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English Translation of All Notes on Zettelkasten by Luhmann

imageEnglish Translation of All Notes on Zettelkasten by Luhmann

A I thought it would be nice if there was a common knowledge base on what Luhmann himself wrote on Zettelkasten. So here is a translation of all 18 notes of the section 9/8 of his second Zettelkasten. I tried to find a middle ground between a translation that is faithful to his style, the nature of the German language, and the least ambigious English I can come up with.

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Comments

  • Fascinating to see W. Ross Ashby pop up in Luhmann's section on zettelkasten in part because Ashby had a similar note taking practice, though part notebook/part index card based, and was highly interested in systems theory.

    🗃️ website | Hypothes.is notes

    No piece of information is superior to any other. Power lies in having them all on file and then finding the connections. There are always connections; you have only to want to find them. —Umberto Eco

  • edited November 4

    Luhmann's notes are telegraphic, not so much self-contained and publication ready. I see nothing that meets the criterion (who said that?) that a Zettel should be a blog post.

    Post edited by ZettelDistraction on

    Erdős #2. ZK software components. “If you’re thinking without writing, you only think you’re thinking.” -- Leslie Lamport. Replies sometimes delayed since life is short.

  • edited November 4

    @ZettelDistraction said:
    Luhmann's notes are telegraphic, not so much self-contained and publication ready. I see nothing that meets the criterion (who said that?) that a Zettel should be a blog post.

    Jap.

    • I believe that this is connected to his quite difficult to read writing style. I would describe his writing-style as almost dream-like. But more as in Ghost in the Shell meets Paprika.
    • This, I think, is one of the reasons why his references were "creatively" placed to put it mildly. Sometimes, they don't seem to make sense or need additional exegesis.
    • I deviated from this practice consciously as I saw the problem of opaque old notes over and over again. I saw it with my notes, with Christians, during coachings and reports like Robert Minto's Rank and File.
    • Opaqueness was not the only problem since one can use bad notes as inspiration, starters etc. There is some value in that. But dilligence becomes very important when:
      • You want to be truthful to your reference. See Luhmann's "style" of referencing. It doesn mean a piece is well-references just because there are a bunch of footnotes.
      • With domains that warrant more precision. Math and Physics might be the most extreme case of precision. But the current non-focus on good (precise, formal, deliberate,...) individual notes causes the assumption that the ZKM suited for writers or content creators.

    My take is to dissect each causal chain from habit to value of note taking systems and put them together under the umbrella of Luhmann's overall architecture.

    Post edited by Sascha on

    I am a Zettler

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