Zettelkasten Forum


what can we expect to get out from a Zettelkasten?

dear forum members,

I have only recently heard about ZK method and am still familiarizing myself on the subject. I would like to know more about how to create output products from a ZK.

Here in the forum some have already mentioned they've written blog posts, articles or books. I would like to know more about the workflow behind this task.

  1. which formats are best suited for ZK? For example, I could imagine a ZK could be translated entirely quite well into a wiki due to its similar representation of content and structure
  2. which intermediate products can be created from a ZK for other formats? For example, for a blog or a book what can I expect to be working with, say the raw data for a draft based on a subset of zettel.

my first Zettel uid: 202008120915

Comments

  • edited August 11

    @zk_1000 zettelkasten is just the information loosely organized in a networked fashion. All the other formats are just different ways of communicating information, so I'm not sure that one is better suited than another. Just preferential. I'm currently experimenting with having a front end wiki supported by a backend zettelkasten.

    The different formats are better suited for different types of information sharing, so it really should be what is your information sharing goal. For example, wikis are suited for serving as a complex reference tool. Books are linear and therefore best suited for long linear explanations. Blog posts are just shorter books, still want a linear explanation, but instead want to communicate a shorter/smaller concept. If you are a teacher, then creating blog posts or books are the better idea. If you are a hedge fund manager who wants to track concepts for future problems, then a referential system, such as a wiki would be a better idea. If you are a sociologist who wants to track the manifestations of tons of abstracted concepts in society and how they interrelate, then a zettelkasten would be a good idea.

    Because its all the same, organized information, you can create any intermediate format with a zettelkasten. Your post is a bit vague to me, so sorry if my answers feel a bit vague also.

  • @Nick said:
    I'm currently experimenting with having a front end wiki supported by a backend zettelkasten.

    hello Nick, thank you for your reply. I had the same idea in mind but need to learn the basics first. My initial thought was since a wiki is organized in a networked fashion with many hyperlinks, it should be possible to automate the most part. After looking at some wikis I quickly realized that it is a much greater challenge to export the information from a zettelkasten. From my initial thought I would end up with a very low quality result with lots of stubs (article too short for encyclopedic coverage).

    I didn't have any preference in mind. The goal would be to find the easiest example for a first experiment. I am trying to imagine how much effort one must invest to do something with it with qualitative result, or how sketchy a draft from it would look like.

    Meanwhile I found a book whose author used his zettelkasten as reference and the book received pretty bad reviews. It was described as low quality, repetitive, not enough effort put into the linear explanation.

    I don't know if it is recommended to use a zettelkasten as workbase, or to use it for reference and inspiration only and start from scratch with your goal, side-by-side.

    One can probably achieve much higher quality documents starting from scratch, but then how do you update a finished book? When feeding your zettelkasten for version two, how do you track what has changed or added since version one?

    There are many books about zk method. Is this topic addressed as well?

    my first Zettel uid: 202008120915

  • edited August 12

    @zk_1000 think of your zettelkasten as a giant box of legos, with each individual lego being a piece of information (concept, commentary, reference, etc) in the form of a note. As you collect more and more legos you organize them (zettelkasten workflow) in such a way that when you want to go build something you are able to get all the pieces you need.

    You can then take these legos (information building blocks) and organize them into different structures to create a bunch of different things. What you end up making are made up of all the same thing (information) but are different depending on how you structure them. These different structures are blog posts, books, presentations, and wikis.

    You collect and organize the legos until you have enough to build a structure. In the same way you collect and organize information in the zettelkasten until you have enough notes to use for a wiki entry, blog post, or book. In this situation, the difference between a wiki and zettelkasten is that you might not use all the information on a topic for the wiki entry that you have in your zettelkasten. Zettelkasten is your loose collection of information, sometimes it includes incorrect information that you later correct in your research process.

    I don't know if it is recommended to use a zettelkasten as workbase, or to use it for reference and inspiration only and start from scratch with your goal, side-by-side.

    I think it depends on the person and how they communicate with their zettelkasten. Don't forget that Luhmann published prolifically with his zettelkasten. That was a byproduct of the interaction between what he put in his zettelkasten, his default brain, and how the two communicated.

    Just because you create a zettelkasten, doesn't mean you'll somehow create great work. It is just a tool. Some people suck at using tools and others create amazing masterpieces with them.

    This topic is addressed in past posts by forum user @sfast, use the forum search to look for his posts on the multiple version zettelkasten book he wrote.

  • @zk_1000 said:

    @Nick said:
    I'm currently experimenting with having a front end wiki supported by a backend zettelkasten.

    hello Nick, thank you for your reply. I had the same idea in mind but need to learn the basics first. My initial thought was since a wiki is organized in a networked fashion with many hyperlinks, it should be possible to automate the most part. After looking at some wikis I quickly realized that it is a much greater challenge to export the information from a zettelkasten. From my initial thought I would end up with a very low quality result with lots of stubs (article too short for encyclopedic coverage).

    @zk_1000 In deciding how you want to proceed, keep in mind that a wiki is not a network of notes, but rather uses a hierarchal system. I suggest spending some time creating a modest size ZK, so that you understand how it works. And particularly pay attention to how connections between notes and how structure notes work. You will find they allow you to produce a truly networked system, whereas a wiki does not. The following article discusses this quite well (towards the end of the article):

    https://leananki.com/zettelkasten-method-smart-notes/#comment-198

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