# RE: Backlinks Should Be Context-Rich

edited July 2021

Jared Gorski wrote a response to my article “Backlinks are bad links”. Since it’s a short and concise response, a re-response is warranted. He summarised my point fairly and sufficiently, so I don’t need to repeat myself here. If you are not familiar, please read the article linked above. I’ll reply to Jared’s post point by point.

• edited July 2021

### <#/philosphizing>

I've slipped into grand anthropomorphizing.
Paraphrasing Stonie Davis

**From Article **

From RE: Backlinks Should Be Context-Rich
Forward links are specific, and if carefully placed, are enriched with good reasons why they were placed. ... Meaning is created by intimate interaction

In reality, there is no such thing as a 'forward' link or a 'backward' link. Ideas form relationships, and we use annotation to codify and solidify those relationships. I'm even hesitant to call them links. It's a false dichotomy to separate links into arbitrary distinctions such as forward and backward.

In the note list, of this example, on the left is the list of zettel in relationship with Link Association Levels 202008222000. Together they form a web of intrigue, a constellation of material matter.

Good note titles represent the content of the note. Not one iota is related to a connection.

Titles of your zettel are not the descriptors of your links. Two different skill sets are used in curating each. This post discusses the skills needed for titling, and more can be said on the skills needed for linking.

Linking and titling make up the core of what makes or breaks your zettelkasting. In the early stages of zettelkasting, many things want attention, and it takes a while to catch on to the subtleties of linking and titling. (Some of us take FOREVER!)

Don't beat yourself up. Remember, as you know better, you'll do better. All ideas/zettel are malleable.

### <#philosphizing/>

Will Simpson
“Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”
kestrelcreek.com

• edited July 2021

In reality, there is no such thing as a 'forward' link or a 'backward' link. Ideas form relationships, and we use annotation to codify and solidify those relationships. I'm even hesitant to call them links. It's a false dichotomy to separate links into arbitrary distinctions such as forward and backward.

A rather platonic discussion. Which is more real? The idea or its manifestation in our world? Or: The link or the connection between two knowledge entities?

I am a Zettler

• The discussions around forward/backward linking always feel somewhat abstract to me: not really about use cases.

@Sascha points out something that resonates with me: the linked notes form a network. For me, this is nice, since I can think about my notes as a graph.

This means the following:

• a note becomes a vertex;
• a link becomes an edge (where each vertex can have multiple edges);
• an edge can have properties like weight, so influence how the network is traversed;
• the graph is a directed graph, since each link starts at a note and points to another note;
• backlinks become a technical "thing", since a backlink is created by simply flipping the direction of an edge.

So far, not much help on making this less abstract though...

Graphs are cool since you can traverse graphs in all sorts of ways to retrieve information about the network:

• figure out if two notes are connected through other notes, quickly see if notes are related to each other;
• find the shortest path between two vertices in the network. If notes are related, how are they related?
• easily extract notes from the network with a notion of depth, in order. Pick a single note and extract all related notes up to a degree.
• follow edges (links ) in both directions to find notes (predecessors and successors).

Traversing the network helps my Zettelkasten surprise me. A really cool example is to use shortest path (see the minimal lattice between two notes) to visualise the lattice like Jethro's braindump, where instead of manually clicking through the links to create the lattice, the lattice can be found automatically and viewed.

Likewise, simply extracting notes for further processing is also much easier, since you get them in-order that a note is found. How edges are traversed (forward or backward) also gives different notes, that again may be surprising.

Long story short, I don't really care about forward/backward linking anymore, since backlinking for me is just a technical thing.