Zettelkasten Forum


When do you start linking your notes within the Zettelkasten?

edited January 12 in Knowledge Processing

I finished a book that I am about to go back through and process. The notes from this book will start my Zettelkasten. I am starting an Analog Zettelkasten and may somehow convert or mirror it in a digital format as I go. I want to move a bit away from the digital world. I feel like there is a better brain connection and flow for me while writing. So my question is when do you start to link notes? Do you wait for a certain number? Do you wait until a few books are read? I have asked this other question before though it keeps popping up in my mind, do you write the original quote that sparked the thought in your mind on the index card or just your thought with the bibliographic information. Last question. When linking a note do you back link it as well. For instance lets say I find a connection with note number 1 and note number 20. On note 1 should their be a link to 20 and on note 20 a link to note 1? As always thanks for the input!!!

Post edited by VDL1516 on

Comments

  • @VDL1516 said:
    I finished a book that I am about to go back through and process.

    Congratulations. What book did you read?

    As you proceed you may find a mixed approach helpful sometimes. The time between reading and processing into zettelkasten is variable. Sometimes the reading and zettelkasten are worked simultaneously, sometimes processing occurs chapter by chapter, sometimes after reading - one day to one month. Sometimes after a rest, processing into zettelkasten seems not as worthwhile as when you started reading. Varies on mood and density of the material and most importantly my level of procrastination.

    So my question is when do you start to link notes? Do you wait for a certain number? Do you wait until a few books are read?

    Start as soon as you are moved to link notes together because of their relevance. Why wait? Links are added as time goes on. This is what I take it to mean by building knowledge, linking between atomized bits of knowledge and building a zettelkasten. In my "processing" I not only create new notes, I actively look for other notes to link to. This is the advantage a digital archive has, instantaneous full-text search.

    I have asked this other question before though it keeps popping up in my mind, do you write the original quote that sparked the thought in your mind on the index card or just your thought with the bibliographic information.

    Yes and no. Sometimes one and sometimes the other. It depends on my mood and context. One of my use cases for a zettelkasten study and development of my poetic life through study of Japanese haiku. I have a few notes that follow the following format. With other material, I'll spend time considering if I can reframe/paraphrase the quote and if I can I might not even include it but will include the reference (cite key) if I feel I can't really improve on the quote I use blockquotes to house the quote and try to follow this with personal commentary, questions, connections to other notes, anything that builds context. In other words, add value to every note given available time, energy, relevance, and mood.


    When linking a note do you back link it as well. For instance lets say I find a connection with note number 1 and note number 20. On note 1 should their be a link to 20 and on note 20 a link to note 1?

    Again yes and no. Sometimes one and sometimes the other. It depends on my mood. It depends on rather I feel if I was adding value to my archive by adding a backlink to the note.

    I hope this is helpful.

    Will Simpson
    kestrelcreek.com

  • When linking a note do you back link it as well[?]

    I am digital. Therefore, the method provides with backlinks automatically.

    do you write the original quote that sparked the thought in your mind on the index card or just your thought with the bibliographic information[?]

    It depends on the quality of the quote. If I really like it I capture it.

    Do you wait until a few books are read?

    No. Processing is more time consuming than reading. Therefore, I have a pile of read books with marginalia next to my desk. But I churn away like a worker in an old ford factory.

    So my question is when do you start to link notes? Do you wait for a certain number?

    Right from the beginning. I make it a point to always start with the connection before I create a Zettel.

  • @sfast in reference to the processing are you still using the barbell method? Also do you finish processing one book and then start reading another or are you reading one book while processing another?

  • @sfast said:
    Right from the beginning. I make it a point to always start with the connection before I create a Zettel.

    Yes! This is something I didn't appreciate when I started. Starting from a link. This is the most magic I got out of watching @ctietze processing Range. The value of starting from a structure note or creating a link within a related note and then further linking that branch. I feel that I'm up to 90% of new Zettel's starting from a link. Usually within structure note. 10% of the time ideas strick like lightening, seeming random, that I just record them without a prior link.

    I feel the linking domains of knowledge together is where the high value is. I have a Keyboard Maestro macro that searches my zettelkasten on highlighted phrases (1-4 words) for matches and I review potential candidates for linking. In this process of 'zettelkasting' I get to wrestle with my understanding of each zettel in question for potential linking.

    @sfast said:
    ... Processing is more time consuming than reading. Therefore, I have a pile of read books with marginalia next to my desk. But I churn away like a worker in an old ford factory.

    I too had a pile of papers and books read awaiting processing but I found that they were nagging on my conscience and I was procrastinating (personal problem). I'm trying processing as I go. I'm slowly reading 3 books and processing a couple of chapters in each as I go. This is slowing the reading process but there are some valuable benefits to slower reading. We'll see how this goes.

    I can hardly wait until the course is available. I'd volunteer for beta testing if you'd have me.

    Will Simpson
    kestrelcreek.com

  • @sfast @will thanks for both of your posts here. You always provide great insight.

  • @VDL1516 said:
    @sfast in reference to the processing are you still using the barbell method? Also do you finish processing one book and then start reading another or are you reading one book while processing another?

    Yes. Barbell for life. :smile:

    But the Zettelkasten Method entails the Barbell Method because you have to read and read a second time to process unless you really create Zettel while reading.

    But I am reading constantly while processing one book. My pile is therefore fluctuating because some books only need one hour of processing while others need weeks.

    @Will said:

    @sfast said:
    Right from the beginning. I make it a point to always start with the connection before I create a Zettel.

    Yes! This is something I didn't appreciate when I started. Starting from a link. This is the most magic I got out of watching @ctietze processing Range. The value of starting from a structure note or creating a link within a related note and then further linking that branch. I feel that I'm up to 90% of new Zettel's starting from a link. Usually within structure note. 10% of the time ideas strick like lightening, seeming random, that I just record them without a prior link.

    In that case, I'd reverse the process. Just jot the idea down and after that connect it to something else.

    I feel the linking domains of knowledge together is where the high value is. I have a Keyboard Maestro macro that searches my zettelkasten on highlighted phrases (1-4 words) for matches and I review potential candidates for linking. In this process of 'zettelkasting' I get to wrestle with my understanding of each zettel in question for potential linking.

    @sfast said:
    ... Processing is more time consuming than reading. Therefore, I have a pile of read books with marginalia next to my desk. But I churn away like a worker in an old ford factory.

    I too had a pile of papers and books read awaiting processing but I found that they were nagging on my conscience and I was procrastinating (personal problem). I'm trying processing as I go. I'm slowly reading 3 books and processing a couple of chapters in each as I go. This is slowing the reading process but there are some valuable benefits to slower reading. We'll see how this goes.

    I'd love to hear your experiential report. At the moment, I have two dedicated days for Zettelkasten work. But the reason is mainly to fit concentrated deep work into my schedule. Otherwise, it fall very short. But this year I should be able to free up much of my time and plan to do research and Zettelkasten daily. I will try a process similar to yours because I want to reduce parallel processing (reading one book but working with another).

    I can hardly wait until the course is available. I'd volunteer for beta testing if you'd have me.

    You are definetly in. :kissing:

  • @sfast said:
    In that case, I'd reverse the process. Just jot the idea down and after that connect it to something else.

    This is what I already do. Are you suggesting a different approach?

    I jot the rough note into the archive so it's not lost then hopefully it will get connected to other bits of understanding in my zettelkasten at some time in the future. I don't make any special effort but let circumstances dictate when and if a note gets linked and therefore integrated into my zettelkasten. The opportunity to link in one of these orphan notes often come up serendipitously during a "zettelkasting" session working in some seeming unrelated domain. I have a Keyboard Maestro macro that shows me a random note as an enticement to explore.

    @sfast said:
    I'd love to hear your experiential report. At the moment, I have two dedicated days for Zettelkasten work. But the reason is mainly to fit concentrated deep work into my schedule. Otherwise, it fall very short. But this year I should be able to free up much of my time and plan to do research and Zettelkasten daily. I will try a process similar to yours because I want to reduce parallel processing (reading one book but working with another).

    I know I am lucky. I'm only taking one university class this semester and I only spend 5 hours a week in the gym. Not working too helps. I'm retired. As part of my morning routine, I review new notes and modified notes from yesterday. Later, around dinner time, I try and touch each of 3 books, reading around 10 pages or so and processing yesterday's marginalia into my zettelkasten. I usually get 1-3 notes per 10 pages. Yesterday was a big day, as an example, I got 8 new notes. 2 from a book on Japanese haiku, 3 from Numbers and Nerves and 3 from New World, New Mind.

    Yesterday's "zettelkasting" felt very connected. Like I was growing something. Extracting the marginalia into a note is the easy part. Seeking the links, connecting the new understanding with the prior knowledge with links, adding context, and verbiage is where the value, work, enjoyment is!

    One thing I noticed last night was that I picked up New World, New Mind and for a moment I couldn't remember what the book was about. Probably just a senior moment and all was clear once I read a paragraph or two. There are some conscience switching costs around splitting reading time amongst three dissimilar books but it is compensated by the variety of mental stimulus and convergence three different avenues of thought bring.

    Will Simpson
    kestrelcreek.com

  • After a night's sleep, I feel the urge to clear up a few things in my last post. I'm afraid I made it sound like I was a "zettelkasting" machine. This is far from the truth. Some days are hot and some days are not and I was describing a hot day. Some days I just look at my books and go to bed not even reading a single page caught up in the daily grind. I've been at this a little over a year and I have a little over 900 notes. Averaging a little over 2 a day.

    I have procrastination issues and sometimes low activation energy. Using systems of habit formation I've slowly added more "zettelkasting" time. Triggered with my morning journaling, I review yesterday's new notes. This Keyboard Maestro macro helps. I reread them correcting spelling and grammar and adding anything contextual that presents itself. This second go at a new note takes only a few minutes. I try to read 5 books at a time so I can read whenever the opportunity presents. One physical, one ebook, one audiobook, one Mary and I read to each other and one for working out with.

    Habit formation is helped with a trigger and a reward. I use reading of a book set aside for only reading while doing cardio at the gym. This is a real incentive to do 2 or 3 hours of cardio a week. Over the years I've read many books this way. The current book will take a while as it is 2800+ pages.

    We all want to improve and therefore I'll steal any idea that helps. And you can steal from me if it helps.

    Will Simpson
    kestrelcreek.com

  • I am trying to stay true to Luhmann’s style while reading and writing the literature or first note by writing out my own thoughts and staying away from quotes. This feels awkward at times and it is very difficult to transcribe a quote that is someone’s process you want to remember. For example in reading the independent scholars handbook there is a quote that speaks about Eric Hoffer’s workflow and I find to be inspiring and might want to add it into my own workflow. I do not want to change the wording of it because this was the actual workflow he used.

  • @VDL1516 Here is my workflow around quotes.

    If I can't phrase an idea "better" in my own words, I'll capture the quote exactly. I keep practicing this rephrasing process and feel I'm getting better. I'm capturing fewer of other people's quotes and noting more of my own interpretations. Not always as some writers are just so elegant and I'd be fooling myself to think I'd say it better. Sometimes I just want to capture an idea and move on. Shown below is the workflow I'm currently using around capturing quotes when I don't rephrase them (sometimes I'll include both the original and my rephrasing).

    This is a note from a year ago but I haven't evolved my capturing quotes workflow much, only tried to make it more relevant and complete. Adding my commentary and trying not being lazy and falling to Collector Fallacy.

    I use a blockquote notation for the quote itself. I've started adding the citation using the markdown notation for a footnote.

    Then I add context in the form of observations, questions, arguments of agreement and disagreement, how this quoted nugget makes me feel. I include personal feelings sometimes in a more personal stream of conscious journaling form. Sappy but so what. It's my Zellekasten and I can do what I want.

    This note then is back linked to the structure note of this book and a couple of other relevant notes.

    Will Simpson
    kestrelcreek.com

  • @will I like your workflow and it makes sense to do it as you have. I guess I was trying to stick with the true style of Luhmann and see how that went though as you stated some quotes are to be left as the author had the best wording for it. Writing or linking my ideas to that quote makes sense as well.

  • edited January 22

    @Will Thanks for your insides. :smile:

    EDIT: I was advised to thank for insights rather insides. :blush:

    Post edited by sfast on
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