Zettelkasten Forum


Links and DAG

I am quite new to Zettelkasten.
In the last few days, I have read many blogposts and the overview here.

I still have a doubt though.. Should notes link only to older ones? If yes, they are connected like a directed acyclic graph.

The argument for it would be:
1. Notes don't need to change, they are just linked to from new ones
2. The relationship from one note to another can be derived both from the same link as two notes cannot link each others: backlinks are the way to see how they are related
3. No cycles (loops): each note can be traced back to a "seed"
4. Easier management: recent notes can be deleted easily since there will likely be few notes that reference them

Counterarguments:
1. Possible lack of expressiveness of the link lead to non-obvious backlinks
2. Knowledge doesn't really work this way: new knowledge is associated bi-directionally and direct links may be better

Also I am not sure what the implications would be for links between literature and permanent notes.
Like.. Literature note can link to previous permanent notes that are useful for the idea. But what for permanent notes created just to explain something in the literature note? I guess we treat them as if they were older than the literature note, even if the UID is more recent (timestamp) breaking a bit the rule. This means: create the new permanent note but linking to it from the older literature note. As for permanent notes that then emerge from literature note review — meaning after finishing the literature note — I guess they link the literature note that inspired their creation.

Comments

  • Welcome, @daeq0! From the way you bring up this matter, it looks you have some kind of technical background. Your points are similar to the idea of 'immutability' and 'decoupling' in computer programming, for example; here, notes would not need to change because another note comes into existence, they would only change when their content changes, etc.

    Your 2nd counter-argument is trumping everything else: knowledge doesn't work this way. Ideas are interconnected, and sometimes do depend on bi-directional relationships. To make this less techy: if you have an argument, then come up with a counter-argument, you might be inclined to mention the original argument in the new counter-argument note, and vice-versa. There's no benefit in limiting yourself here if your goal is to connect knowledge -- as opposed to avoiding connections that make sense to you for arbitrary technical reasons.

    TL;DR: Don't get blocked in your practice by such academic/theoretical thoughts; stick to the basic principles as guidelines, then experiment and observe if things get better or worse.

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

  • Thanks a lot, makes perfect sense.

    Will start experimenting soon.

  • @daeq0 said:
    I still have a doubt though. Should notes link only to older ones? If yes, they are connected like a directed acyclic graph.

    Welcome to the forums. Your counterarguments eclipse your arguments.
    I was caught up short by your initial question, "Should notes link only to older ones?" My initial response is, "What other notes are there that can be linked to but ones already created? You can't practically link to future notes?"

    Counterargument:
    1. Possible lack of expressiveness of the link lead to non-obvious backlinks

    If a link has expressiveness, it is a well-thought-out link.

    @ctietze said:
    [DR! (DEFINITELY READ):] Don't get blocked in your practice by such academic/theoretical thoughts; stick to the basic principles as guidelines, then experiment and observe if things get better or worse.

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

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