Zettelkasten Forum

What to do with multiple topics?

Hi, everyone! I'm so glad to have discovered this forum.

A question has been nagging me ever since I started my ZK journey, and that is: what do I do if I'm into multiple topics?

My interests are all over the place: I'm into photography, sociology, history, theology, philosophy, linguistics, and education.

I am not sure whether I should have one giant slip box for everything or multiple ones for topics that have stuff in common. But that would also raise a conundrum. I'm into photography, and I'm into art history, so those two topics could be in one slip box. But then I'm also into history in general, so should art history be a part of the box with history or photography? Again, this is just an example, not an actual dilemma.

I'm going through Ahrens' book but I don't know if it will touch on this particular topic. He does mention that Luhmann wrote on all sorts of subjects, which seems to indiciate he had a single slip box system for everything.

Has anyone here dealt with this?


  • @smorgasbored said:
    Has anyone here dealt with this?

    Everyone deals with this in the beginning.

    Relax is my suggestion, and at least start making a ZK in a single folder. Some of this depends on the software, plugins, and level of self-coding tolerance you have.

    You will want to link all areas of your knowledge base together. Consider the possibilities of linking a photographic idea with philosophy and education. In separate zettelkastens, this is cumbersome but not impossible. You want a setup with the least friction possible.

    Here is a sample of what I think. I linked a photography idea to Ivan Illich, a Catholic philosopher and writing note. This is from a note titled.

    • Does photography buffer experience? [[202306180535]]
      • The act of taking a picture and the visual experience are separate things, and each has a different impact on our moment-to-moment experience of the flow of our lives.
    5. Digital means that quantity is not the problem it was in Barry Lopez's time. In fact, cameras were bulk things that required specialized knowledge.
    - Ivan Illich's critique of modernity  [[202307100535]]
         * Efficiency and productivity in education and healthcare systems limit personal fulfillment and creativity, hindering a satisfying life.
    - I write to discover what I think [[201905151120]]
         * I write to think about things I haven't thought about yet.

    Will Simpson
    My zettelkasten is for my ideas, not the ideas of others. I will try to remember this. I must keep doing my best even though I'm a failure. My peak cognition is behind me. One day soon, I will read my last book, write my last note, eat my last meal, and kiss my sweetie for the last time.

  • This is actually what the Zettelkasten is build for: Scal for theoretically infinite amounts of notes with correspondingly infinite topics.

    I am a Zettler

  • edited December 2023

    I think is easier manage a single space rather making a separate space for every topic.

    Another benefit of the single space, If you write about photography and then about art, surely in the future you will have chances to write and thinking about photography in art

    In my experience Zettelkasten scales very well when the system grows, so is not a real issue having an enourmos number of notes into. Dedicating a bit of time linking notes is the trick.

  • I have a mix of personal topics (covering a wide range) and work topics, all in one Zettelkasten - it poses no problems and can be synergistic.

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