Zettelkasten Forum


ZettelKasten in Notion, are Structural Notes and Index Notes really necessary?

Hello everyone, I started my Zettelkasten a few days ago on Notion. This way of storing ideas and connecting them to each other is blowing up my mind!

I am learning in baby steps how to build an effective archive, and I am still trying to understand if I can get any advantage from creating Index and Structural Notes. The tagging system in Notion allows me to see list of notes clustered by topic tags and object tags, which is basically the same function a Structural Note would have.

I can see the utility of a structural notes when the archive become larger and you need to follow a particular branch of a topic in order to research or write. By I struggle to see any use right now.

I came here to ask because I feel there might be some fallacy in my thought process, and I should start to create Structural Notes ASAP.

Comments

  • Tags give you an implicitly sorted structure/index note for the tag, but that is just one view on them. In my opinion structure/index are useful because they allow you multiple such views structured in different ways. You can explicitly list the related notes in a way that makes sense for that particular viewpoint or it allows you to manually make a finer grained selection than just "everything that has this tag". They are also useful for when you a bunch of notes that you access often together when working on something. I see them as a fundamental part within the brain analogy, where they allow you to strengthen connections between Zettels (i.e. neurons) further than just having straight links between normal Zettels.

    You should never create them for the sake of having them, if searching on tag suffices for you, by all means continue to do that. Just know that they do have a reason to exist, even if you have the ability to search for tags and such.

  • edited April 27

    Because the flat hierarchy inherent in the system, don’t worry about structure notes right now.

    They are suppose to naturally emerge when you’ve take a ton of notes and start to see clusters where it then becomes convenient to create a structure note around.

    Creating structure notes off the bat is a bad idea because it pushes you towards premature categorization. You don’t want to categorize stuff early, instead you want categories to emerge naturally because you just happened to take a lot of notes on a specific subject.

    Where this is neat is if you allow them to emerge naturally you might see categories or themes form that surprise you and you wouldn’t have considered if you started creating categories and structure notes from the get go.

  • Thanks @grayen & @Nick. You clarified nicely my doubts.

    To expand on that, If Structural Zettels are to be used only when they naturally arise, I assume the same is true for Indexing Zettels, which are conglomerates of Structural Zettels? So if Structural Zettels are for connecting Zettels, Indexing Zettels are for related Structural Zettels?

    Thanks for your guidance

  • @alxfazio As far as I know an index Zettel is just a different term used for mostly the same thing. With an index Zettel you are just expressing explicitly that it contains an index to give structure, while a structure Zettel might bring structure without the use of an index, i.e. just a more general term for the same.

  • @alxfazio while indexes do grow naturally, you create one from the very start. Each time you create a new note sequence, you add it to the index.

  • I am not familiar with notion, but I'd start with Structure Zettels right away if I had to start over again.

    I am a Zettler

  • @grayen said:
    Tags give you an implicitly sorted structure/index note for the tag, but that is just one view on them. In my opinion structure/index are useful because they allow you multiple such views structured in different ways.

    Yes, I think of the difference as being tags for things I want to group together across my entire archive and Structure Notes as my dissection/processing of a meme. By meme, I mean book, lecture, video, theory, or story. I have a couple of Structure Notes centered on books about sauntering and several other random notes on sauntering and some other Structure notes where some of the associated notes are about sauntering are all tagged #sauntering. Turns out I only have 15 notes tagged #sauntering but you get the idea I hope.

    Multiple views into my archive is a key goal.
    Creating structure notes is the #1 way I work my mental umwelt into my archive.
    Structure notes are my #1 way into my archive.

    You should never create them for the sake of having them, if searching on tag suffices for you, by all means continue to do that. Just know that they do have a reason to exist, even if you have the ability to search for tags and such.

    Here I mildly, kinda sorta, gently, just a little disagree. Creating structure notes is key to processing what comes into your world and wants into your archive. Maybe not 100% of the time but most of the time. Like @sfast I wish I'd jumped on the structure note bandwagon earlier. I'd even go so far as to say your second note should be an attempt at a structure note. This would help get your mind around the whole Zettelkasting experience.

    Will Simpson
    I'm a Zettelnant.
    Research: Rationalism, Zen, Non-fiction Creative Writing
    kestrelcreek.com

  • @sfast exact opposite of what I said! What led you to think that conclusion of wishing to start them early?

  • @Nick said:
    @sfast exact opposite of what I said! What led you to think that conclusion of wishing to start them early?

    In way, there are two layers of any department of my Zettelkasten. The content layer and the structural layer. The structural layer is some kind of handler or remote or something like that. Also: Structure Zettel serve as desks to develop ideas.

    I am a Zettler

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