# Why use direct links when Structure Notes are so great?

I've seen advice here that says every note needs to be linked to at least two other notes. I followed this advice and got a bunch of feedback loops and not a lot of structure. I started giving myself permission to use Structure Notes as much as I want, and I find these structure notes to be much more helpful than direct links from one note to the next.

If I have a stream of thought that spans 10 notes, I find it easier to back to the structure note to click through each note than to do a whole bunch of to/from links in each note.

Anybody else experience this? Anything I'm missing out by not linking directly?

• I often start the title of my notes with a question. When i communicate with the slipbox, it's not that I'm trying to see all the notes related to that topic but by raising questions, searching for it, then making links, I enhance my understanding. Hence i don't need a structure for my notes like textbook. For me, it's the process of linking that makes real understanding.

• @tree_t said:
I often start the title of my notes with a question. When i communicate with the slipbox, it's not that I'm trying to see all the notes related to that topic but by raising questions, searching for it, then making links, I enhance my understanding. Hence i don't need a structure for my notes like textbook. For me, it's the process of linking that makes real understanding.

Good food for thought, thank you!

• @joegilder said:
I've seen advice here that says every note needs to be linked to at least two other notes.

I let ideas spread and connect organically. I try and hang every note off of a structure note, but sometimes I forget or am distracted (code for lazy). Sometimes I'm a lot lazy!

I love opportunities to take a quantitative look at my zettelkasten.

375 zettel with 0 links.


Almost half my zettelkasten have one or zero links. That said, I have at least 10 structure notes with 27 or more links on them. I have a structure note with 39 links on it, and it has 72 inbound links. B-Quintessential Dzogchen [[201901301240]]

There are a couple of reasons for making links.

1. Links to structure notes help organize ideas together from different idea streams. Books, articles, spontaneous ideas that arrive unbidden from the universe are different streams. Each might have ideas about how quantum physics is related to conversation and would want to gather together in the G-Science Hub 202106230622 structure note. As this section grows, it will be refactored into its own structure note, Quantum Conversation.
2. Note-to-note links can do something similar, and they are essential for clarifying ideas, rounding out your thought process around a particular idea.

If I have a stream of thought that spans 10 notes, I find it easier to back to the structure note to click through each note than to do a whole bunch of to/from links in each note.

Note-to-note links are what form the streams of thought. Following them in the order created recreates the thought idea stream. This can be accomplished with a structure note but requires diligence.

The structure note is for review, summarizing ideas, research later, collecting, and bringing together different thought streams.

Note-to-note links force testing of ideas, trigger an investigation, spark questions, compare and contrast, and work on the embryo of the idea.

Different time scales make each valuable. In the initial phase, I'd lean on the note-to-note link, and afterward, as time progresses and the structure note grows connecting various thought streams, the structure note shines.

All good zettelkasting software brings all the connected notes together in a note-list, making structure notes a tool for thought on a longer time scale.

Both types of links can pierce into the core of ideas or just be fluff. You have to honestly apply yourself to make each link count.

Will Simpson
I'm a futzing, second-guessing, backtracking, compulsive oversharing, ZK-maniac, in other words, your typical zettelnant.
Research areas: Attention Horizon, Productive Procrastination, Dzogchen, Non-fiction Creative Writing, Cognitive Workload, Python, Data Science
kestrelcreek.com

• Structure notes, well, they add structure. But if you have tangentially related subjects, you could (I'm exaggerating to make a point of course): (1) add a super structure that encompasses both of the existing subject structures if all you do is top-down navigation; or (2) create cross-links on the "lower" content levels.

(I get inter-department cross-pollination not from departments as remote as ancient Greek philosophy and electrical impedance, I don't think, but sub-departments of the larger "tech" part of my ZK.)

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

• The structure note is for review, summarizing ideas, research later, collecting, and bringing together different thought streams.

Note-to-note links force testing of ideas, trigger an investigation, spark questions, compare and contrast, and work on the embryo of the idea.

Different time scales make each valuable. In the initial phase, I'd lean on the note-to-note link, and afterward, as time progresses and the structure note grows connecting various thought streams, the structure note shines.

You're always so thoughtful and helpful. Thanks @Will

• edited November 8

Better to Folgezettel in Hell, than Structure Note in Heav'n!

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

• @ZettelDistraction said:

Better to Folgezettel in Hell, than Structure Note in Heav'n!

Explain it to me like I'm 5.

• edited November 15

@joegilder said:

@ZettelDistraction said:

Better to Folgezettel in Hell, than Structure Note in Heav'n!

Explain it to me like I'm 5.

Despite my protestations, I haven't been using Folgezettel, but I've been resisting structure notes as much as possible. My preference is "Think globally, link locally." Meaning that my Zettels link to "related neighbors" somewhat like the Folgezettel IDs Luhmann used, which indicate either the continuation of a prior Zettel, a comment on or question about a prior Zettel, or a new topic.

To approximate this with timestamp IDs, my Zettel format (below) includes RELATED Zettels, which are IDs of predecessor (and possibly successor) Zettels that this Zettel either directly continues, or comments on an aspect of, etc.

# # timestampID Title

RELATED: [[anID1]] Title1, [[anID2]] Title2

The body (possibly with other links). The body of a Zettel supposedly consists of a single "unit of thought," though there is no standard unit of thought maintained at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Bureau international des poids et mesures, the Imperial German Standards Office, or elsewhere, to my knowledge.

# References

(if any)

Post edited by ZettelDistraction on

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

• @joegilder said:
Explain it to me like I'm 5.

Take 2. This is the Zettel format I've settled on. 20210424152745 Zettel format: rule of threes

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