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Anyone use ZK Method for technology related information they read?

Initially I only used my ZK for non-tech related things I read. I then wondered how useful it might be for the wide variety of technical things I read for work and pleasure and whether it might serve a similar purpose to allow for finding new connections between otherwise disparate topics or even items within a topic. The jury is still out for me. For example, I recently wrote about 30 Zettels for AWS security related topics. I allowed my thought process to develop as a function of what I was reading, attempting to ask the same sort of questions I ask for non-tech things. I don't feel the same sort of power doing it for tech stuff yet. The weird cross connects don't seem to manifest as much or maybe since it's a new way for me to look at tech it will take some time to get used to it.

I'd be curious to see if any developers, hackers or RE's have used it for tech stuff and how they felt it went.

Comments

  • I don't feel the same sort of power doing it for tech stuff yet. The weird cross connects don't seem to manifest as much or maybe since it's a new way for me to look at tech it will take some time to get used to it.

    I can relate to that.

    I believe most things I take note of that relate to server maintenance, programming, etc. start like this. It's like recording facts most of the time. There are more vague and opinionated topics, like deciding which approach to use to solve a problem. That's similar to non-tech topics. But the facts, code snippets, how-to's, they stand for themselves for a long time in my Zettelkasten.

    Eventually, there are topics that help me group knowledge. Taking note on how to style text in a macOS text view is a simple atomic how-to at first, but eventually evolves into approaches to implement syntax highlighting, and then I end up with a "topic" like Markdown syntax highlighting in The Archive and Syntax parser comparisons etc.

    But I don't create structure notes for everything I collect. I do have overviews of essential shell scripting snippets, or an overview of how to write CLI apps that use the current directory and how to write that in different programming/scripting languages. I also have totally unconnected code snippets that don't have any peers because I was just starting to explore something new.

    Take CSS for example: Starting from a technical perspective, I'd collect CSS flex-box snippets (that' used to lay-out elements on a page). How to make a gallery overview, for example. Eventually I'd start collecting CSS grid layout snippets that don't use flex-box. Then I notice differences, similarities, and maybe browser compatibility issues, so I eventually create an overview that compares the approaches. This step is where things begin to connect and become interesting and hierarchies of things evolve.

    In my experience, this requires collecting a couple of these 'factual' notes, of snippets and how-to's, before I come up with something more general. With non-tech topics, this lowest 'factual' layer is often not necessary to take note of a concept.


    Maybe a historian can relate to this, too? I imagine collecting facts or factoids is part of a historian's daily work, too.

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

  • I am experimenting with a parallel use for my Zettelkasten: I am a birder, and I have started to track data on bird species (identification distinctions that work for me personally along with interesting facts), birding locations (best locales to see certain birds with specific directions on where birds are best found), and people I meet while birding. This could be helpful for not, but I will never know unless I try!

  • Is your intent to find heretofore unknown connections in their behaviour or migratory patterns? This seems to me to be the cornerstone of the ZK method. It strikes me not as a database of information, rather as Luhmann himself wrote about, a conversation partner. It's this very part that I'm struggling with when attempting to apply it to hacking stuff. It's almost like the quantitative world is not "squishy enough" for the more philosophical kinds of additional questions and connections we find in other topics.

  • edited May 24

    @ctietze Have you discovered anything new or interesting in your examples above? You mentioned similarities and differences but this seems to be almost an intermediate step in the process rather than the ultimate benefit of the ZK method. Maybe I'm overthinking it because I've yet to be able to make any new discoveries in my tech ZK versus my regular one. With that said, I do feel a disturbance in the ZK force in that maybe it might not be accommodative enough for this type of information. I remain open minded though.

  • @zhanzh3ng said:
    @ctietze Have you discovered anything new or interesting in your examples above? You mentioned similarities and differences but this seems to be almost an intermediate step in the process rather than the ultimate benefit of the ZK method. Maybe I'm overthinking it because I've yet to be able to make any new discoveries in my tech ZK versus my regular one. With that said, I do feel a disturbance in the ZK force in that maybe it might not be accommodative enough for this type of information. I remain open minded though.

    Depends on what you deem worthy of the title 'new', I guess.

    When I start a new topic and have no knowledge, then collect snippets and some stuff from documentation, then eventually flesh out an approach to solve a particular problem and implement it -- that's new enough to me.

    In some cases that are less concrete, like things pertaining "software architecture" instead of "how to solve code problem X", it's easier to get to a higher level and write about abstract things, about concepts and models, none of which fit the daily grind of figuring out how to implement a narrow feature. (To throw some terms into the mix: I can write a lot more about unidirectional data flow or layered architecture or code heuristics than I can write about the quick sort algorithm. Could be my lack of interest in algorithms, though :))

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

  • Makes sense.

  • @cctrovall said:
    I am experimenting with a parallel use for my Zettelkasten: I am a birder, and I have started to track data on bird species (identification distinctions that work for me personally along with interesting facts), birding locations (best locales to see certain birds with specific directions on where birds are best found), and people I meet while birding. This could be helpful for not, but I will never know unless I try!

    I am a fellow birder. I hadn't considered using a ZK to track birding activities, but then I am very content using the app eBird to do what you describe, along with its companion Merlin Bird ID. I can't see myself expending the extra effort to build a parallel knowledge system - but that's not a criticism, it just applies to me. You may find the ZK approach to pay great dividends in your birding activities; I hope it does!

  • @GeoEng51 said:
    I am a fellow birder. I hadn't considered using a ZK to track birding activities, but then I am very content using the app eBird to do what you describe, along with its companion Merlin Bird ID.

    Like you, I have been content to use eBird and Merlin apps for most of these details. From time to time, though, I have wanted to capture information on the people I meet, and where I meet them, and the details of our conversations (e.g. new places to bird in an area; recommendations of good places to stay when traveling; specific directions to those locales especially in rural areas, etc.).

    Additionally, my local listserv often locates birds in specific locations outside of the usual hotspots. I have never known exactly where to keep a list of those locations that are handy, and my ZK seems to fit that bill so far.

    Finally, as I learn new distinctive characteristics of birds, I like to have a list of notes that are my own, and that I can review and supplement and make connections with other species. Flycatchers are a notoriously good example, and I hate going back to the books and rereading things I have already processed.

    @zhanzh3ng said:
    Is your intent to find heretofore unknown connections in their behaviour or migratory patterns? This seems to me to be the cornerstone of the ZK method. It strikes me not as a database of information, rather as Luhmann himself wrote about, a conversation partner.

    These were not my original intents, but I don't see why those items might not be a part of my process at some point if I become sufficiently proficient as an amateur birder. I really don't have any 'goals' or 'expectations' of the items I input other than that I find them personally useful. I will let my future self decide if there are connections that are valuable or not. And, if not, I have had the opportunity to let my writing help my thinking, even in the less abstract areas. FWIW, I mostly use my ZK for my academic work in philosophy and ethics - it has supplemented my teaching immensely.

  • @zhanzh3ng said:
    The weird cross connects don't seem to manifest as much or maybe since it's a new way for me to look at tech it will take some time to get used to it.

    I have several hundred notes of a technical nature, many of which roll up to project-encompassing structure notes. As I start a new project, I often search for the way that I solved problem X previously, and the only vestigial memory of it that I have lies at the project level. So in this way, by starting from these notes, I can work myself back to the knowledge of the solution. It's useful to me; but I agree with you that it doesn't have the same sort of synthetic value as notes that are in softer, more open disciplines.

    Slavic languages, natural language processing, etc.
    Writes at ojisanseuichi.com.

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