Zettelkasten Forum


A question about Luhmann's IDs

According to my understanding of Luhmann's ID system, he labeled his notes consecutively starting at one:

  1. First note
  2. Second note

Then, if Luhmann wanted to insert a note in the system, he'd append a letter running from "a":

  1. First note
    1a. Third note
  2. Second note

Now, what happens, if Luhmann wanted to insert another new note between note 1 and 1a? I'm assuming I have misunderstood how his system works, but I can't see what label the new note can be given as there's nothing that can now come before "1a". Can anyone clarify?

Post edited by GraemeWeston on

Comments

  • Could you create a use case?

    I am a Zettler

  • edited April 1

    >

    Now, what happens, if Luhmann wanted to insert another new note between note 1 and 1a? I'm assuming I have misunderstood how his system works, but I can't see what label the new note can be given as there's nothing that can now come before "1a". Can anyone clarify?

    He couldn't assign an ID between 1 and 1a to another note because there isn't such an ID. The only way that Luhmann could insert a note "between" 1 and 1a would be to refer (link) to it from note 1 and from it to 1a. Limitations like these led some us to explore alternative numbering schemes, such as https://github.com/flengyel/Zettel/wiki/0.1.0.22.0305.1829-ID-Format

    Erdös #2. ZK software components.~~~~ “If you’re thinking without writing, you only think you’re thinking.” -- Leslie Lamport.

  • @ZettelDistraction Thank you, it's comforting to know I didn’t misunderstand Luhmann's ID system!

  • @sfast In this instance I was thinking abstractly. But, more generally, I am looking for an indexing system that would allow me structure notes linearly and insert notes at any point without having to re-index any other note. This may included repeatedly inserting notes after the first note, or even before the first note. It seems, due to the problem identified in my original post, Luhmann's system isn't what I'm looking for. That's no issue, of course, as there are other indexing systems that I can adopt that do allow for this.

  • @GraemeWeston You could go with time-based IDs and rely on the linking system to achieve what you want. What is the reason you're looking for numbering systems to do that instead?

  • @GraemeWeston I had the same question as @Annabella. Keep in mind that I am a person who is pretty indifferent to how one numbers one’s zettels, as long as the system results in unique numbers for each zettel. Others on the forum find that using a particular system matches their workflow better, which is perhaps true for you?

  • edited April 1

    @GraemeWeston If I'm not mistaken, the idea wasn't so much to create an ordered sequence as if it were a table of logical contents, but to put related notes together. So in this situation if you had another idea that was related to note 1, you would put it as 1b. If it was an idea that was directly related to or a follow up to note 1a, you'd make it 1a1. In the situations where an idea has multiple contexts (e.g. it relates to many notes), you'd put it anywhere and then create links pointing to it in other notes.

    Poking around in an example note thread often helps clarify this (make sure to have your browsers auto translate on).

  • edited April 1

    This video explains how it works:

    Let me know if you have any questions!

    Scott P. Scheper
    Website | Twitter | Reddit | YouTube

  • @GraemeWeston

    I'm reading the chapter on Niklas' Zettelkasten from Forgetting Machines edited by Alberto Cevolini. An argument that one of the writers made reminded me of your post. The argument was that Niklas started a second Zettelkasten probably because they needed to bring a top-level Folgezettel structure that would fit into their new interest. You can tell because Niklas' first Zettelkasten was about completely different things in comparison to the second. Also, they're organized differently Folgezettel-wise.

    I think that the Luhmann-ID might not be what you want. What if, later on in your journey, you decide that the current top-level Folgezettel structure doesn't fit your interests? You'll have to re-index everything, which would be time-consuming, or make a second Zettelkasten. If you choose the latter, you can then ignore the first Zettelkasten, as Niklas mostly did, or not but that would be time-consuming too.

  • edited April 2

    Luhmann's second Zettelkasten was "divided into eleven top-level sections with a total of about 100 subsections...", whereas the first Zettelkasten was "...divided into 108 sections by subjects and numbered consecutively." Niklas Luhmann’s Card Index: The Fabrication of Serendipity My ZK has 10 top-level sections, reflecting my research and writing interests, and those are concentrated in one or two sections, if you don't count my interminable droning monotone "contributions" here, some of which are included there, after cutting.

    What I've found is that the Folgezettel (the way I've adapted them) do what Niklas Luhmann said they do: as you go further along a sequence, depending on the subject, the notes can diverge from the initial top-level entry point and could end up under another one. The top-level entry points are listed in order in what I called an index, but I suppose it should be called a table of contents. It's a structure note.

    @sfast said:

    • One value created by structure notes for example is to create a thinking canvas. Another would be as an entry point (which makes the index obsolete).

    My "index" (really a ToC) is a structure note with entry points to the top-level categories represented by notes that serve as a destination for "backlinks." Loading a top-level category note in Zettlr and enabling the "Related files" pane will list the notes that link to the category.

    Post edited by ZettelDistraction on

    Erdös #2. ZK software components.~~~~ “If you’re thinking without writing, you only think you’re thinking.” -- Leslie Lamport.

  • @Annabella said:
    @GraemeWeston

    I'm reading the chapter on Niklas' Zettelkasten from Forgetting Machines edited by Alberto Cevolini. An argument that one of the writers made reminded me of your post. The argument was that Niklas started a second Zettelkasten probably because they needed to bring a top-level Folgezettel structure that would fit into their new interest. You can tell because Niklas' first Zettelkasten was about completely different things in comparison to the second. Also, they're organized differently Folgezettel-wise.

    I think that the Luhmann-ID might not be what you want. What if, later on in your journey, you decide that the current top-level Folgezettel structure doesn't fit your interests? You'll have to re-index everything, which would be time-consuming, or make a second Zettelkasten. If you choose the latter, you can then ignore the first Zettelkasten, as Niklas mostly did, or not but that would be time-consuming too.

    Strike that. Niklas wasn't about categories. I should've finished reading before commenting. It won't happen again.

  • edited April 6

    @Annabella said:

    @Annabella said:
    @GraemeWeston

    I'm reading the chapter on Niklas' Zettelkasten from Forgetting Machines edited by Alberto Cevolini. An argument that one of the writers made reminded me of your post. The argument was that Niklas started a second Zettelkasten probably because they needed to bring a top-level Folgezettel structure that would fit into their new interest. You can tell because Niklas' first Zettelkasten was about completely different things in comparison to the second. Also, they're organized differently Folgezettel-wise.

    I think that the Luhmann-ID might not be what you want. What if, later on in your journey, you decide that the current top-level Folgezettel structure doesn't fit your interests? You'll have to re-index everything, which would be time-consuming, or make a second Zettelkasten. If you choose the latter, you can then ignore the first Zettelkasten, as Niklas mostly did, or not but that would be time-consuming too.

    Strike that. Niklas wasn't about categories. I should've finished reading before commenting. It won't happen again.

    Luhmann created what Pinker would call fuzzy categories. They were rough starting points from which ideas could evolve in any direction. They are not strict or all-encompassing like the Dewey Decimal System.

    In essence, Luhmann created fuzzy categories to begin his Zettelkasten systems (at least his second one; his first one evolved over time). Yet the system self-organized itself due to numeric-alpha addresses and the tree structure. Luhmann initially organized by categories, yet the system organized itself through its self-referential addresses.

    This is one of the reasons I use the academic disciplinary fields for my Zettelkasten. It's all-encompassing. It can evolve in any direction. I don't need to create a second ZK, as a specific project or focus is just a branch or set of branches.

    Scott P. Scheper
    Website | Twitter | Reddit | YouTube

  • @scottscheper Thanks for your clear explanation. That's also part of what the chapter was going for, but I didn't make it that far when I wrote my post.

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