Zettelkasten Forum


Hello all - new forumite from Birmingham, UK

So here I am, 6 days after picking up a copy of Sönke Ahren’s book!

Before I got here, I decided to update my home hardware and plumped for the iOS system with a new 12.9” iPad + magic keyboard, so my Zettelkasten journey will be based in this ‘ecosystem’, and maybe a mac desktop too when I splash some more cash. I can use a windows 7 PC at work and a windows 7 work laptop from home.

I was a devoted user of the Palm system in the early 2000s. Sadly, all my notes, which seemed easy to store, given that the pocket device had a stylus-handwriting recognition system making the entries easy to make, are all lost. :(

It matters now to me to have a note-taking system that is:

  • transferable (who knows what system will be popular in the future)
  • regularly updated and reviewed - this will be down to my habit

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1. Software on iOS. I tried Notion, and it just doesn’t work. I’ve just downloaded Bear, so now I need to work out a way of creating a template for my Zetteln. I didn’t like Notability. I’m not keen on Evernote - I need to think strategically about note-taking. As Ahren’s says: differentiate between fleeting notes, permanent notes, and project notes. I think Evernote seems to function as a datadump. The inspiration to use Bear comes from MentalPivot’s webpage here
2. For the latter, I will use Scrivener for iOS, and Googles Paperpile app integrates well with this on iOS
3. For better essay writing, some inspiration here from criticalthinkeracademy.com webpage
4. Mind-mapping software to help me learn new concepts

I’ll be scouring the forum here for tips on Bear use, Zettel templates and I guess I shouldn’t be too precious about making errors, and u-turns as I go. I think I can stay within iOS ecosystem, but perhaps some of you will look at the above, and say: just use your PC. Any advice gratefully taken on-board. I’ll still be using paper for those fleeting notes when I’m at work during the daytime!! For example, I’d never heard of markdown till I came here and I think I’ve tried some above with the italic typeface

And my topic areas:
1. Work-related

  • Medicine - palliative medicine is my area
  • Human factors - enrolled on a MSc programme (University of Derby Online Learning) and my note-taking has to get better if I’m to raise my coursework grades!!
  • Regularly teaching other colleagues on the above two areas (and after covid - all powerpoints are going online...!)
  1. Other academic interests
  • Sociology, social sciences methods
  • Ethics in relation to virtue, leadership skills, and teaching
  1. Flute-related literature
  • Proud owner of a large library of flute-music. The catalogue is done, but I could learn and take a lot of notes about all the composers!

Best wishes,
Milind

Comments

  • Welcome to the forums Milind. Hope you can wrestle something useful here.

    @Mpapers said:
    I was a devoted user of the Palm system in the early 2000s. Sadly, all my notes, which seemed easy to store, given that the pocket device had a stylus-handwriting recognition system making the entries easy to make, are all lost. :(

    This is a vote for plain text and portability as a key factor in a zettelkasten. May of us have made this mistake in the past. Some of us don't recognize that we continue to make this mistake with out software choices.

    @Mpapers said:
    ... Evernote seems to function as a datadump.

    Yes, Evernote is a dump but a pretty one. I use it for some things: warrenties, user manuals, personal daily journaling, as a read-it-later web clipping service, backpacking trip reports and stuff that I think doesn't fit in my zettelkasten.

    @Mpapers said:
    I’ll be scouring the forum here for tips on Bear use, Zettel templates and I guess I shouldn’t be too precious about making errors, and u-turns as I go.

    This is a great attitude, not "too precious about making errors, and u-turns as I go."

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

  • edited September 5

    @Mpapers said:
    So here I am, 6 days after picking up a copy of Sönke Ahren’s book!

    Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
    1. Software on iOS. I tried Notion, and it just doesn’t work. I’ve just downloaded Bear, so now I need to work out a way of creating a template for my Zetteln. I didn’t like Notability. I’m not keen on Evernote - I need to think strategically about note-taking. As Ahren’s says: differentiate between fleeting notes, permanent notes, and project notes. I think Evernote seems to function as a datadump. The inspiration to use Bear comes from MentalPivot’s webpage here
    2. For the latter, I will use Scrivener for iOS, and Googles Paperpile app integrates well with this on iOS

    First - welcome to the forum and to the world of Zettelkasten users! A few thoughts from a relative newby that hopefully will be useful to you.

    I've been a Bear user for several years and put a lot of notes into it, until I ran into the idea of a Zettelkasten. I still use Bear a bit, but most of my work has shifted to The Archive.

    • You organize things in Bear by using "nested" tags - basically, a categorization system with the equivalent of folders, sub-folders, etc.
    • Works well until you get too many notes and can't remember in what folder you put things. This is a common problem with systems that rely on this type of categorization scheme and one of the reasons I decided to switch to a Zettelkasten.
    • I've gone through all my Bear notes and moved some of them over to The Archive (the ones I wanted to keep in my Zettelkasten). As you gain experience with a Zettelkasten and how it is organized, you will see that Bear is pretty limited in terms of accessing old notes.

    I also use Scrivener - a lot. Mostly for taking voluminous notes during various engineering review meetings and storing within a project not just the notes but also related PDFs, spreadsheets, Word files, etc. Then later I have to write a report giving my opinion on various aspects of the engineering work. Scrivener is perfect for this - it is dream software for a writer. However, it is not great software to create a Zettelkasten; The Archive works much better for that.

    The other day, I wrote an article on Friendships for my children and grandchildren. It's something about which I've been thinking for months, with about 10 Zettels on various aspects of it. So - The Archive was used to bring different thoughts and ideas on this topic into my Zettelkasten. When I did decide to write the article, I pulled all the relevant notes from The Archive into Scrivener (drag and drop the text files from my Zettelkasten folder into a Scrivener project) and then proceeded to write the article. It was a simple and effective process.

    I could have planned to do something like that from the start, i.e., picked a general topic and then wrote various Zettels as I thought about and/or researched different aspects of it, but in this case I just wrote the Zettels because they appealed to me as something useful to put into the Zettelkasten, and then later I realized I had a larger "story" to tell my kids. In that sense, my Zettelkasten allowed me to discover the larger story from the smaller insights.

  • edited September 5

    Regarding the different types of notes: It think those concepts are misleading because they imply that they are all truly different entities and seem to shift the focus to the superficial layer of "note" and away from the actual thing we want to do (creating/connecting knowledge).

    There is only one distinction necessary to make the process of the Zettelkasten Method flow: Notes that a part of the Zettelkasten (via ID and established connection) and notes outside of the Zettelkasten.

    See my pile of paper:

    Those are not different notes (literature, fleeting, project, whatever). It is just part of my inbox which needs to be processed. From the perspective of the process they are all the same because they invoke the same behavior: I sit at my desk and file them away (in my GTD, my research.org, Zettelkasten etc).

    I talked with Christian about this phenomenon. The more you are able to think in processes the more you can take action. The more you think in things the less you can take action and will therefore just think more because your brain works as if you still need more thinking (resulting in a feeling of being stuck)1.


    1. Which is quite a good term for the problem because your thinking starts in the right hemisphere of the brain, then goes to the left and needs to return to the right. Thinking in things could be framed of the left hemisphere holding on to thoughts that should be given to the right hemisphere. (Iain McGilchrist - The Master and his Emissary) ↩︎

    I am a Zettler

  • @Mpapers I just remembered there was some discussion on tagging in Bear in an earlier post; if interested, you could check it out:

    https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/1184/interesting-tagging-idea-from-bear#latest

  • I’ve also used Bear a fair bit for this sort of thing, and given you still have notes there @GeoEng51 it may be useful to point out that Bear does have an implementation of wiki-style linking. Details here. To my mind at least, this deals with the problems you noted in your first post about rigid structure and lost notes.

  • Hello! I am located an hour down the M5 from you. Welcome to the forum.

  • @mjknght said:
    I’ve also used Bear a fair bit for this sort of thing, and given you still have notes there @GeoEng51 it may be useful to point out that Bear does have an implementation of wiki-style linking. Details here. To my mind at least, this deals with the problems you noted in your first post about rigid structure and lost notes.

    Thank you for that link and suggestion! I wasn't aware of that feature and it is certainly useful.

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