Zettelkasten Forum


Linking notes - new to established or established to new?

Or both?

I was integrating a note into my Zettelkasten this morning and my usual workflow is to highlight key terms or phrases and then I use a Keyboard Maestro macro that puts the highlighted text in the OmniBar and searches the entire Zettelkasten for matches. I then cruise the Note List looking for relevant notes to link to the note I'm working with.

I wonder if I should be putting the link of the original note on the note I discover during this search or if I should put the link for the note I discover that already exists in my Zettelkasten into the new, current note?

I know that the connection is easily discovered via the 'backlink' functionality of The Archive but I read somewhere that links from new notes are placed on existing notes.

Maybe this is mote, knit-picky, in the weeds. So far I've just been randomly mixing it up. Sometimes the link is put on the new note and sometimes on the established older note. Rarely both.

What do you do? Where do you add your links? Does this matter?

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

Comments

  • Or both?

    Yes. I do both. Having bi-directional links is great. I btw. believe more and more that (back)linking manually is generally better than letting a script or feature of your notes app do it - maybe not long term (I might miss a link here and there) - but in the moment: I am more engaged with my Zettel if I am the one who does the linking.

  • I second @matti. So much of my use is in building my knowledge base, as we've discussed. Manual links have improved my use of the ZK and also my memory of the information.

    Observations logged here: write.as/via-poetica

  • My linking is informed by the note's context, so when I write a note and it reminds me of another one, I just link to it right there. Then I may review the older note to see if its context would benefit from a backlink or not.

  • @Will said:
    Or both?

    I was integrating a note into my Zettelkasten this morning and my usual workflow is to highlight key terms or phrases and then I use a Keyboard Maestro macro that puts the highlighted text in the OmniBar and searches the entire Zettelkasten for matches. I then cruise the Note List looking for relevant notes to link to the note I'm working with.

    I was thinking about this the other day, in a different context. It occurred to me that I could be more efficient in finding links between notes if I just searched on various terms in the omnibar - similar to what you described above, but manually. But then I wondered "Why bother? If I can find those notes by searching, what additional value would my linking provide?". I hadn't fully answered those questions. But the concept of mind-mapping a set of notes (mentioned in a separate post) got me thinking that mind-mapping might be a better way to discover note connections than searching on terms.

    What do you do? Where do you add your links? Does this matter?

    @Will - you were the person who explained to me the value of self-referencing, and that by using that technique, back-links weren't strictly necessary. I found that idea freed me from the worry about back-linking everything. But I still do back-link some notes, if I feel strongly about the two-way connection. And I do that manually.

  • Let me try to clarify my thinking. [Hold your nose!]

    Do we give links different levels of attention and meaning when we place links here or there or place them inline or in a meta block? Do the links attract different levels of attention depending on where they are placed? If you study behaviouralism you might have an opinion here?

    I see some value in @matti's app independence, pure plain text ethos stance of links everywhere.

    Although, one could use Keyboard Maestro and the simple UNIX command to get all the 'backlinks" and paste them into the target note or create a hovering preview pane with target note displayed.

    find ./ -type f -exec grep -l "202003231432" {} \;
    or
    grep -rl ./ -e '202003231432'

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

  • I wouldn't distinguish between old and new notes. And I would not link Zettel but connect ideas.

    A link from one Zettel to another is not the goal it is the tool. It is the connection of ideas. If a connection is just a one way street it is just like that.

    I am a Zettler

  • Hello all. I find that it's best to have longer high-level 'index' notes consisting of structured topics, ie with main subjects, sub-subjects, etc. A note can appear in many indexes as it only makes one point, but I find this makes it very easy to organise and find associated notes. It's helped by giving notes descriptive / summary titles for the file names. Ie, it looks a bit like this:

    INTRODUCTION

    [[Smith- summary of topic]]
    [[Jones-summary of topic]]

    TOPIC ONE

    Subtopic

    [[Smith- subtopic one is rubbish]]
    [[Jones- subtopic one is amazing]]

  • edited July 31

    I search my existing notes for connections whenever I make a new note. When I go to create the connection, I make it bidirectional instead of unidirectional connection.

  • @Nick said:
    I search my existing notes for connections whenever I make a new note. When I go to create the connection, I make it bidirectional instead of unidirectional connection.

    Thank you for sharing your straight forward workflow when creating connections.
    I'm torn and trying to see the light around adding a second link. This seems like redundant clerical work as the Zettelkasting software shows backlinks already? In your view, what is gained by this explicit "backlinking"? I'll change my ways as soon as I see value in adding "backlinks". Tutor me.

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

  • @Will they would be good to use if you are either:

    1. Worried about a possible future note program not having backlinks panel functionality
    2. You aren't in the habit of checking the backlinks bar, so it is better to just embed them within

    Sounds like neither of those are much of an issue, so it sounds like there is no good reason to change.

  • Regarding back links in The Archive: are you referring to the fact that if I search for a note’s ID, the notes list also displays the notes that link to it? I’m not aware of any distinct back links feature.

  • @pat, yes, isn't this a cool feature?

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

  • @pat said:
    Regarding back links in The Archive: are you referring to the fact that if I search for a note’s ID, the notes list also displays the notes that link to it? I’m not aware of any distinct back links feature.

    Its is not a particular feature but the result of proper (of course I need to say that.. :D :D ) software design. It stems from the reliance on search for links and can be replicated by any software that can search multiple text files by both content and title.

    It is part of The Archive being designed with Software Agnostic Programming which is a term of programming ethics that Christian and I commited us to (a high extend. It is an unapproachable ideal).

    I am a Zettler

  • patpat
    edited August 6

    Okay. I ask because that behavior works great when navigating to a note via "link" (searching for UID). But if I enter the note via a keyword search, then finding the backlinks is a bit convoluted. Here's what I do:

    1. Search for "chicken" which matches note 123 poultry. The omnibar still shows "chicken"
    2. Copy link to note
    3. Paste copied link into omnibar: [[123 poultry]]
    4. Edit the omnibar search field to remove the brackets and poultry text, leaving only the UID

    I don't know of a way to simply copy the current note's UID, which I could then paste into the omnibar and show the backlinks. The two ways I can do it are copying the link and editing it to remove anything but the UID, or using cmd-r to go into the "rename file" where I can select the UID and copy it. Which is... okay, I just need to make sure to never accidentally change the name while trying to copy the UID.

    Is there a better way?

  • Yes, @pat there is an 'easier' way. This is how I do it and it surely could be improved. Others here on the forum who use The Archive may have different ways of accomplishing this.

    With automation tools

    Include a "self-referential" link in every note. The key to making this easy is to have some way to use a smart template that adds the [[UID]] to the template when creating a note.

    This could be done by hand but I use Keyboard Maestro. Below is what my basic temple looks like. Under the title is the link to this note which is 'self-referential'. Anytime it is clicked on all the 'backlinks' will appear in the note list. So far for my use cases, the format shown below works for all my notes. This template has evolved but has always contained a 'self-referential' link. I use the 'self-referential' link in other macros as well and it is so valuable.

    I'm sure this can be done with Alfred (check and ask over on the Alfred discussion).

    Without automation tools

    You inspired me to look at this from a perspective of no macro tool and no templates. One improvement I can see via your description is in step 2 if you use ⌘C and ⌘V you will copy the file name without the `[[]]. Another way to get the note name in the Omni Bar is to use the down arrow which put the note title in the Omni Bar. (Only seems to work if there are 2 or more notes in the note list.) If your links format is [[UID]] you'd still have to remove the 'Title'. This functionality could be automated with Keyboard Maestro or Alfred.

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

  • edited August 8

    @pat I am not sure what the problem really is. Is your problem that you don't want to mark, copy and paste what is in the content of the note (title and ID)?

    I am a Zettler

  • @sfast the problem I brought up is that when coming across a note via search, it doesn't show the back-links, because the ID is not in the omnibar. So you have to somehow get the ID, and it's long-winded.

    That would be made quite a bit simpler if there were a command to copy the current note's ID. I would also find that useful for other reasons (I copy the note ID to include in some other text file, folder name, or task manager).

Sign In or Register to comment.