Zettelkasten Forum

Questions about the Zettelkasten Method Flow Diagram


This flow diagram was introduced in Field Report #5: How I Prepare Reading and Processing Effective Notetaking by Fiona McPherson:

I was hoping to discuss/ask some questions regarding it as I was recently processing it.

I'm guessing @Sascha will have to speak to this the most. But I am happy to have any others engage or share their thoughts.

Human Group

I was trying to understand the "Human" grouping and its sub-entities. What is it supposed to mean exactly? Is it what is happening within a human? Is there a semantic difference between the shapes under "human" and "zettelkasten?"

Is the entity under "human" an emergent outcome of the process it is connected to? For example, "overview of literature" is emerges in human understanding (ideally) when "researching" the "Sources of the world" and finding "Promising sources"?

Zettelkasten Group

What is the difference between the general group Zettelkasten (as opposed to Human) and the container "Zettelkasten" that has the two entities and one process "Atomic thoughts and connections," "Structuring & Integrating," and "Overview, Tools, Complex Insights"? Is the general group the Zettelkasten Method and the container the actual archive?

And, if the general group "Zettelkasten" is the Zettelkasten Method, what should the whole be called since the Zettelkasten method is a part of the whole?


Is this a part of the barbell method (the first pass) or not?


  • It's an odd dichotomy for sure, but I think it is a shorthand way of saying user cognitive processes on the left and Zettelkasten tangible workflow on the right.

    I view the Human column as cognitive processes the user is doing/experiencing along the way. I view the Zettelkasten Large as generally physical/tangible artifacts created/encountered through the whole process including sources that get processed before they end up as tangible notes in the slip box (Zettelkasten small) then on to tangible output or visible changes in behavior.

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