Zettelkasten Forum


Zettelkasten for "trains of thought"

Sometimes I use my zettelkasten to record trains of thought. For example, each morning I wake my daughter up at 7am to get her to school on time. Most days I’m dragging her out of bed before dark because of daylight savings time. I thought to myself “why don’t we make these school schedules relative to sunrise rather than a fixed schedule, and adjust work and other thing as well?” I thought about it for a while and then later recorded a quick “zettel”:


202001060930 We should use of relative wake up times

As I dragged my daughter out of bed before dark this morning for school, I thought to myself, “Why not adjust the school start time on a daily basis to coincide with 1 hour after sunrise?”

We have the automation capabilities, sophisticated clocks, and intelligence built into most of our systems that would enable this change in practice not only for school, but for many kinds of work as well. Why do we insist on continuing to adjust our biology to fit our systems, rather than the other way around [[202001060934]]?

TODO: Link Note to Taleb’s notion of alarm clocks and slavery


Which led to:


202001060934 Adjust societal systems to fit biology

It is best practice to choose tools that fit our processes, and not to adjust processes to fit specific tools [[201902211043]], yet we force ourselves to change our biological processes to fit the tools of civilization on a regular basis rather than the other way around.

  • We wake ourselves up outside of our circadian rhythms to be on the same schedule as everyone else. [[202001060930]]
  • We eat meals at times that aren’t optimal to fit schedules [TODO]

Society and civilization at large are emergent systems that seem to exist to make our physiological lives better, right? Humanity has created health systems to reduce infant mortality rates and improve longevity. Humanity has created social safety nets to protect ourselves from death by starvation. Why not make adjustments to our societal systems to accommodate our most basic biological processes?


There are mostly ideas here, and a lot of questions, but it’s not really knowledge. It’s more like a train of thought, a head scratcher that calls for more research, more references, and certainly better organization. I tend to title my notes as assertions that need testing and validation, so they perhaps sound like knowledge. Maybe they should be titled as questions to be more clear.

I think many would call these fleeting notes, and perhaps they are, but I can’t think of a better place to record these then in my zettelkasten. On the other hand I don’t really have time to do anything other than ponder and record the thought, so maybe it would be better that it went to its grave in a notebook somewhere if it’s just going to sit idle forever. What are your thoughts?

Does anyone else use their zettelkasten in this way as well?

Comments

  • @TRumnell said:
    Does anyone else use their zettelkasten in this way as well?

    My Zettelkasten contains numerous trains of thought that have evolved from the activity of connecting zettels. They don't necessarily develop all at once, in the manner you describe, but sometimes they do. Sometimes, writing one zettel produces additional ideas, leading to other zettels. You can really get on a roll. But I would say that is only an occasional occurrence for me.

  • edited January 6

    @TRumnell

    I use my zettelkasten somewhat in that way. I also wouldn't call those fleeting notes because you expand on them. A fleeting note would be more like me text messaging myself while dog walking "school schedules should not be tied to biological clock". Which I then return to when I get back from my walk and create a permanent note out of.

    And that actually has been a much discussed phenomenon. I think society does not do that because I'd say the key reason for school system is as a daycare system. The education is just a parasitic benefit.

  • @TRumnell said:
    I think many would call these fleeting notes, and perhaps they are, but I can’t think of a better place to record these then in my zettelkasten. On the other hand I don’t really have time to do anything other than ponder and record the thought, so maybe it would be better that it went to its grave in a notebook somewhere if it’s just going to sit idle forever. What are your thoughts?

    Does anyone else use their zettelkasten in this way as well?

    You are a lucky man. Your daughter is lucky to have such a thoughtful father.

    Insights like this are gifts from the universe, and capturing them takes chutzpah. You grabbed this opportunity, and so would I have. Now you'll see if it has legs.

    Pondering and recording are the first stages of any worthwhile ideation. Maybe this idea will go idle, but maybe not, and if you'd not captured the wild idea in the first place, it surely would have gone idle forever. Now it stands a chance.

    --

    Playing with the metaphor.

    • the idea can be wild like a Rare Siberian Tiger
    • you can capture the idea like capturing a wolverine
    • you can capture it in the wild, like while mushroom hunting stumbling on a patch of Morchella

    Will Simpson
    I'm a zettelnant.
    Research areas: Attention Horizon, Dzogchen, Non-fiction Creative Writing
    kestrelcreek.com

  • There are mostly ideas here, and a lot of questions, but it’s not really knowledge. It’s more like a train of thought, a head scratcher that calls for more research, more references, and certainly better organization. I tend to title my notes as assertions that need testing and validation, so they perhaps sound like knowledge. Maybe they should be titled as questions to be more clear.

    Both notes together are knowledge. To me, the first note is about a specific phenomenon the second a generalisation to other phenomenons. Knowledge comes from truth (you could make an argument, provide evidence etc.), relevance (which you already did with "Society and civilization at large are emergent systems that seem to exist to make our physiological lives better, right?") and beauty (difficult to explain).

    So, you did already some of the work necessary to create knowledge. I would say it is incomplete knowledge.

    I think many would call these fleeting notes, and perhaps they are, but I can’t think of a better place to record these then in my zettelkasten. On the other hand I don’t really have time to do anything other than ponder and record the thought, so maybe it would be better that it went to its grave in a notebook somewhere if it’s just going to sit idle forever. What are your thoughts?
    Does anyone else use their zettelkasten in this way as well?

    I do the same most of the time. I am just more formal about it and (because of practice) instinctively be more complete with those kind of notes. But to me, you got the spirit of the Zettelkasten Method exactly right and it is evident. If you just put both notes in a row and read it as if it was a text that is aimed at a proposal of why and how to improve schedules it fits perfectly well. To use those two notes in an actual book you just need to edit them but not ask yourself what you were thinking back then.

    From the methological standpoint there is no problem in recording well formulated questions.

    I am a Zettler

  • @sfast and @Will

    Thanks so much for your responses. Those two replies are have really illuminated things for me.

    if you'd not captured the wild idea in the first place, it surely would have gone idle forever. Now it stands a chance

    Very good perspective, and a most artful rendering in your examples.

    Knowledge comes from truth... relevance... and beauty...

    This really resonated with me and has kicked off a series of new notes.

    But to me, you got the spirit of the Zettelkasten Method exactly right and it is evident

    Coming from @sfast, this is encouraging. Really, thank you very much

Sign In or Register to comment.