Zettelkasten Forum

"Commonplace Book" done in a pseudo-zettel style

Just came across this article on how the author keeps his Commonplace Book. Interestingly for us, his "book" is actually a file of a bunch of note cards. It's not a Zettelkasten because there's no notion of linking or unique identifiers, but I find it kind of funny that someone (and apparently several someones, given the popularity of this post) is coming so close to the spirit of Zettelkasten without mentioning it at all.


  • Yes, Ryan Holiday's post was actually what got me thinking on this concept, in which I researched further and then came across this blog and then...voila! I had found it!

    I too am astonished that he doesn't take it one step further...so close, Ryan...yet not quite there...

  • I didn't know the term until 2014, but when I found it, it didn't stay :)


    "Common place"
    places/headings would make sense to everyone
    Renaissance thinkers assumed the world was orderly and you had to discover its order

    Form Manfred Kuehn's description, a commonplace book used to be inflexible by design. That's how the world was perceived, after all. A Zettelkasten, on the other hand, is constructivist in nature, so to speak, and thus more modern.

    That stuff aside, I guess it never hurts to write Ryan the occasional letter ... :)

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

  • A number of authors and scholars seem to have reinvented ways to use collections of paper slips or index cards to organize their thinking, although I'm not aware of any others as elaborate as Luhmann's.

  • Subject: Zettelkasten + Commonplace Book Hybrid

    Trying to find the best knowledge management workflow for me as an IT consultant I think I've been able to combine both methods (critique is welcome). This is a manual system which is comprised of the following parts:

    1. A per topic / project master index (long description + "unique timestamp based ID per topic / project"). I'm using https://workflowy.com for this, for me this approach is better than trying to remember descriptive tags. This functions as the knowledge base's entry point similar to the alphabetical index with links in Niklas Luhmmann's.
    2. Use of the OS Filesystem with properly prefixed -{folders, filenames}. This allow me to use the right app (text file, mind map, diagram,etc) for the job within the system. This works in the cloud too (Google Drive, Gmail labels,Dropbox,etc).
    3. Analog notes (manila folders, manila envelopes, loose leaf sheets, clipboard, physical notecards, cardboxes with numerical timestamp dividers) for offline deep work. Normally analog notes are taken using the Cornell Notetaking (split page) method with each sheet (or notecard) sharing the same topic / project unique timestamp ID.

    I was inspired way back by the PoiC system (Pile of Index Cards) [1] but I found giving an unique timestamp to each single note or file cumbersome. Giving a hard look to the Luhmann inspired Zettelkasten method (thanks to insightful blog posts from takingnotenow.blogspot.com, zettelkasten.de) I realized that note and though linking may be critical for non-fiction academic writing but not in my line of work.

    Most of my digital writing is done on text files and on the few times where I actually need to link a section for future reference I insert a timestamp like [2018.] using my favorite text editor's macro function (jedit.org) upon adding it to my master index the given section could be easily found again using even grep.

    The system has the advantage that its topic/project master index may grow organically (just as Luhmann's), for instance I have assigned the ID 1602-091 to the Zettelkasten topic (timestamp: February 9 2016) any other related subtopic would get its own workflowy entry as (for example) 1602-091A, 1602-091B,etc.

    Other major advantage is that it's OS and application independent. The same system could be easily implemented with a wide range of diverse toolsets and environments.

    Zettelkasten.de has become my favorite personal knowledge management blog.

    Keep the good work!.


    [1] http://pileofindexcards.org/blog/cluster/

  • Copping with the makdown parser

    2) Use of the OS Filesystem with properly prefixed topic project unique timestamp ID dash folders or filenames example: 1602-091-implementations.txt for zettelkasten implementations. This allow me to use the right app (text file, mind map, diagram,etc) for the job within the system. This works in the cloud too (Google Drive, Gmail labels,Dropbox,etc)


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