothing about to atomic notes that are useful and not overwhelming. I've still got a way to go on that process.

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