"Content notes" and "Structure notes" – Should these terms be replaced?
When it comes to what kinds of notes should make up a zettelkasten, the usual answer given on this website – inspired by Luhmann's original approach – is: content notes and structure notes.
Content notes are supposed to be about one (and ideally only one) interesting idea/thought like "The nutrient-density in our vegetables is declining", "The system of organisation of a zettelkasten is a heterarchy" or "Love is presence" – so-called "units of knowledge". The note could be used to present the idea more precisely, discuss objections to and evidence for it, link to related ideas, etc.
A structure note is a note that draws together several other notes in the zettelkasten for some purpose – it's about a relationship between those notes. Typical examples are annotated lists of links to several content notes on the same topic – similar to a table of content, see here and here – but they can also have other formats like in this example, see also @sfast's post here. Structure notes will often be good "entry points" into the zettelkasten, being "control panels" providing several links to other notes within a certain context.
I think the terms "content notes" and "structure notes" don't quite capture the essence of what the two types of notes are supposed to be about and can therefore be quite misleading – there are several examples of related confusion in forum threads. The terms suggest that content notes capture the actual information/knowledge in the zettelkasten whereas structure notes are just about making this information accessible via grouping and ordering links to it. But:
- Content notes are also allowed to link to several other notes, which "structures" the zettelkasten.
- Structure notes also seem to be allowed to have actual "content" in them, e.g. definitions (see this example again).
Less misleading terms for the two types of notes might be "idea notes" and "relationship notes".
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