Luhmann’s Main Note to Literature Note Ratio
edited March 2022 in Research & Reading
One thing I realized today from reading Johannes Schmidt’s paper1 is this:
In Luhmann’s second ZK:
- Luhmann had 67,000 Main Notes (aka, Permanent Notes)
- And he had 15,000 Literature Notecards in his bibliography (usually with about 10-15 bullet points of thoughts and page numbers per book or article he read).
This means for each book or article he read, he only creates on average 4 to 5 main notes.
The other bullet points (like the other 10 bullet points) he would just make references to the book and page numbers.
He would go to a card about Ideology for instance and write “For more on Ideology, see Williamson p. 256” for instance.
I think there’s an assumption out there that one ought develop every bullet point literature note they take.
Any thoughts on this?
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I think the mean obscures the picture.
If I'd take literature notes the ratio would vary from 1:20 to even 20:1. It totally depends on the nature of the text.
I am a Zettler
Where did this idea of "ought" come from?
Luhmann's or your's or anyone else's ratio of notes to zettel is unimportant. It is mine that is my focus.
The notes I take while reading a book vary in number, and later when I refactor them into my ZK, they'll be stirred and mixed in various ways. Some notes will be seen as frivolous in hindsight. This is the power of taking notes, waiting a little time, then refactoring into the ZK.
A different number of notes from rereading books results in a different refactoring ratio.
Sometimes I'll use the same structure note as a framework to hang the second or third reading on. Sometimes the mood muse will cuddle up, and I'll start fresh in a new structure note.
Determining a ratio of notes to zettel is so variable as to be meaningless. There are times when a book results in copious notes but few or no zettel, and times when every note I've taken while reading becomes a zettel. There is no way to tell in advance.
The quality of our thinking is directly proportional to the quality of our reading. To think better, we must read better. - Rohan
Sönke Ahrens. I’m typing on my phone and don’t have the reference in front of me; it was along the lines that after Luhmann is done reading he figures out how to convert them to Permanent Notes inside the Zettelkasten.
Ahrens is vague (as is much of his book). He doesn’t specify if each one should be converted into Permanent Notes, though he makes it seem that way.
In reality Luhmann made many Rumination References. (“For more on Ideology, See Wilson 2014, p. 22”) without actually processing it into a full Permanent Note.
Scott P. Scheper
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