A condensed version of Sascha's intro

edited October 31

Hi. Here is yunpeng! I am new to Zettelkasten Method and just finish reading the intro written by Sascha. It is really awesome and concrete. However, I think some parts of it are duplicate. I combine Sascha's intro and my own understanding to write a condensed version of his/her intro. Any advice is welcomed!

1. What

Zettelkasten contains many atom thoughts and this method chains each thought together by their unique addresses. This web of thoughts makes it convenient to visit from one thought to another.

Thus, this method underlines the connection between different knowledge. On the contrary, stacking notes linearly just leads to a bloated mess over time. This non-linear organization just allows our mind to scale with the number of thoughts (organic growth) and still remain clear, thus can tackle numerous complicated problems.

2. How

A zettel is the minimum part of the Zettelkasten. This section is going to introduce how to construct a zettel, connect to other zetterls and use these zetterls to make a difference.

2.1 Zettel

A zettel is composed of three parts: unique identifier, body and references.

2.11 Unique Identifier

The only requirement for the identifier is unique. Because it represents one single note. There are many formats of identifier.

1. Lumann-ID. It consists of numbers and alphabets (1a1, 2b4, 3d). This formatting just shows hierarchy naturally.

1. Time-based ID. A sample time-based ID would be: 202006110955. Year 2020, 11th of June, 9 am and 55 minutes.
2. Arbitrary string. It can be title of your zettle or the citekey of one paper (e.g. Devlin_2022_BERT)

2.12 Body

The body is just one atom thought and its extension. That's it.

First, let us clarify the meaning of atom thoughts. As we all know, atom is the minimum component of molecular. By adding the prefix atom, we just emphasize that the content in every zettle should be an independent and smallest principle (or knowledge) instead of some kind of mixture. Thus, they should be clear and precise. In the figure above, we just put one single argument: Being good at something is not enough to be an innovator.

Note that the atoms are based on the molecular you choose.

Then what do you mean when mention the extension? For instance, "water is flowing" is an argument or a fact. It is static. However, if you say "water is flowing by leaves, flowers and then down with them", this can be an extension of the fact. You are describing the details depending on your understanding. This is dynamic.

Thus, the fact or argument is just information. If you do not extend them with your own interesting observation, information just means the same thing to everyone. However, if using your own words and understanding to extend them, you are turning information to knowledge.

Also, there are other reasons for you to describe and extend the arguments. The understanding can just slip away. When you revisit this argument, you may feel numb to it and fail to find something useful. The deepest understanding lies in the first sight. You can relate this to the film "Memento". Just imagine you are going to lose memory at the near future. The description at this moment is just used to remind you at the future to think of this knowledge.

However, if writing the notes within the confines of your deadline, you are sure whether this piece of knowledge can be relevant to another in the future. You may skip or write little notes.

When trying to extend the information or relate it to other knowledge, we may be procrastinate about the current project. There can be some deviation. As a rule of thumb, stick to the path towards the destination while allow yourself to see flowers near the road. In other words, you need to compromise between taking broad notes and focusing on your project.

Sometimes, these seeming not relevant to the current project can contribute to your future project in an unexpected way.

For instance, if you just want to buy concert tickets from scalpers, figuring out the prices, the formats of tickets and so on are your priority. However, if permitting your mind to be loose, you may also wonder how this market chain works, how to snap up tickets automatically and how to cooperate with the scalpers to make money etc. By the end, you even can be a small master of this field.

2.13 References

At the end of a zettel, you may need to add references if you borrow knowledge from others. Just like scientific manuscripts, you can add a citation and its corresponding reference. If you find some knowledge appears in other zettels, you can also relate this zettel to them by double links (e.g. [[201910091746]]).

2.2 Structure Notes

Assume you have created many zettels and connect them to each other properly, there is a severe problem that how you can find all the relevant knowledge in just one search. There are mainly two different situations to consider.

2.21 Name Identifiers Hierarchically

You are just making notes about one particular project and other zettels except this theme are not related to the project. This situation is pretty simple. You can solve the search problem by naming identifiers hierarchically. For instance, when you are looking at the zettel 3b2, you absolutely know that there are also 3a1, 3a2, ......, 3b1 which are relevant to the current zettel.

2.22 Hub Notes

However, when you need to explore among many zettels of different themes, naming just does not work. In other words, you need to index those themes. The indexes of different theme zettels are called entry points.

Just like the figure below, a hub is also called zettel. However, a hub does not contain concrete information. It is just about one topic and possible zettels related to it. It can help us navigate thoughts we need more faster.

Also, the format is not limited to just a non-linear one. You can also write sequential hub notes.

For instance, the positional embedding in transformer 1a is related to the time sequences in Fourier Transformation 2b. They all share one common rule 4f.

Post edited by ctietze on

• @yunpeng I just started reading your post; haven't finished it yet. But I thought I'd mention up front that the first image for what a Zettelkasten looks like is misleading. The image just shows a hierarchical relationship between the various zettels, which of course is not what a ZK is all about. You might want to show more of a network of zettels.

• @GeoEng51 said:
@yunpeng I just started reading your post; haven't finished it yet. But I thought I'd mention up front that the first image for what a Zettelkasten looks like is misleading. The image just shows a hierarchical relationship between the various zettels, which of course is not what a ZK is all about. You might want to show more of a network of zettels.

You get it. This image can be a rough approximation of a Zettelkasten. We definitely need to be more precise. Have you got any suitable picture for this?

• @yunpeng said:
You get it. This image can be a rough approximation of a Zettelkasten. We definitely need to be more precise. Have you got any suitable picture for this?

Try googling "zettelkasten network image" - you will see many different images of varying complexity, and can chose one that suits your purpose

• @GeoEng51 said:

@yunpeng said:
You get it. This image can be a rough approximation of a Zettelkasten. We definitely need to be more precise. Have you got any suitable picture for this?

Try googling "zettelkasten network image" - you will see many different images of varying complexity, and can chose one that suits your purpose

Thanks. I have found several appropriate images. However, I have not figured out how to edit my past post. Do you have any idea? 😁

• edited October 31

@yunpeng said:
Thanks. I have found several appropriate images. However, I have not figured out how to edit my past post. Do you have any idea? 😁

I don't think you can. Once you have posted something, you have up to 4 hours to edit it. After that, I think you just have to leave another comment in the same discussion. If you ask @Sascha or @ctietze , they might be able to edit the original post for you.

• Edited the post and replaced the picture 👍

Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

• @ctietze said:
Edited the post and replaced the picture 👍

Really appreciate!