Zettelkasten Forum


A question for all you ZKers that don't use titles

I've always wondered this, but keep forgetting to ask:

For those of you who only use timestamps and/or alphanumeric IDs, how the hell do you find stuff?

I'm guessing you perform keyword searches, and then follow the links embedded in the notes themselves? But, especially if you're using a timestamp, is there no way for you to simply scan through the file list and drop into a note that seems interesting based on the title?

Absolutely no judgment from my end. I'm genuinely curious who you approach your workflow, as I see a lot of diehard fans of the title-free approach, and just wondering how you navigate with it.

PS- In case you're wondering, I use alphanumeric/tree with a title attached:

Comments

  • edited October 20

    I wouldn't ever find anything with a file browser without titles in the filename. I use a reference manager that translate titles into IDs. With this, browsing through my notes is a no-brainer.

    Inside of notes i only mention the ID to link. The text i write around it tells me what the link is about.

    For an overview i use the format title + ID.

    my first Zettel uid: 202008120915

  • edited October 20

    @zk_1000 said:
    I wouldn't ever find anything with a file browser without titles in the filename.

    And yet, many people on here go all in on the timestamp file name (unless I'm mistaken). I'm so curious how that works! I'm constantly digging through my ZK for notes I want to incorporate in writing. I couldn't imagine not having titles as at least on extra layer of ease.

    Some people elsewhere have mentioned how not having thematic /topical titles might reduce "availability bias," which I'm guessing has to do with limiting the searching for specific zettel?? The opposite of one of the ways I use the ZK.

    Part of me wonders if this is more for people who struggle to maintain a writing practice? Or struggle with writer's block. I don't, and never have thankfully! ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ

    Again, interesting.

    Post edited by taurusnoises on
  • I don't think it is that popular, although some use it.

    it does render my sidebar useless and any tool directly applied on that extra layer. It is definitely habit forming as i am forced to rely on other solutions. I don't ever use a sidebar, although i don't use the extra space. The extra layer of ease clearly doesn't come from filenames. I'm getting convenience by other means. It's not easy to explain how i navigate. Some elements are more accessible than others. The struggle is always the same: searching and finding.

    I don't know how others do it, it works for me. I cannot directly interact with files, like drag and drop file lists from one Software to another, because i don't know what a file is without title.

    I do have titles, though. They're in plain text inside the note.

    I'm often digging with full-text search, but far more complex than keyword search. And i am simply scanning through a list of titles. It's all plain-text, so basically: show me the result under the cursor. I see no difference between writing and digging, it's all "under the cursor". But none of it has anything to do with filenames.

    Some people elsewhere have mentioned how not having thematic /topical titles might reduce "availability bias," which I'm guessing has to do with limiting the searching for specific zettel?? The opposite of one of the ways I use the ZK.

    This reminds me of a problem i had. All titles are competing with each others - which one is the most relevant for my search? I had some problems with approximation where longer titles suppressed shorter ones. An exact match would never appear in any search for some titles. It's a problem with my search algorithm, it can also happen with timestamps but chances are much lower.

    Timestamps have less availability bias than titles. It means that a good title helps you search and find things. A date is neutral to this. With one helpful search after another your opinion is incrementally more and more biased, because some things are easier to find than others - a regenerative feedback loop.

    Availability bias is unavoidable. I think we have to embrace it, learn living with it. Many of my feedback loops gain highest value once they're saturated. We can use it to our advantage as a high level concept, i wonder?

    Part of me wonders if this is more for people who struggle to maintain a writing practice? Or struggle with writer's block. I don't, and never have thankfully! ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ

    I don't understand the idea. I don't have a steady writing practice, but how is this related to filenames?

    my first Zettel uid: 202008120915

  • @taurusnoises said:

    @zk_1000 said:
    I wouldn't ever find anything with a file browser without titles in the filename.

    And yet, many people on here go all in on the timestamp file name (unless I'm mistaken). I'm so curious how that works!

    Permit me to explain how this works in Zettlr.

    I'm acquiring a MacBook Pro soon. When I have this, I'll try out The Archive to see if the H1 title feature is supported.

    ZK implemented with Zettlr+Pandoc+MikTeX+Zotero+BetterBibTex. Erdös #2.

  • I don't understand the idea. I don't have a steady writing practice, but how is this related to filenames?

    I've noticed a trend among some people (defs not all!) who use more austere ZK set-ups (lack of titles, plain text, etc) in part as a way of making thematic connections come easier, as a way to filter out distractions, and the like. Again, not all people, by any means! But, I've wondered if for some people the austerity is more out of necessity. I use my ZK almost exclusively for writing, and don't have problems with making connections, or being distracted (I actually welcome some distractions). And, so was wondering aloud if the timestamp-only approach was part of a hack to reduce creative block.

  • I've been hanging around this forum for nearly four years now, and I wasn't aware that anybody used time stamps only to identify their Zettels. Certainly not something that I would dream of doing. I work on a Mac, and I often find Zettels from outside The Archive, by using Spotlight, HoudahSpot, DEVONsphere, or some other search facility. Time stamps alone would make that much more difficult.

  • @MartinBB said:
    I've been hanging around this forum for nearly four years now, and I wasn't aware that anybody used time stamps only to identify their Zettels.

    OK, this is interesting! I'm obviously new around this forum (excited to be here. It's like the 90s all over again). I could have sworn when I was seeing screen shots I was seeing timestamps only. And, in the reddit forums I sometimes come across it.

    Unless I'm going crazy ๐Ÿคช

    I blame covid.

  • Now i'm confused. Are we discussing file names without title or entire Zettelkasten with no titles whatsoever? Only IDs are used to identify, but if you mean IDs for search then we must also know which data is embedded in the ID: time stamps, folge, tree, prefixes, ...

    my first Zettel uid: 202008120915

  • edited October 21

    @zk_1000 said:
    Now i'm confused. Are we discussing file names without title or entire Zettelkasten with no titles whatsoever? Only IDs are used to identify, but if you mean IDs for search then we must also know which data is embedded in the ID: time stamps, folge, tree, prefixes, ...

    I'm talking about in the sidebar where most systems list the notes/files, I've noticed people having only time IDs and alphanumerics without titles. I had seen that for a while, but never asked how people work with their ZK when there aren't topical titles listed in the sidebar as well.

    So, I'm not talking about metadata in the note, or what people do inside the note. Just how they are listed in the sidebar, and how people work from that view.

    Though, I'm starting to think this is more a niche practice (and less widespread) than I originally thought. To be continued!

  • I don't think that this has been discussed in this forum before. Filenames without title, sure, but sidebars without title? Sounds like a good strategy for calendar savants. I'm open to ideas, though :p

    my first Zettel uid: 202008120915

  • I only use time IDs with no titles. I do maintain a color-coding system, and Zettel notes are linked by name title to keywords. Having no titles works because my system has a relatively strong search engine with a mouse-over view. If I can get close on my search, I generally don't have to scroll down very far. My system also does auto backlinks, so if I can find the Zettel note thread I'm looking for (either by keyword or another note in the chain), it generally only takes a few seconds to see what I need.

  • In case you're wondering if it's because I only have a few files. :smile:

  • @Steve625 said:
    I only use time IDs with no titles. I do maintain a color-coding system, and Zettel notes are linked by name title to keywords. Having no titles works because my system has a relatively strong search engine with a mouse-over view. If I can get close on my search, I generally don't have to scroll down very far. My system also does auto backlinks, so if I can find the Zettel note thread I'm looking for (either by keyword or another note in the chain), it generally only takes a few seconds to see what I need.

    Thanks so much! I'm truly amazed by how you and others do that. So, question: if you were writing about a subject (let's say "apples"), and you wanted to find some notes among your tens of thousands to back up your theory on apples, how would you do that? Would you keyword search terms that seem like they might get you somewhere relevant, and then hover over the notes that showed up to see what they say? I mean, I guess if your database is that big, titles might not do you much good as it is?

    Just curious about the nitty gritty of the workflow.

  • edited October 22

    @taurusnoises, I just posted an incredibly long rant about my workflow, which if you can bear to read it it is found here: https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/2011/the-zettelkasten-method-nonlinear-zettel-note-format#latest Hint: I would start with my third example, then work backward. I gave up on the traditional Zettel note where everything is pulled under one topic, i.e., Zettel note: Appleโ€”and then, having to search my database, trying to find links to put under the title. Whew, that is a lot of work. My Zettel notes now are nonlinear. Meaning I have a keyword, and under the keyword, I include the UID, for example, [202110210645] Apple - Entry note, etc. Then every time I run across an article about apples, I'd copy the "UID Apple" to the note, make my observations, add another hyperlink if I wanted to continue the thread to the following note. I might make sub connections for things like apple sauce, different types of apples, etc. So when I need to find something, I can start with the first note or "hack" into the thread somewhere along the way and follow it to the message I want. I don't write a lot; my world is more dynamic than that; however, when I follow a thread, I like only to read my notes, make adjustments, look to make sure they are contextually congruent, etc. By following a line, it helps to point out gaps. Overall creating a traditional Zettel note, i.e., Apple and dragging links to it, just felt too much like creating another silo of information.

    p.s. Your response to "in your own words" now sits in my thread on "Reformulations (in your own words)." So thanks for your contributions.

  • @taurusnoises, I have one final thought that probably would have answered your question in a much simpler format. If I don't already have a thread named "apple," there is little reason for me to "search" my database because either I have never been interested in an apple, or it simply hasn't stood out in any of my readings. Yesterday, I dusted off a series of notes I hadn't looked at in years. A company I follow has offered to buy another company outside their area of expertise. I'm excited because now I get to work the thread "Diworsification" into my Zettelkasten and update an old idea with new insight.

  • @Steve625 thanks so much for taking the time to speak to this. I read your workflow post, and I think, despite some differences in how we're describing our set-ups, we're working very similar. (I'm on my phone, so it's not easy to show examples right now, but if that's interesting to you, I can later). Basically, I do the same (or similar) to you re the interior of the note and links: I give context to each link, discuss how the link can pull the note in a new direction or continue the thread I had in mind at the time I wrote the note. Over time other links may be added that take the atomic idea in a different direction by embedding it in a different context than it's original one.

    Which, of course, is the beauty of the whole system. Finding that a note in a new context takes on new life. Something that just can't happen in other systems.

    And, thanks for the kind words about my "own words" post! I'm honored that you'd consider what I wrote note-worthy.

  • On a sidenote, your 9A note isn't universally correct.

    And the others as well, come to think of it.

  • edited November 9

    ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜น ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ A. these aren't nec my own thoughts. B. Feudalist England is your example? ๐Ÿคฃ Cool party....

  • edited November 10

    @taurusnoises said:
    these aren't nec my own thoughts.

    I understand that. I wanted to give some context, that's all.

    B. Feudalist England is your example? ๐Ÿคฃ Cool party....

    I don't understand your question.
    If you want a counter-example, say, to your 09b01, then yes, pre-Victorian England is a good example. It had a very high level of inequality (possibly highest in the world considering how much lower income deciles were pauperized in the process of enclosurement and resettlement while higher income deciles got income from Indian drug trade and other colonial ventures). At the same time it affected the world on par with 3-4 other top countries - on a political scope it's definitely a success.

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