Zettelkasten Forum


How can the ORIGINAL zettelkasten be implemented by a software developer?

Hi,

I checked a lot of content on this topic and everyone seems to have his/her own idea on what a zettelkasten is and that makes things extremely confusing when trying to implement it.

I study a lot of computer science content and want to organise it but I am not sure exactly how many folders I should have(some people say two, some three, some four), for what purpose(fleeting notes, literature notes, permanent notes, hub) and how the notes should be structured and linked.

I apologise if what I wrote above is vague but it's extremely hard for me to phrase it.

Comments

  • I don't wanna sound like a broken record, but have you read the posts from the "Getting Started"? The posts there answer all of your questions and any others you may have.

  • edited March 3

    Thanks for your reply, well that's the issue: I have read it but don't get it.

    Luhmann had two kasten (refrence which was his literature notes and ideas which stored permanent notes based on literature notes and fleeing notes).

    The link above states

    The building blocks of a Zettelkasten are the inbox, the note archive, and the reference manager.

    I am just trying to replicate the ORIGINAL system. :)

  • edited March 3

    @organizer Nice to hear you're interested in exploring the wide world of zettelkasten, and that you have an interest in Luhmann's specific system.

    I think what you're asking is a bit broad at this point. Basically, asking someone to layout an entire pkm system for you. That's probably not gonna happen. If you're looking for a paper-based system, I recommend looking at those articles specifically, and speaking with people who promote that style.

    Otherwise, you might get more leverage out of your questions if you start with specifics:

    • What have you physically implemented so far?
    • What specifically about what you've implemented is confusing you?
    • What have you done to try to correct that?

    Here's a great introduction to asking questions in a forum:
    https://www.theodinproject.com/paths/foundations/courses/foundations/lessons/asking-for-help

    Lots of different articles on asking for help. These are specifically related to asking question about coding/programming, but the principles absolutely apply across the board.

  • edited March 3

    @taurusnoises Thanks for your reply.

    I'm looking to implement the original zettelkasten system but in a digital way by using a markdown application.

    Lets say I start a new zettel on an algorithm I have learned from a book. The zettel will have the format YYYYMMDDHHMMSS-selection-sort.

    I have problems understanding:

    What am I going to put in that note? (Title, tags, idea from the book I have read but in my own words and maybe the title of the book and page?)

    In what folder should I store that note?

    What exactly is a permanent note in Luhmann's vision and how do I build one based on the note above(selection sort).

    Do you link the literature and the permanent note together?

    Again, sorry but this system to me at the moment is overwhelming because so many people remix it.

    Maybe this site is promoting 'linking your thinking' in general and not actually the original method that Luhmann had?

  • edited March 3

    @organizer I can hear your confusion and overwhelm. From what I can gather, I think you're trying to do too much too soon. If you're asking about folders, I can already tell that you need to slow the process down, continue reading and researching, and start small, as I have yet to meet anyone in the ZK world who is making active use of folders.

    "What am I going to put in that note? (Title, tags, idea from the book I have read but in my own words and maybe the title of the book and page?)"

    Basically. Read online the best practices for making zettels, and then read what people have to say about each of these sections you mentioned. That should take some time.

    "In what folder should I store that note?"

    This question doesn't really apply.

    "What exactly is a permanent note in Luhmann's vision and how do I build one based on the note above(selection sort)."

    Luhmann did not call his notes "permanent notes." That was Ahrens' way of distinguishing between jots, what he called "fleeting notes." Continue researching to learn these differences.

    "Do you link the literature and the permanent note together?"

    Do a search in here for recent pieces on fleeting, literature, and permanent notes.

    "Again, sorry but this system to me at the moment is overwhelming because so many people remix it."

    It can be confusing, because there are a number of things written online. But, this is because the system is personal to each person, there is little source material, and the web is the web. My suggestion is to go back before your interest in zettelkasten. What are you wanting to do with your ideas? Zettelkasten is only one way. There is no reason it should be your way.

    "Maybe this site is promoting 'linking your thinking' in general and not actually the original method that Luhmann had?"

    I think you need to read and observe more to know what's what around here.

    Good luck!

  • edited March 4

    If you want to implement the ORIGINAL Zettelkasten, you need to study Luhmann's article and use Sönke Ahrens's book "How to Take Smart Notes" as supplemental material.

    1. Luhmann's article has everything you need to implement his original Zettelkasten. I started with just his article as a foundation and followed it for quite some time (years).
    2. Sönke Ahrens's German book could be read as an extended version of this article. If you resist the urge to [reify](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reification_(knowledge_representation) his terms and just use it as metaphors and tools to understand you'll be fine.

    Just start and go with the flow. My Zettelkasten started as a Zettelkasten about learning the Zettelkasten Method. You'll can't theorise yourself into understanding. You need to actually do it. The ORIGINAL didn't use time-stamps but a nested ID. If you want to combine the time-based ID and the Folgezettel-ID (the nested one) you can look up Backward Compatible IDs by @ZettelDistraction

    So:

    1. Read Luhmann's Article.
    2. Start your Zettelkasten.
    3. Use How to Take Smart Notes as supplemental material
    4. Create real notes and not some fake notes to test your Zettelkasten.
    5. Evaluate and improve.

    Scott Scheper recently became member of this forum. He is very close to what Luhmann did, even regarding the physical implementation.

    Post edited by Sascha on

    I am a Zettler

  • Just to be clear, I think when we talk about 'Luhmann's original article', we mean this: https://luhmann.surge.sh/communicating-with-slip-boxes

    This is what I am basing my own implementation on (with some very helpful insights from this forum and a few YouTubers).

  • @organizer

    It is not clear whether you are trying to create a ZK using existing software or if you are trying to write your own software.

    If the former, I think others have given excellent suggestions. My only "extra" would be to start small and then grow, gaining experience as you go. There is huge amount of information posted on this web site already on how to do that (not being sarcastic, by the way, just saying - you need to put in your own time to understand the ZK system and develop your own preferences).

  • The latest on backward-compatible IDs (as well as user-friendly timestamps) for Zettlr is available at https://github.com/flengyel/Zettel/wiki. The link above is obsolete.

    Erdős #2. ZK software components. “If you’re thinking without writing, you only think you’re thinking.” -- Leslie Lamport. Replies sometimes delayed since life is short.

  • I’d second the advice of @Sascha and also add this resource:

    https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/88f8/fa9dfbc0c2b296758dd932b871917c5c775a.pdf

    This is Johannes Schmidt’s paper. I think it’s the best source to learn Luhmann’s system (Other than browsing Luhmann’s online archive). It’s a bit dry and academic but very very good.

    My YouTube channel also may be of service: https://youtube.com/user/scottscheper

    Scott P. Scheper
    Website | Twitter | Reddit | YouTube

  • @ZettelDistraction said:
    The latest on backward-compatible IDs (as well as user-friendly timestamps) for Zettlr is available at https://github.com/flengyel/Zettel/wiki. The link above is obsolete.

    Changed it in the post and on the /Folgezettel on the mainpage.

    I am a Zettler

  • @organizer said:
    Hi,

    I checked a lot of content on this topic and everyone seems to have his/her own idea on what a zettelkasten is and that makes things extremely confusing when trying to implement it.

    I study a lot of computer science content and want to organise it but I am not sure exactly how many folders I should have(some people say two, some three, some four), for what purpose (fleeting notes, literature notes, permanent notes, hub) and how the notes should be structured and linked.

    I can appreciate that it can be confusing, and I've been trying to disentangle the whole idea. But really, you need to start with what you want to accomplish.

    Yes, you can try to implement the original, but at heart, you want to use the original as inspiration to accomplish your goals.

    Here are some of my thoughts about what a ZK really is. Luhmann had a specific implementation and he talked about the designed characteristics, and the emergent characteristics, and I've tried to understand what he meant, and how I can accomplish the same, but using modern tools.

    Some of my thoughts are here, in my weirdo thinking charting thing:

    https://www.solipsys.co.uk/cgi-bin/DiscDAG.py?DiscussionID=ZettelKasten&ShowNeighbourhood=True&SelectOnly=N_20200417173614a_ColinWright

    You can see the whole chart here:

    https://www.solipsys.co.uk/cgi-bin/DiscDAG.py?DiscussionID=ZettelKasten&ShowNeighbourhood=False&SelectOnly=N_20200417163513a_ColinWright

    You can try clicking around on that to see if you can figure out how it works, but the content might be of interest to you.

  • @RiderOfGiraffes said:
    Some of my thoughts are here, in my weirdo thinking charting thing:

    https://www.solipsys.co.uk/cgi-bin/DiscDAG.py?DiscussionID=ZettelKasten&ShowNeighbourhood=True&SelectOnly=N_20200417173614a_ColinWright

    You can see the whole chart here:

    https://www.solipsys.co.uk/cgi-bin/DiscDAG.py?DiscussionID=ZettelKasten&ShowNeighbourhood=False&SelectOnly=N_20200417163513a_ColinWright

    You can try clicking around on that to see if you can figure out how it works, but the content might be of interest to you.

    This is very well done. The directed acyclic diagrams of "discussions" remind me of argument maps. I suppose the intention is to avoid interminably looping discussions.

    Erdős #2. ZK software components. “If you’re thinking without writing, you only think you’re thinking.” -- Leslie Lamport. Replies sometimes delayed since life is short.

  • @RiderOfGiraffes said:
    Some of my thoughts are here, in my weirdo thinking charting thing:

    @ZettelDistraction said:
    This is very well done. The directed acyclic diagrams of "discussions" remind me of argument maps. I suppose the intention is to avoid interminably looping discussions.

    The intent is to allow people to reply to individual points without having to quote endlessly, and to have previous points clearly visible with answers that both support and refute.

    I'm not explicitly familiar with "argument maps", but based on the name, this is a "discussion map", created in real-time.

    I'm looking to add the facility to "collapse" sections that are properly and accurately summarised, allowing the chart to be distilled. In my mind it's very closely related to ZK thinking ... create a web of connected thoughts.

  • edited March 27

    @organizer said:
    @taurusnoises Thanks for your reply.

    I'm looking to implement the original zettelkasten system but in a digital way by using a markdown application.

    I have problems understanding:

    >

    Do you link the literature and the permanent note together?

    I to find it confusing at times. Everyone has their own method it seems.

    I do t think there is anything wrong with replicating the original as a start point.

    It can get confusing when having references.
    I too wonder if luhman ever linked a “permanent” note to a “literature“ note. And then having a citation in a permanent note to a book. Yes confusing.

    Also if you follow the fleeting, literature and permanent note folder structure in obsidian or zettlr and you want to link a perm at not to another permanent note the algorithm brings up the other folder contents (fleeting and literature) and that is messy. I am not sure if you can configure to only search the “permanent” note folder when it comes to linking.

    @organizer have the Option in your program to allow the user which folder can be configured for linking Because why would I want my “fleeting” and or “literature” notes to come up.

    So if you follow this model

    Parent folder
    - Fleeting folder
    - Literature folder
    - Permanent folder

    where fleeting and literature notes are to develop your ideas and the permanent note folder is the end product of the idea written, then you may not or don’t want to Link any permanent note to “draft” notes like “fleeting” or “literature” notes and currently obsidian and zettlr brings all of the contents of fleeting and literature

  • edited March 28

    @scottscheper said:
    I’d second the advice of @Sascha and also add this resource:

    https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/88f8/fa9dfbc0c2b296758dd932b871917c5c775a.pdf

    This is Johannes Schmidt’s paper. I think it’s the best source to learn Luhmann’s system (Other than browsing Luhmann’s online archive). It’s a bit dry and academic but very very good.

    My YouTube channel also may be of service: https://youtube.com/user/scottscheper

    Wow. I’ll check out your literature note video. This is great.

    Actually was more stuck on setting up the functional aspect of the system digitally rather than the concepts of note taking.

    Let’s just say I was stuck on the Architecture of the system

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