Zettelkasten Forum


Atomicity & connecting notes

Hi all,

Quick question re: atomicity of notes and maintaining the flexibility and mutability that comes with sticking to one idea per note — while also making the most of the many possible connections a note could have.

How do you think about adding in links to other notes (each of which requires some elaboration/explanation for why they've been linked to/mentioned in the current note) without making the note now be "about" more than one thing?

Do you see the additional text explaining the inclusion of a linked note as 'not counting' towards the main concept of the note? Do you put the connections and links under a References header to separate in into different types of content?

The image below is an example of a note where I feel like I've managed to maintain the singular point of the note (what the concept of "in process" notes is in my system) fairly well but I can also see how paragraphs 2 and 3 could be seen as separate ideas to the main idea of the note. In that case, wouldn't it make sense to have that text appear as bullets under the Reference header?

I know there's no one way to use a zettelkasten but your thoughts on the way of thinking about atomicity when linking would be helpful.

Ta!

Comments

  • Another example to illustrate the point:

    I just created this zettel now and I can already see different directions it could go in.

    Already I've added a link to a note about creating a product ecosystem and I can see how it could also be worth linking to pieces around validating product ideas, go-to-market approaches and profitability.

    Would you add those ideas into the body of the note as links to other notes and have this zettel turn into a jumping-off point to 5 or more different notes on totally different topics? Or would it make more sense to just list them under References as "see also/related"?

    Just wanting to see if my thinking is on the generally right track in terms of getting most value out of linking.

  • edited April 20

    In you first example I'd recommend creating a third note connecting the first two and explaining the reason for connection.

    In the second example, because you are anticipating 5 more notes relative to this idea, I'd suggest a structure note. Kind of an annotated TOC.

    Not all links require an explanation. Some are intuitively clear based on your level of understanding about the idea.

    Structure notes show how zettel relate to each other. My workflow is to put every note on a structure note. The structure note is one of the contexts of the note, an important one. When reviewing a note and I hit on its structure note, I see how I visualized its context and have other zettel listed in the structure note with which I can wander and wonder.

    This is a sample of part (about 30%) of one of my structure notes.

    This video was my first and it shows a couple of structure notes and how I navigate through them.

    ———
    Reference
    Zettelkasten Method: How to Take Smart Notes (A Beginner's Guide)

    Post edited by Will on

    Will Simpson
    “Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”
    kestrelcreek.com

  • Thanks for the video, @Will. The navigation looks cool and useful. Could you please share the KM macro? I was unable to locate it in the forum.

    --Abhijit

  • edited April 21

    Hi, Abhijit, here is the link to the earlier thread with a link to the Keyboard Maestro macro.

    https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/1718/toc-navigate-headers

    Will Simpson
    “Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”
    kestrelcreek.com

  • Worked like a charm! Beauty resides in simplicity :smile:

  • edited April 21

    Really cool video @Will Even though I'm an Antinetter it's really cool to see how you work with your notes and the structure notes. I learned a lot from it. Nice to be a part of a diverse community (even though I have a different preference-i.e. analog).

    Scott P. Scheper
    Website | Twitter | Reddit | YouTube

  • Thanks for those ideas @Will — very helpful to see your flow in practice in the video as well.

    Re: structure notes, you said "My workflow is to put every note on a structure note. " Do you literally add every note in your zettelkasten to a structure note? Presumably you could end up with a single note being added to multiple structure notes?

  • @jameslongley said:
    " Do you literally add every note in your zettelkasten to a structure note?

    NO! I don't do anything "literally" to "every note." My note-taking skills are in their infancy with my proficiency and follow through are variable. Honestly, I'm lazy and alway looking for ways to add shortcuts and streamline my work. In the last year or so, I've consciously been thinking about structure notes. It took a critical mass of notes before I saw the value.

    My workflow is such that I keep zettel corralled in a "#proofing" yard as I work on them. Part of the "work" is considering which structure notes to hang this zettel on. Sometimes I forget to do this and have modified my templates with a prompt to look at structure notes. Sometimes I find a note doesn't warrant a link on a structure note, such as a code snippet. I can find the code snippet I'm looking for with a search. I have a lot of code snippets (74), and I used to maintain a structure note for them, but it became too onerous a task. So I remove the friction.

    Presumably you could end up with a single note being added to multiple structure notes?

    "A single note being added to multiple structure notes" connects new knowledge to established knowledge. If there is one overarching goal of the ZKM™, note-taking, learning, and life in general, it is this connecting of new and established ideas. I'd consider a note hung on a few structure notes proportionally more interesting than one not hung on a structure note.

    Will Simpson
    “Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”
    kestrelcreek.com

Sign In or Register to comment.