Zettelkasten Forum


When is the right time to turn a list note into a structure note?

Hi. I hope your day is going well!

I think that thoughts about this may differ, but when it comes to the ideas that each ZK note should contain one idea and be understandable on its own, I wondered how that applied to list notes. For instance, taking a top 10 of whatever topic, that can be a note in itself, but I get that it can also be transformed into a structure note where each point can be refactored into a new note. My issue with that is I feel like it can violate the idea of making one note understandable on its own. It can be broadly understandable, but sometimes we're not looking for broad understanding in these notes, and perhaps we wouldn't want to go through a prolonged chain of links just to get to the answer you're looking for.

I suppose my question is more about the boundaries between certain kinds of notes, and how you know if you're transitioning from one kind of note to another. I also understand a note can for differing types at the same time.

Comments

  • @jellis said:
    When is the right time to turn a list note into a structure note?
    ... My issue with that is I feel like it can violate the idea of making one note understandable on its own. It can be broadly understandable, but sometimes we're not looking for broad understanding in these notes, and perhaps we wouldn't want to go through a prolonged chain of links just to get to the answer you're looking for.

    Perhaps this isn't the answer you are looking for. I started off much like you and had a lot of notes attempting to keep them "understandable on their own". I'm still a work in progress. I stumbled around trying to decide when to, how-to, and if I should create Structure Notes (annotated table of contents). Then I watched @ctietze work with David Epstein's book “Range” and use Structure Notes as a guide and format. I got the religion! I see I was thinking about this backward. I needed to start from a Structure Note.

    Now, 95% of my notes start from one of my Structure Notes or I create a new Structure Note for the note to land on. This does a couple of things. It creates an initial link. I have a saved search for all my Hub Structure Notes, I have 16 currently. They correspond to areas of interest or work or research. If a note won't fit on any of these, then it is a note on a new interest. Likely other notes will follow with this new interest. Who knows, maybe this is a note branching off of an existing Structure Note and then I'll create an H2 Structure Note and link to it from the appropriate H1 Structure Note.

    Another advantage of starting from a Structure Note is that notes can be grouped in logical patterns giving them more context on a Structure Note. Adding a note to a Structure Note initially also lets you add a wee bit of context in the Structure Note to help with

    we wouldn't want to go through a prolonged chain of links just to get to the answer you're looking for

    Here is a sample of a Hub Structure Note. It provides some context and structure to the notes and has another Hub Related to it.

    Here is a different Hub Structure Note (Reading Skills) with more annotation and not any logical grouping.

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

  • Thank you so much, Will!

    I took the time to consider where my struggles in running a zettelkasten lie, but your examples have been very useful in helping me see the appeal and simplicity of operating mine with structure notes.

    Your response also helped me sort through other ZK struggles I've been having. I was curious about the lines between list notes and structure notes, because I was concerned about the note being too long, hence considering the structure note route.

    When I wrote this question, my concerns about ZK were clustered into one perceived problem; now I think I can point them out more clearly, although I think it may be best to start new topics on those issues.

    Thanks again!

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