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Figuring out ontological tags [German Zettel Alert!]

I am trying to figure out how to identify ontological tags. @sfast suggested to post my Zettel for open discussion, so here we are.

# Geistige Arbeit ist meist nur gerichtet, nicht gezielt

Tätigkeiten in komplexen Kontexten sind nicht vollständig planbar, da man nicht mit Sicherheit vorhersagen kann, was passieren wird. Entsprechend ist es nur bedingt sinnvoll, Ziele zu setzen. Es gibt Tendenzen, die man nutzen kann; Richtungen, die man einschlagen kann.

In der geistigen Arbeit sind es oftmals die unvorhergesehenen Abzweige, die Erkenntnis schaffen und so zum eigentlichen Ziel werden. [@ahrensZettelkastenPrinzipErfolgreichWissenschaftlich2017]

Plane und setz dir ruhig Ziele, aber passe diese an die Entwicklung der Gegebenheiten an. [@sertillangesLebenGeistesSein1951, 119]

Vergleiche mit der "millitärischen Mission" in [@dozReflectionsLeadershipComplexity2017, 9]

When I try to identify key terms sentence by sentence, I come up with the following list:

  • geistige-arbeit
  • planung
  • komplexität
  • zielsetzung
  • erkenntnis
  • richtung

Regardless of the general usefulness (or uselessness) of tags, is this a sensible approach or am I missing something?
I am happy for any other feedback on this Zettel as well, of course.


  • edited April 2022

    I am not sure how to tackle mixed languages. So, here comes my Denglish (Germlish for the English speaking):


    • You created the title by a claim of difference. This creates a triangle of a, b and the difference. A more concise title would be to focus on what a is and push what a is not to the periphery.
    • Your titel does not reflect the content of the note. You make a strong claim but the title is weak ("meist").

    Title recommendation: "Komplexe geistige Arbeit ist nicht zielgeleitet planbar" (Complex mental work is not planable by goal setting)

    The content as I see it revolves around goal setting and complex mental work.


    The content of the note doesn't have any structure but concerns itself with a number of individual thoughts:

    1. A claim on the nature of "geistige Arbeit" (mental work). But it is not explicit. You write "Tätigkeiten in komplexen Kontexten" (work in complex contexts) which is something very different from mental work. (Easy fix: "Ist geistige Arbeit hinreichend komplex, ist sie nicht mehr vollständig planbar. (vgl. [202204061213] zur Begründung von Unplanbarkeit in komplexen Tätigkeiten)"
    2. An incomplete argument that is based on the claim (there is no argument structure but one premise followed by the conclusion with the mere statement that one is implicated)
    3. A claim on how new knowledge emerges. There is an implicit value judgement: The sum of benefits and downsides of not having goals outways sum of benefits and downsides of having one.
    4. A recommendation which can be only implicitly based on the above since there is no explicit in- or deduction.

    Content recommendation: Divide the thoughts into individual atomic notes. Then create a molecule note on wich you connect each thought.


    This kind of link "Vergleiche mit der 'millitärischen Mission'" is a bad habit because it does not establish how those toughts are connected but just establish a note connection. I pretty confident that you were conscious of the nature of the thought connection at the time of creating this link.

    Link Recommendation: "Militärische Missionen finden ebenfalls in komplexen Kontexten statt, die sich der zielgeleiteten Planung entziehen.[[202204061219]]"


    I will comment on each tag. I will assume that title is the primary indicator of the content of the note. But as seen above I see more than one thought and the need for separation.

    • geistige-arbeit (mental work). This is an actual object of the content as indicated by the title
    • planung (planing). The note does not concerns itself with planing but with a specific aspect of planing. The actual object is "goal setting" not planing per se.
    • komplexität (complexity). This note is not about complexity nor does the note use complexity more than just as descriptor of a situation. The note is about a type of work that is complex not about complexity as the abstract concept that it is.
    • zielsetzung (goal setting). Actual object used.
    • erkenntnis (knowledge). Does not belong in this note. "Erkenntnis" (knowledge) would be the wrong concept regarding the claim how knew knowledge emerges. In German, "Erkenntnis" has a very broad meaning ranging from very abstract to the very concrete. I think a better tag would be "Einsicht". (I can't translate this intricacy..)
    • richtung (direction). The note is not about direction. I think "richtung" (direction) wouldn't even be a good tag for the relevant part of the content. This part of the note "Entsprechend ist es nur bedingt sinnvoll, Ziele zu setzen. Es gibt Tendenzen, die man nutzen kann; Richtungen, die man einschlagen kann." is so underdeveloped that tagging it is not yet feasable. My recommendation is to develop the content to the point of separation of though and elimination of implications.

    So: Candidates for object tags: "Zielsetzung (goal setting)" and "geistige Arbeit" (mental work)

    It is fine to have such underdeveloped notes in the ZK since practically we cannot develop all the notes fully all the time. Live happens, interests shift, some notes are not that important etc.

    But it shows how dependent good practices are on the sufficient developed thought. My suspicion is that you have difficulties with the tags in part because the content is not fully developed. So you can't make use of precise tagging. The alternative (imprecise) tagging however will become usefless the more you use it. So, this is not a feasable long-term strategy.

    It also shows that big part of the difficulties that are asigned to infamiliarity with the ZKM stem from the actual development of the thought at hand.

    I think the note as great potential and the seeds just need some watering. Please consider that I am a blunt person who writes even more bluntly than he speaks. All my critique comes with love.

    Post edited by Sascha on

    I am a Zettler

  • Thanks a lot for the feedback @Sascha . No need to worry about bluntness, it is very matter-of-factly, I appreciate that.

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