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Zettelkasten Method in Robert Pirsigs Lila

Zettelkasten Method in Robert Pirsigs Lila

The Zettelkasten note-taking method has made book writing and writing scientific papers easy for hundreds of years already.

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  • Beautiful Novel - you should definately read it. Starting with Pirsig's first book (Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) may be a better idea.

  • In case anybody's curious, here's a relevant excerpt of Lila on note taking.

    The reason Phaedrus used slips rather than full-sized sheets of paper is that a card-catalog tray full of slips provides a more random access. When information is organized in small chunks that can be accessed and sequenced at random it becomes much more valuable than when you have to take it in serial form.

    Sounds familiar, eh?

  • Agree with @yalcinarsan, start with Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but Lila is great. ZAMM was a life-changer for me. I remember reading and putting 2 and 2 together, then later reading about Robert Greene's method via Ryan Holiday. This was years before hearing anything about Zettelkasten, but certainly there are some similarities.

  • @improveism what is meant by random access?

  • @Nick said:
    @improveism what is meant by random access?

    I think it means it literally. Instead of being in an organized sequence, notes would appear at random when the card stack is accessed. So that loads the working memory and allows you to "see" surprising connections.

  • I believe "appear at random" sounds misleading. It's not like you'd have to close your eyes and pick a note and then Surprise!

    Random access means you can pick any note directly. It's pretty trivial in the physical world. But this is a computer metaphor applies to a physical storage.

    A physical non-random access Zettelkasten could maybe be a vertical pile, or a stack, with walls around. Like a note dispenser. You have to take away the topmost notes again and again until you reach the note you wanted to get to. (The walls are there so you cannot grab the topmost 100 notes and put them on the side, but you have to go through each and every note that's in the way.)

    Again, this kind of access wouldn't make sense in the physical world, but in some data structures that you deal with on a computer, this traversal of the whole sequence from the start is actually quite common.

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

  • edited May 2020

    @improveism gotcha that just seems kinda... random... lol

    @ctietze thanks! I knew it had to be a weird computer term. The word "Random access memory" came to mind. Not because that is the term for RAM(which I just say instead) but because of the Daft Punk song...

  • Bonus points for the Daft Punk reference I was able to resist making :)

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

  • Does anyone know what happened to Pirsig's slips? I mean the real, physical things? Are they preserved anywhere? Are there digital copies anywhere? It would be such a shame if he created this body of ideas and no-one else saw it!

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