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How do you refactor notes?

Greetings!

Over time, I tend to add more information and nuance to my notes. I'll read more on a topic, gather conflicting and supporting material, then augment my existing notes. I'm curious as to how often others refactor their notes, along with any tips or tricks they've learned along they way.

That may be a little abstract, so let me give you a concrete example. I currently have a note titled something like "Reasons why X is better than Y." I may start a note like this with information from one source. That source may have two reasons why X is better than Y, so I put that in my note. Then maybe a week later I find a second source that confirms the same two reasons why X is better than Y. At this point I will go back to my original note, add a new citation, provide a new quote or two, and rewrite the note a bit, maybe with some new information. Then a week later I find a third source and he mentions a third (new) reason why X is better than Y. I'll go back to my note again, add the new citation, and add some more information.

As I augment notes over time, I need to restructure them a bit to ensure they flow well. And often they get large enough to break into smaller notes. I'm interested in hearing the experiences of others on this topic.

Comments

  • Since I don't have a concrete "how much" number, I guess the best reply is: yes :) I do the same, adding info whenever possible, and performing refactorings like (to keep up with the refactoring practice of fancy names of programming) Extract Zettel or Introduce Structure Note all the time. Much less often do I need to Merge Zettel, but occasionally I find that an old note is superseded by a newer one, so I apply Reroute Links and point all links for the old one to the new, and then remove the detached old note. Very, very seldom do I do this, but it happened in recent memory.

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

  • @ctietze said:
    Since I don't have a concrete "how much" number, I guess the best reply is: yes :) I do the same, adding info whenever possible, and performing refactorings like (to keep up with the refactoring practice of fancy names of programming) Extract Zettel or Introduce Structure Note all the time. Much less often do I need to Merge Zettel, but occasionally I find that an old note is superseded by a newer one, so I apply Reroute Links and point all links for the old one to the new, and then remove the detached old note. Very, very seldom do I do this, but it happened in recent memory.

    Interesting, I hadn't thought to extend the refactoring analogy further to include actions like 'extract zettel'. Do you envision any features like that to be a part of version 2 of The Archive?

  • @ctietze defines "Refactoring" as:
    adding info
    Extract Zettel
    Introduce Structure Note
    Merge Zettel
    Reroute Links

    I think this covers the broad outcomes of refactoring, but the nuts and bolts of the processes are more detailed.

    In the search for lucky connections to prior notes, I've noticed, and likely you have too, that when finding candidates for linking, they are often not up to your current high standards, having been created by your prior self that was by comparison frankly sloppy. :smiley: I find I'm returning old notes to my inbox and treating them like the adolescent notes they are. This puts them in a place where I can "re" them.

    1. Reword parts of the note.
    2. Reformat the note to meet current quoting and header standards.
    3. Reapply emphasis to the key meme of the note.
    4. Reintegrate and search for deeper, broader connections into my note archive.

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

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