Zettelkasten Forum

Does a Zettelkasten contain EVERY knowledge?

I am about to implement my first Zettelkasten and have a question regarding what type of knowledge it should contain. Since linking is so important, I wonder how this works out with my position:

I am a software developer, moved to a business role in the job, and studies currently Finance in my free time. I am reading books on probably 5 different topics at the moment and I am generally an interested person. I am also currently writing a book with a publisher on a programming language.

I have:

  • Work knowledge from my half-business/half-software position
  • My book project about how to use this specific programming language
  • My interest in finance and crypto currencies lately
  • Interest in Psychology
  • ...

Now when I start inserting notes for my job, and then I add the first few notes for my book, those two topics don't correlate. Then I go over to crypto and other finance vehicles, and they don't link with my work knowledge.

Should I just accept that for the first few weeks I have some loose ends in my system? Or how can I approach this?

I would also love a proper 10 minute introduction which cuts out all the crap and goes to the point of implementation instead of talking at length about how great the Zettelkasten system is :)


  • My personal Zettelkasten contains everything I deem to be knowledge. So, I argued multiple times: Yes. Anything can go in. I have workout plans, philosophy, reflections, physiology, humanities and even prose in my Zettelkasten.

    An introduction will be published in a couple of days on this blog. But it is not a 10 Minute read.

    I am a Zettler

  • Yes, what makes the zettelkasten work so well is the idea that we discount how interconnected sets of information is in the world. So by centralizing all our information in one place/system, we allow those hidden connections to emerge. We have one reality, the reason we break it up is because complexity is very hard to cognitively deal with. People seem to forget that and think of reality as a bunch of different loosely connected sets of information.

    People dissuade you from this because having centralized notes introduces a lot of complexity and if you don't have a system to store and manage it well, it gets overwhelming. Zettelkasten is just a way to store and manage it so that you can have all your information interconnecting and creating a richer understanding.

  • I'm still in the early stages of my own ZK system, so take this with a grain of salt.

    While I agree in principle that ZK can help highlight interesting interfaces between domains that may not have been considered, I believe that in practice it may be useful to maintain different ZK archives whose scopes are delimited by particular purposes or projects. Although I'm still working on my first project using ZK, I think that I will end of merging different projects into a single unified archive as I finish each one.

    I see maintaining the structure of the archive as a whole as being a task in itself, and I dedicate time just for curating tags, establishing links, updating titles, etc. It's separate from the process of initial recording. I think that a similar distinction may be useful when integrating independent yet interconnected ZK archives.

  • @rufus42 I've been building a Zettelkasten for about 3 months now, and learning how it "works" (for me) as I go along. My vote is to have everything in my ZK, and that is exactly what I do. If you understand the concepts of a) connecting notes (Zettels) to form thought "trains" and b) using structure notes to keep track of your thought "trains", you will see that it doesn't matter if you have a mix of different types of information in your ZK. In fact, as @Sascha says, it helps your knowledge management and understanding.

    @Will posted the following link the other day to an introductory article that I believe does a good job of explaining a) and b) above, plus a number of other ZK concepts:


    It takes about 30 minutes to read, but the language is straight forward / easily understood, and there are even a few good, supporting figures.

  • @rufus42 said:

    I would also love a proper 10 minute introduction which cuts out all the crap and goes to the point of implementation instead of talking at length about how great the Zettelkasten system is :)

    Look at some of my earlier posts. I don't have many so you'll find them in no time.


    I am generally an interested person.

    you mean you're an interesting person or a person with many interests right? otherwise I don't like interested people :(

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