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How Value is Created in a Zettelkasten (and Any System of Knowledge Work)


imageHow Value is Created in a Zettelkasten (and Any System of Knowledge Work)

A Zettelkasten is a personal tool for thinking and writing that creates an interconnected web of thought. Its emphasis is on connection and not mere collection of ideas.

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Comments

  • Solid article @sfast! I think the idea of adding value in the form of "resources for your future self" is a great cue for crafting notes and systems.

    And I do mean "cue" in the weightlifting sense of course, where it's a super-dense piece of information geared at producing a specific result within a much larger, more complex context.

  • edited August 28

    I just finished (coincidentally) posting something that relates to the topic of this thread - discussing how I think we create value in terms of serendipity in our ZK. My thesis is about half way down this post:

    https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/comment/16365#Comment_16365

  • This was a great post. Lots to digest. One seemingly minor point stood out to me.

    If you have an excerpt collection, you need to pre-filter this collection to find the idea. And even then you could have chosen a different incarnation of the idea if two or more authors have written about this idea. But by creating atomic notes that cover one idea per note you now have created your incarnation of the idea which is hopefully the best you can get.

    I know this is a major problem for me. If I come across an interesting idea, my note often doesn't extract it from the source. It stays tied too closely to the context. After reading this I went hunting for an example. I found the following notes on the following topics.

    • As parents we should be focused on the individual moments with our children, not on the final goal of the activity
    • The Bhagavad Gita tells us that we are not entitled to the fruits of our labor
    • Delaying gratification is as problematic as instant gratification. Our focus should be beyond gratification itself
    • Our goal should not be the focus, but a guide

    I also found a note that predates the above notes simply titled "Focus on the process." I believe it captured the underlying idea of the other notes, but it was not linked to any of the other notes. I have fixed that now and will hopefully keep this idea in mind when processing in the future.

  • @boxcariii said:

    If you have an excerpt collection, you need to pre-filter this collection to find the idea. And even then you could have chosen a different incarnation of the idea if two or more authors have written about this idea. But by creating atomic notes that cover one idea per note you now have created your incarnation of the idea which is hopefully the best you can get.

    I know this is a major problem for me. If I come across an interesting idea, my note often doesn't extract it from the source. It stays tied too closely to the context.

    The best way of thinking (or: thinking tool) known to me in that such cases is to ask oneself what the tools and models in your Zettelkasten are that can benefit from an idea.

    Your examples would lead to the following steps when I'd attack the problem:

    1. Extract out the general pattern in a single note and use the already existing notes as source material.
    2. In that case, I'd use bi-directional linking since the sourcing of the note generated in step 1 should be transparent to my future self. But I also want to instruct my future self to be reminded of the older notes being bread crumbs to a more general idea. (Of course: Make the connection explicit on the notes!)
    3. Now I've created a structure that gives my future self a thought out way to navigate the structure (which is an important presupposition for the pressure loading mechanism of the Zettelkasten (as a Thinking Tool) -> Don't ask. There will be an article on that). Then I'd search my Zettelkasten for structures that can benefit from this structure.
    4. In my Zettelkasten, an example would be an application to designing a long-term trainingplan. (the importance of putting up a sustainable system first and then judging what goals are even realistic) This would be part of my instructions for clients.

    I am a Zettler

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