Zettelkasten Forum


The contents in a Zettelkasten

I am stuck on whether different subject of notes should be in Zettelkasten:
_ I'm wondering whether I should have 2 Zettelkastens for notes of "unrelated" topics._ - I've read somewhere it should depend on the length of usage, but what if I plan on using both for a life time? I'd like to have the contents of ZK1 about sociology, philosophies, etc and ZK2 for health and science-related and other interests that don't exactly fit in ZK1 (eg: skincare, working out, tips for shorthand, molecular structures of skincare ingredients, tips for playing the guitar, piano; any useful tips for my interests/hobbies for future reference). Do notes have to be of similar fields? the ID system Niklas Luhmann is too rigid imo for notes unrelated? The method Luhmann uses gives a sense that the notes in the particular ZK must should be similar.

How do you go about using two ZKs or more and connecting them when needed? - There will be some occasions it would be useful to link the contents of ZK2 with ZK1: producing papers for assignments like looking into the ethicalness of mica. Would it then, be more effective having one Zettelkasten? I understand the linking but sometimes I just don't have an interest in linking the content of ZK2 to ZK1 so having 2 Zettelkastens is better suited. Or am I missing the beauty of the connecting notes that are unrelated at first glance? Suppose I had no idea how they'd relate because I've never read about it and don't intend to read on it?

Comments

  • @zetzazu said:
    ... am I missing the beauty of the connecting notes that are unrelated at first glance?

    I have one zettelkasten. I recommend blending philosophy with health and any future interests. You mentioned a lifetime zettelkasten. Things will change and grow if you're lucky.

    In your zettelkasten should go everything. Connecting ideas to form new insights across seeming unrelated domains is where the magic happens. Outlining the relationships between notes is an important part of thinking through them. Otherwise, it just reproduces the world outside.

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

  • The Zettelkasten Method allows you to have all in one Zettelkasten. I have my dog training diary, analytic philosophy, self development, nutrition, training, workout plans for my clients, psychology, fragments of fiction writing and many more different topics and type of texts (prose, non-fiction, aphoristic things, tables) in my Zettelkasten. It works like charm and each area enriches each other.

    I am a Zettler

  • edited November 1

    @zetzazu By creating different zettelkastens for different topics you would loose one of the main benefits of the zettelkasten system, which is exactly not having to sort content into different categories. I've worked with folders representing different categories for more than a decade before I discovered the zettelkasten system. It created a lot of frustration because there will always be content that fits into several categories or no category at all. And then what do you do? You could use tags in the zettelkasten instead (zettels can have multiple tags), but very broad tags like "sociology" would not be very useful – see e.g. https://zettelkasten.de/posts/object-tags-vs-topic-tags/

  • @Vinho said:
    @zetzazu By creating different zettelkastens for different topics you would loose one of the main benefits of the zettelkasten system, which is exactly not having to sort content into different categories. I've worked with folders representing different categories for more than a decade before I discovered the zettelkasten system. It created a lot of frustration because there will always be content that fits into several categories or no category at all. And then what do you do? You could use tags in the zettelkasten instead (zettels can have multiple tags), but very broad tags like "sociology" would not be very useful – see e.g. https://zettelkasten.de/posts/object-tags-vs-topic-tags/

    Thank you! I recall reading somewhere on using tags but abandoned it because it was too much to handle. The problem with specific tags is I end up with too many tags and sometimes forget about them.

  • @Will said:

    @zetzazu said:
    ... am I missing the beauty of the connecting notes that are unrelated at first glance?

    I have one zettelkasten. I recommend blending philosophy with health and any future interests. You mentioned a lifetime zettelkasten. Things will change and grow if you're lucky.

    In your zettelkasten should go everything. Connecting ideas to form new insights across seeming unrelated domains is where the magic happens. Outlining the relationships between notes is an important part of thinking through them. Otherwise, it just reproduces the world outside.

    Thank you! I was wondering though, is it required to connect two notes in a Zettelkasten even though they're of different concepts? Maybe a misconception on my end. I just think if it's unrelated and through speculation and some digging and I cannot see a connection, it shouldn't be in my Zettelkasten.

  • @sfast said:
    The Zettelkasten Method allows you to have all in one Zettelkasten. I have my dog training diary, analytic philosophy, self development, nutrition, training, workout plans for my clients, psychology, fragments of fiction writing and many more different topics and type of texts (prose, non-fiction, aphoristic things, tables) in my Zettelkasten. It works like charm and each area enriches each other.

    Thank you! Similar question posted earlier, is it required to connect two notes in a Zettelkasten even though they're of different concepts if I have no clue how they connect? Because if I don't see a connection, I'm afraid I'll lose the notes as my Zettelkasten grows so I shouldn't be putting it in my Zettelkasten.

  • @zetzazu said:
    ... is it required to connect two notes in a Zettelkasten even though they're of different concepts? Maybe a misconception on my end. I just think if it's unrelated and through speculation and some digging and I cannot see a connection, it shouldn't be in my Zettelkasten.

    NO! There is no requirements. If you have an idea, put it in your zettelkasten, period. Full stop.
    If your idea is "through speculation" just add that in the note and congratulations, you've created a research point which might develop into a new insight.

    I have developed a rule for myself that when I create a zettel I always start from a connection. Make a connection before I start with the zettel. Each new zettel in attached to another note. It is hard at first but quickly grows easier and easier. Usually I add a link to a structure note but not always. In most cases a new zettel is the product of reading and it would go on the structure note of the reading as the first connection. If that is all the connection you can create at the moment, great. Late other connections may appear. For example I've connected many current zettel with many zettel from 201901 and 201903. Must have been productive times for me. Of course I couldn't see a connection back in 201901 to what I fed my zettelkasten yesterday and would be poorer had I not created the old zettel because I couldn't see any connections.

    If I don't have a structure note that is a candidate for starting connection, then I make one as this zettel must be the start of a new thread in my zettelkasten. Sometimes these structure notes develop and grow, sometimes not. The new passion for knitting may not last.

    The exception to my self-imposed rule is Structure Notes themselves. These are started first then connections are added. These Structure Notes are the 'categories' or 'hubs' or 'entry points' 'focus energies' of my zettelkasten. May of my structure notes run 700-1200 words with up to near 40 links. It is very variable.

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

  • @Will said:
    I have developed a rule for myself that when I create a zettel I always start from a connection. Make a connection before I start with the zettel. Each new zettel in attached to another note. It is hard at first but quickly grows easier and easier....

    That's interesting, @Will. I always do it the other way around - write the zettel first and then create the connections (although I must admit that as soon as I start writing the zettel, I'm already also thinking about the connections).

  • @Will said:
    I have developed a rule for myself that when I create a zettel I always start from a connection. Make a connection before I start with the zettel. Each new zettel in attached to another note. It is hard at first but quickly grows easier and easier....

    @zetzazu I recommend to just follow this rule.

    I am a Zettler

  • @zetzazu I'd just use some high level categories in the same way Luhmann did. See my post on that here https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/comment/8623/#Comment_8623

  • Thanks for the clarifications. :)

  • I have one ZK, if I had something to hide I'll have two I guess

  • @Splattack said:
    I have one ZK, if I had something to hide I'll have two I guess

    Haha! Good one.

  • @Will said:....I have developed a rule for myself that when I create a zettel I always start from a connection. Make a connection before I start with the zettel. Each new zettel in attached to another note. It is hard at first but quickly grows easier and easier.

    Well ya got me with that rule. I must be misunderstanding something. How do you have an ‘original’ thought? No snark intended, just curious. Bang! Some thing ‘hits’ you. You enter it in your Notebook. Later you put it in your Zettelkasten. Do you search for something, anything, to anchor it to?

  • I hooe this helps.

    @Daveb08 said:
    Well ya got me with that rule. I must be misunderstanding something. How do you have an 'original' thought? No snark intended, just curious.

    Confusion reigns around the destructive meme of "original idea". This idea of an idea having to be unique in the whole universe and all of history to have any value is bullshit. It is the ego's trump card to cause hesitation and procrastination. I love @thomasteepe's pointing out Steve Fry's quote, "An original idea. That can't be too hard. The library must be full of them." Just go and grab them. They are free for the taking.

    Instead, the question of rather an idea is original or not is the wrong question. The question should be, is an idea interesting, helpful, sparks a dance, worth thinking about (now or in the future)?

    My Zettelkasten is home to ideas original to me. Emphasis on 'me'. I'm the one who is using this Zettelkasten to grow and learn. Not anyone else. My superpower is not caring what others think, only caring in the honesty and compassion of what I think.

    Bang! Something 'hits' you. You enter it in your Notebook. Later you put it in your Zettelkasten. Do you search for something, anything, to anchor it to?

    The short answer is Yes! Here is a narrative of a recent example.

    I'm driving the truck to town for a meeting, and I'm right on schedule. A few miles from the house, I'm listening to Sting's song Inside [[202010310559]] and his use of Anaphora [[201904141619]] which is a form of rhetoric where a phrase is repeated for poetic effect. This hit me like a ton of bricks, a sample I could really relate to—a visceral example of a method of persuasion. My mind quickly danced to using something similar to these rifting lines in ENGL 316 Environmental Writing.

    I pulled over and jotted a very brief note. I was now a bit late for my meeting. But so worth it. Once home, I found the lyrics and made a note, and clearly marked the quote. I added the ideas that I had that caused this dance. Because I seem to be inspired by an • Abundance of Songwriters [[202006100932]] regularly while listening to music, I have created this hub note to have a place my archive to start and the note's connection. I want to stress that this only a start. In the screenshots below are the notes and my pocket journal. I hope you can see how I developed this idea.

    Who cares if any of this is original? I only care because it moves me to swing. Even again, while I write this post to you, I'm dancing inside to Sting's Inside. This is all connectioned and available for idea creation in the future.

    Pocket Journal

    • Abundance of Songwriters [[202006100932]]

    Anaphora [[201904141619]]

    Inside [[202010310559]]

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

  • @Will said:

    If I don't have a structure note that is a candidate for starting connection, then I make one as this zettel must be the start of a new thread in my zettelkasten. Sometimes these structure notes develop and grow, sometimes not.

    The exception to my self-imposed rule is Structure Notes themselves. These are started first then connections are added. These Structure Notes are the 'categories' or 'hubs' or 'entry points' 'focus energies' of my zettelkasten.

    Re-reading you previous response, I think I may have missed the context of these words. If so, then what you were saying is that in order to create a Zettel, YOU require that it be started as a link in an already created Structure Note.....otherwise.....you create a NEW structure Note. Have I got it right now?

  • @Will said:
    I hope this helps.

    @Daveb08 said:
    Well ya got me with that rule. I must be misunderstanding something. How do you have an 'original' thought? No snark intended, just curious.

    Confusion reigns around the destructive meme of "original idea". This idea of an idea having to be unique in the whole universe and all of history to have any value is bullshit. It is the ego's trump card to cause hesitation and procrastination. I love @thomasteepe's pointing out Steve Fry's quote, "An original idea. That can't be too hard. The library must be full of them." Just go and grab them. They are free for the taking.

    @Will - that post shows a mastery of the thought process and of expressing an idea in words. Thanks!!

  • @Daveb08 said:
    Re-reading you previous response, I think I may have missed the context of these words. If so, then what you were saying is that in order to create a Zettel, YOU require that it be started as a link in an already created Structure Note.....otherwise.....you create a NEW structure Note. Have I got it right now?

    The "YOU require" sediment is way too harsh. This 'rule' is more of a slogan, a way of coaching myself to be .1% better than yesterday. It is meant to be positive encouragement. This is more of a queue to remind me to follow through to help establish a keystone habit. I've been rewarded following this advice to myself many times, and sometimes I need to be reminded.

    Otherwise, I think you get the jest of the idea. Usually, a note starts with a link on a structure note, but sometimes a link might be created directly on a deeper resonant note if one comes to mind quickly. It can take some time to deeply link a note, but initially, it is connected.

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

  • @Will said: ....Otherwise, I think you get the [jest] of the idea. Usually, a note starts with a link on a structure note.......

    Yup....that’s the [jest] 😉 I was getting at.....

  • @Will

    Jest / gist -- tomehto / tomahto :wink: Only a Canuk knows for sure.

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