Zettelkasten Forum


Question around existing knowledge

I've been building out my Zettelkasten for the past 6 months now, and its coming along nicely. Not as fast as I'd like it to, as I'm not adding as many notes as I feel like I could do, but its doing ok.

The question I have is that, being a type 1 diabetic, I really have a "self taught" area of expertise that I understand enough of the science behind to be able to hold my own in a conversation with any endocrinologist (specifically to do with T1 diabetes).
Considering I already know a lot about this subject already memorised, is it worth putting this stuff down into my Zettelkasten? And if so, how do you go about making a start on a subject that:
a) you already know so much about
b) there's so much to write about

Would you just make an entry point, start writing down everything you know as and when the things pop into your mind, then break it out into separate Zettel's? Or aim to try and fill out separate zettel's as you go along? Or am I over thinking this? Would you just write the facts down as reference notes, and your own experience as archived notes?

I feel like getting it written down would help make connections I wouldn't necessarily have made previously, which is the whole point of the Zettelkasten, but I almost feel overwhelmed knowing where to start on a subject like this as I could likely fill a Luhmann sized zettelkasten on diabetes alone.

Interested to hear what other peoples thoughts are around tackling an area you already know inside out :smile:

Comments

  • I only discovered Zettelkasten this year, but I see it as a place to gather current thoughts and ideas. And if I uncover old stuff I've written before that I want to remember, I'll add it. There's lots of things I know and have memorized that I don't put into my Zettelkasten. That would feel like such a burden.

    I vote you make it helpful for you. If you're planning to create some content around diabetes, maybe it's useful. Otherwise, if you're just wanting to add it for the sake of adding it, I'm not sure how valuable that will be to your future self.

  • edited September 21

    I agree with @joegilder. Feed your zettelkasten fresh thinking and fresh ideas.

    @sepuku said:
    Would you just make an entry point, start writing down everything you know as and when the things pop into your mind, then break it out into separate Zettel's?

    Yes, I'd make an entry point. No, I would not write "down everything you know". Even if this was possible it would be so time-consuming as to be counterproductive. You are an expert on the topic already and the level of your zettelkasten should start where you are and advance from there. It has to in order to be useful to you.

    Or am I overthinking this?

    If you have to ask if you are overthinking this, then you most definitely are.

    Would you just write the facts down as reference notes, and your own experience as archived notes?

    Facts are a touchy subject. Many facts can be referenced from you zettelkasten and don't have to duplicate in notes. I'd be judicious in storing "just the facts". A zettelkasten is an idea machine, not a fact repository. I write about my personal experience in my journal and very occasionally reference my journaling in my zettelkasten. I keep these domains separate.

    I feel like getting it written down would help make connections I wouldn't necessarily have made previously, which is the whole point of the Zettelkasten, but I almost feel overwhelming knowing where to start on a subject like this as I could likely fill a Luhmann sized zettelkasten on diabetes alone.

    I'd for sure start a Diabetes structure note. I'd start with what I was reading currently. Maybe a research paper on the effects of cannabis use and Type 1 Diabetes. Then as I filled out the structure note it would become obvious what additional or background research was needed. But I'd only add what I felt needs adding when it came up in processing current work.

    This is hard to explain. I suggest keeping leaning forward, push to learn something new and fresh. Don't spend your time massaging your zettelkasten, spending hours, or more backfilling it with old stuff for the sake of some idea of completeness.

    Post edited by Will on

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

  • edited September 21

    This has helped a tonne.

    Yes, you are 100% right. It’s a thinking tool, and not somewhere to just store what I already know...
    Thanks for the reminder of that!

    I’ve been having some thoughts around some diabetes related things recently, that have been moments of realisation for me. I think this is where the diabetes “database” all started. I’ll just stick with writing my thoughts, and bolt on a reference card if it’s needed.

    Thanks!

  • @sepuku what is your goal with having notes on the subject matter?

    I would create notes for the aspect of the subject that is not very well understood or under active research. Then link all of these notes to a "T1 Diabetes" structure note. The point is for them to serve as a long term memory that you can add new information to overtime. Say there is an aspect of diabetes that is in early research, well you can add a note on a paper you read about it next year, then add a note on another paper on it in 5 years, then a note on a third paper in 10 years, etc. Or in 10 years there open up a new line of thought no one has considered. You then add a new note for that line of thought to the pre-existing notes.

    You are basically creating a purposeful space to track the occurrence of information over a long period of time and any new developments regarding it.

    The other type of information to include in the notes would be that which isn't important enough for you to memorize but is still important to have written down to reference at a later date.

  • I think @Nick asked the right question. It all depends on your goal.

    I am a Zettler

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