Zettelkasten Forum


Luhmann‘s use of unique IDs

I‘m new to this very interesting approach of Niklas Luhmann, using ‚Zettelkasten‘ to process knowledge. In my research on this method I’m reading and browsing the website managed by the university of Bielefeld as well as this site. I like how Sascha and Christian let us participate in their approach to the Zettelkasten method.

However, when comparing the explanations to Luhmann’s approach on the website of the university of Bielefeld with Sascha‘s and Christian‘s approach, I come across one big difference: The usage of unique IDs.

What does the university of Bielefeld say how Luhmann used IDs?

The explanation can be found here: https://niklas-luhmann-archiv.de/nachlass/zettelkasten

Please see chapter 3.4.

They have described the approach wonderfully, so please bear with me that I do not try to translate this into English. Maybe Google translate can be of help..?

However, in my current understanding Sascha and Christian do not make use of this kind of numbering. Instead, the focus lies solely on giving each note one unique ID. In their case they use the time stamp as their ID.

What is the reasoning behind this decision? What do you see as advantages of one method over the other?

In my current point of view I think Luhmann's approach to IDs is a central part of his whole "Zettelkasten" method. Only by using this kind of approach to IDs the benefits of the whole method can be gained.

Note: For a description of the benefits please see chapter 3.3: https://niklas-luhmann-archiv.de/nachlass/zettelkasten

I‘m looking forward to your feedback!

Comments

  • edited October 29

    I recently linked to a couple on central posts on this topic here:
    https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/comment/3530#Comment_3530

    Also see the discission "Thoughts on Folgezettel" for more.

    TL;DR: Luhmann's system is super useful to organize physical sequences of notes in a sensible way. With a digital system, you can create sequences on the fly through lists of links. The benefit of having one note directly next to the other ("juxtaposition" in my post) is outweighed by clickable links.

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

  • Thanks a lot for directing me in the right direction. I can certainly connect with your focus on principles instead of techniques. That perspective helps a lot.

  • @wlars said:
    In my current point of view I think Luhmann's approach to IDs is a central part of his whole "Zettelkasten" method. Only by using this kind of approach to IDs the benefits of the whole method can be gained.

    I think this is somewhat of a technical question. Luhmann was using an analog system, he was doing everything manually. He had to devise his system in such a way that it would help him to be as fast as possible. Otherwise, Zettelkasten would've never been so successful for him.

    But we're using digital systems. Computers do the work for us. And at such simple tasks computers are orders of magnitude faster than us.

    Even without special data structures and algorithms, modern computers will easily work with any Zettelkasten. Even 23,000 of Luhmann's notes are nothing compared to billions of records that Google handles every second. The only way for a normal person to grow their Zettelkasten to such a size that it'll cause problems is... to become immortal.

    Fun fact: Sascha and Christian use their Zettelkasten as a very simple relational database. The relational model is well established in Computer Science. So, if you ever have any issues, you can just start using any high-performance relational database. Or NoSQL, if it's your jam.

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