Zettelkasten Forum


Simple summary of Zettelkasten?

I'm most of the way through the SmartNotes book. The concept makes a great deal of overall sense. It encapsulates some of what I've been trying to achieve with MindMapping tools for years. The problem the book obscures the mechanics and what matters. I appreciate the value of order notes were written in and also the value of link/backlinks. However, I can't tell for certain what else matters.

Is there a short(ish) summary in English? Bonus points if someone has a pointer to example/sample implementations. Like many other humans, I learn well from examples.

Thanks
Mark

Comments

  • I'd say, in a similar manner to GTD, the mechanics don't matter near as much as the method. Learning the concepts and ideas means any mechanics can be used ultimately.

    As far as a summary, I've been thinking about how I could explain this to my family during the holiday in the US. The closest I could come up with is this:

    Everyone takes notes. This system isn't really any different than that, except for the details. The notes you take, need to be in your own voice, as complete thoughts. Imagine writing them as tweets or short messages to a friend. Then, give each individual note a unique ID, that you then use to link all the different notes you have together. The real value comes in those connections. The "atomicity" (that complete thought in your own voice) of the notes means they can stand on their own when linked, so they make more sense overall.

    Much after that comes down to preference and features/limits of the system used to implement this. Paper leads to the Luhmann style IDs, digital seems better suited for Date/Time combos, with linking notes used to show a specific order of notes that the Luhmann style IDs had built in.

  • @mlevison

    What are the criteria of being simple?

  • @mlevison Re: Example implementation: Ages ago, I began to work on a project in the open with Evernote so everyone could see the progress. I since exported the notes to plain text and moved everything over to a public text file repository. Links are all here: https://zettelkasten.de/posts/evernote-project-progress-invitation/

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

  • @mlevison said:
    Is there a short(ish) summary in English? Bonus points if someone has a pointer to example/sample implementations. Like many other humans, I learn well from examples.

    I'm not at all certain if this is what you are asking, so forgive me if not, because if not this is likely to come off as snarky. But, I'm currently working on a ZK101 article, and here is what may be a relevant quote from it:

    The basic concepts of Zettelkasten are as follows:

    • You have a series of text files
    • each text file has an idea or ideas written in it
    • each text file has a unique identifier, kept in a way that is software-agnostic
    • you use these unique identifiers to create links between ideas that are connected

    That's it. That's the whole thing. Everything else is implementation.

  • @mediapathic I think that the software agnosticism is part of the implementation. :smile:

  • @all - you're kind to respond so quickly. My original request was from a tired brain and consequently poorly framed.

    After reading the book (SmartNotes) I can't tell what is in scope. I was looking for a list of mechanical what I would try to achieve.

    @mediapathic has made a start. (Thanks):

    • You have a series of text files
    • each text file has an idea or ideas written in it
    • each text file has a unique identifier, kept in a way that is software-agnostic
    • you use these unique identifiers to create links between ideas that are connected

    That's it. That's the whole thing. Everything else is implementation.

    In the book Sonke Arens makes comment that if your slipbox is just interlinked notes then its just a personal wiki without the benefit of crowdsourcing. That made think that other aspects had to matter.

    What else matters? The book seems to think that the order the notes were created in matters as a form of implied linkage. (Is that true in practice?) The book also frequently mentions each forward link, implying a link back from the recipient note. Is this important?

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