Zettelkasten Forum


Connect literature notes?

Hey so I'm kinda new to the Zettelkasten method and I'm wondering if I should connect my literature notes. A concrete example: I've described a production method and added this to my literature notes, now I came across something that describes where this production method can be implemented in. If I want to add it too should I link these two notes like: Here you can see where this method works or something like that or should I just leave it alone?

Also, what do I do when I have two notes about the same topic but from different sources? How do you handle it? Do you make another note and link them? Do you add the new information to the already existing note? What about the referencing then?

I use Obsidian for my Zettelkasten, as I already said I'm kinda new to it and I hope you could help me not only with my questions but my general understanding about this specific method.

Thank you in advance.

Comments

  • If I want to add it too should I link these two notes like: Here you can see where this method works or something like that or should I just leave it alone?

    I would say you never want to leave anything alone. As @Will pointed out so well, every note is malleable: All notes are malleable: Strive for permanently useful notes, not permanently unchanging notes

    To me, the description of your thoughts about the whole process at the moment sounds like you could benefit from relaxing a bit about strict delineations of note types. Stuff you put in your ZK is supposed to be used, connected, re-written, re-organized, and played with. So if you are interested in possible applications of production method X, create a note that references the method description and tell your future self what it needs to know to remember what this was about, and why you think it's interesting.

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • I'm still a beginner in the subject, but maybe that's why my views are still very fresh.

    As I understand it, a literature note is a note about the source / reference (e.g. a book or article).

    First and foremost, you write down all the information about the source (author, year, etc.) that you need.

    Then you can also use the note as a collector of all ideas, quotes etc. that you have found in the source and that are important to you. These are then the raw material for your zettel/ permanent notes.

    Of course, you can also write down the individual ideas on separate pieces of paper and refer to them from the literature note (Similar to the "Notecard Systems" by Ryan Holiday).

    At the moment, these notes / ideas are still in context with the source.
    The aim is to "detach it from the source" in order to use the idea in a different context.

    I wouldn't equate the source with the topic either, as a source can address multiple topics:

    Take "How to take smart notes" for example. The main topic of the book is the note box, ok. But the book also has a section on the history of freight containers. Although the section is intended to clarify one principle, it is basically a different topic.

    A suggestion for your case (which you can adapt to your preferences):

    You have a source describing a production method.
    Then write a literature note on the source that contains the source's metadata:

    # Nobody2020productionmethodx
    
    - Author: Nobody
    - Year: 2020
    - ...
    - Notes
        - ...
        - ...
    
    
    

    I got the idea with the citekey as a title from the Obsidian forum.
    You can then link to it from a note (as a source).
    In Obsidian you can even assign aliases to e.g. to link to the full title. Here is a suitable post in the Obsidian Forum.

    If you only "copy" a quote from the internet, you do not need a literal note. You create a note and include the source directly in the note (e.g. link to a tweet).

    # Note about X
    
    > BlaBlaBla
    > -- Nobody [link](https://link.com)
    
    

    If your topic is more complex, you could start with a "parent" note and link from this to the individual sub-topics. You can also create them naturally if you notice that several notes fit on a topic (as in your case). It is a matter of taste whether you name this higher-level note as a structure note, MOC or something similar. At Zotero, the collections of sources are compared with playlists. That fits in with these high-level notes in my view.

    In your example, you could now create 3 notes (I will now do without the ID):
    1. Production method X
    2. Description of the production method X
    3. Areas of application of production method X

    From the first note you link to the other two. I will now take wiki links for clarification and again do without the ID, which I still think makes sense:

    # Production method X
    
    - [[Description of the production method X]]
    - [[Application areas of production method X]]
    
    
    

    Now for the second note:

    # Description of the production method X
    
    Nobody wrote BlaBlaBla [[Nobody2020productionmethodx]]
    
    Bla bla bla
    
    Somebody meant BlaBlabla [[Somebody2020productionmethods]]
    
    > BlaBlaBla
    > -- Nobody [link](https://link.com)
    
    ## References
    
    - [[Nobody2020productionmethodx]]: Nobody (2020): The production method X
    - [[Somebody2020productionmethods]]: Somebody (2020): Production methods
    - Nobody [link](https://link.com)
    
    

    Here I have used three sources that contribute something to the topic or the idea.
    The second source would now be another literature note.

    I hope this has given you a nudge.

    Sorry for my bad English.

  • @ctietze said:

    To me, the description of your thoughts about the whole process at the moment sounds like you could benefit from relaxing a bit about strict delineations of note types.

    That is very good advice. The note types in particular had confused me extremely at the beginning and, to be honest, also blocked me:
    Do I really have to go all the way (literature note -> permanent note) to extract an idea from a "three-line text"!? Especially since I don't have to / don't want to write a scientific paper!?
    No, a simple note with the source is sufficient.

    It is good to be clear about the intention behind the use of a zettelkasten and what information could be useful for the future self.

    It is best to start "simply" and then adapt. It gets complex and complicated by itself.

    And from my experience, you shouldn't do too much research on the note method at the beginning, because the many approaches to implement the method confuse too quickly. At least that's how I felt.

    Like driving a car: Pick a route and drive it. If you come across an obstacle, find an alternative route.

    In other words: Do not try to solve all problems in advance. Otherwise you never arrive.

  • @myn_user said:
    In your example, you could now create 3 notes (I will now do without the ID):
    1. Production method X
    2. Description of the production method X
    3. Areas of application of production method X

    From the first note you link to the other two. I will now take wiki links for clarification and again do without the ID, which I still think makes sense:

    # Production method X
    
    - [[Description of the production method X]]
    - [[Application areas of production method X]]
    
    
    

    Now for the second note:

    # Description of the production method X
    
    Nobody wrote BlaBlaBla [[Nobody2020productionmethodx]]
    
    Bla bla bla
    
    Somebody meant BlaBlabla [[Somebody2020productionmethods]]
    
    > BlaBlaBla
    > -- Nobody [link](https://link.com)
    
    ## References
    
    - [[Nobody2020productionmethodx]]: Nobody (2020): The production method X
    - [[Somebody2020productionmethods]]: Somebody (2020): Production methods
    - Nobody [link](https://link.com)
    
    

    Here I have used three sources that contribute something to the topic or the idea.
    The second source would now be another literature note.

    First of all thank you for your comment, it really helped me a lot as well as the comment from @ctietze.
    I have another question concerning the "parent" note. I am wondering if I should tag the "sub" notes of the "parent" note with, for example the tag "production" or should I just tag the parent note in that case?

    Thanks in advance, and thanks to you both for your valuable response. :smile:

  • edited December 2020

    To be honest, I've developed a love-hate relationship with tags. I used Evernote as a second brain up until two years ago, and I just loved tagging every note.
    The end result was that I "found" too many notes under one "tag". You can also search for the term right away.
    And tagging each note is a lot of work, with less and less benefit.

    Especially if you use topic tags, new problems and questions arise at some point:

    • Do I use the singular or the plural?
    • What about terms that describe the same thing? Which one do I take now?
    • What about child topics? Do I then tag the note with all the topics in the hierarchy? E.g. "Welding", "Production engineering" etc. Hierarchical tags are only used by a few programs.

    But I think if you ask 10 people about tags, you get 10 opinions.
    Some recommend action-based tags, others recommend status-based tags.
    There is an interesting article from Tiago Forte: A Complete Guide to Tagging for Personal Knowledge Management

    In general I would say:

    • Try to keep the number of your tags as low as possible.
    • Try to tag as few notes as possible (as far as I know, Luhmann (the godfather of the note box) only referred to individual notes in his key word index from a key word. I think this approach is not bad.). Therefore, the higher-level notes are ideal. Use your tags to get started with a topic and not to find an aspect of the topic.
  • @myn_user said:
    To be honest, I've developed a love-hate relationship with tags.

    In general I would say:

    • Try to keep the number of your tags as low as possible.
    • Try to tag as few notes as possible (as far as I know, Luhmann (the godfather of the note box) only referred to individual notes in his key word index from a key word. I think this approach is not bad.). Therefore, the higher-level notes are ideal. Use your tags to get started with a topic and not to find an aspect of the topic.

    I think your recommended approach reflects how you feel about tags (understandably, of course).

    On the other hand, I've grown quite fond of tags (starting from the position of not liking them at all and now, after exploring Zettelkasten and The Archive, quite liking them). My recommended approach is consequently quite different from what you stated:

    • I tag almost every note, targeting to have 3 to 5 tags per note. Some are less and some are more. The more specific the tag, the better, so I'm not into general tags.
    • I have a long list of tags - for me that is not a problem because I look at the list of tags; it becomes in a sense an index for my notes.
    • In regard to the tags, I try to keep the number of notes which reference them low. As mentioned above, the specificity of the tags is key and allows me to manage that in a way that works (for me).
  • @Sonny02 The best starting point to make you reflect on tags is probably @sfast's post here: https://zettelkasten.de/posts/object-tags-vs-topic-tags/

    Maybe we can also offer more constructive suggestions when you post your notes. The trick here is that your tags should reflect the content of the note, e.g. #production-method when you talk about a production method or assemble a list of such methods.

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

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