Zettelkasten Forum

Hello from Chile II

Hi People!

I'm an geosciences investigator based in Santiago, Chile.

I found about Zettelkasten a few weeks ago while navigating Wikipedia on Systems Theory -> Niklas Luhman.

It was nice to know about it and got me really excited about the possibilities.

I try to apply systemic thinking on my research, complex systems and stuff, which is really interesting for me but also gave me an (pretty bad) information overload a few years ago. Complex systems theory allows you to see links between disciplines, which also can make hard to focus on one thing at a time.

I struggled through my endless master thesis process. It got me sick for real. Concentrating was sometimes impossible even for whole weeks. Gracefully I ended it well a few months ago and now I'm a researcher, in the meantime I prepare myself for doing my phd (hopefully 2024 in Berlin).

With renovated energies, I'm gradually managing to find a new flow for my work and personal life. A really important part is to develop a workflow, combining project management, journaling, synchronization/backing between home and work devices, code software integration.

I use to take notes by hand in a notebook. I have several of them filled with research logs, scientific articles notes, theory notes, ideas, day/week journals. I tried (space)emacs and org-mode a couple of years ago, learned the basics to left it completely a month later.

Now I decided to base my workflow on digital notes. I've sneak into doom emacs with org-roam, obsidian and vscode with dendron.

I'm inclining in favor of having a note-taking workflow integrated with vscode instead of emacs, as I program in vscode.
Other things that I'm starting to learn is Zotero and zettelkasten workflows.

Since deciding on digital note-taking systems choice paradox led to paralysis analysis. But today I finally started with a weakly planner on markdown, in any case it will be not worse than writing it on a physical notebook that will be forgotten.

Thanks for maintaining this nice community.

All the best


  • Willkommen, Bruder.

    I am a Zettler

  • Welcome to the forums @cris_signa.
    You'll find lots of systems thinking discussion here and some specific talk around specific software, and much of it can be generally applied.

    I understand the desire to zettelkast in an IDE like VS Code. I code in VS Code and have looked at Dendron. It seems like a cool project. I took the red pill a while ago and am invested in plain text with no separate database that is dependent on software without a 20-year proven track record. I've been burned in the past.

    I tried emacs but fell, hitting my head, and quickly coming to my senses. I use The Archive to host my zettelkasten and would be interested in hearing your thoughts about Dendron if you should go that way. I'd be particularly interested in how it distracts and helps with coding. Also how because it is tied with coding, how does it feel to work in it with non-coding material?

    Zotero is a scorching hot app. There are a few great plugins for VS code but I use a Keyboard Maestro macro which make inserting a citation anywhere. [@west:2017] (including here)

    Interesting, your a geosciences investigator. What exactly are you investigating?

    Works Cited
    -- West, Geoffrey B. Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies, American Psychological Association. 2017.

    Will Simpson
    The quality of our thinking is directly proportional to the quality of our reading. To think better, we must read better. - Rohan

  • edited December 2022

    @cris_signa Welcome to the forum and to the world of Zettelkasten!

    I am a geologist / geological engineer living in Canada, but old enough now to be semi-retired. I started building a ZK about 2.5 years ago, using The Archive as my main ZK software but also using NotePlan (which I highly recommend you check out) which allows me to keep the rest of my life and learning organized.

    There's a lot of software out there. My only piece of advice, for what it's worth, is to keep your software choices (as the rest of your life) as simple as possible. I generally try out different products and then settle on the simplest one that meets my real needs (immediate and foreseeable). I don't waste time learning about complex software with all sorts of bells and whistles, if I don't actually need them. In fact, even if the software does exactly what I need but it is needlessly complex, I find an alternative.

    The Archive fits the bill for me, perfectly. If you decide to use it, you will find you can create a wonderful ZK. And there are people like @Will who have developed KeyBoard Maestro macros to automate and make your regular tasks even easier.

    In regard to simplifying your life, in my opinion that should be right up there with the other virtues. Some people like their life to be busy and complex; I prefer simple. But it took a while to figure that out (20 years or so :smile: )

    Best of luck as you get settled in. You will find fantastic discussion and advice on this forum.

  • Thanks @Sascha, @Will & @GeoEng51 for your nice welcome. Best wishes to you all for this year 2023.

    It's been a while since my post and I want to share some thoughts on my digital note-taking/zettelkasten growth process, along with addressing questions and comment some issues you made.

    A little more about myself. I'm a seismic hazard investigator, currently developing models to analyze seismicity, with the goal of transferring knowledge to government emergency management agencies and seismological centers.

    About dendron, it appears it is too developer-oriented for me. The expectations from their functionalities were washed down by the daunting learning curve I briefly experienced, also it was nice to use a separate ambient for note-taking, having started using computers in the software era more than in the all-in-one text editor hacker/emacs/vim era, it is just more natural for me.

    I'm trying to follow @GeoEng51 hint of using a simple system and it's already giving me credits. It has been nice to have my floating ideas from the last couple of months in a environment where I can observe, correct or update them. I'm using obsidian with one note for each weak and separate notes with ideas that I mutually connect. Also, Zotero integration is great to keep track of where some of those ideas came from.

    As I want to do zettelkasten in order to help me with creative writing besides what is related to work, I am thinking if a separate environment could be helpful.

    Just for curiosity I'll ask, do you fellas keep "life" notes and "profession" notes separate or mixed?

  • @cris_signa said:
    Just for curiosity, I'll ask, do you fellas keep "life" notes and "profession" notes separate or mixed?

    I come down on the side of mixed. This topic has been discussed before here, and elsewhere.

    Will Simpson
    The quality of our thinking is directly proportional to the quality of our reading. To think better, we must read better. - Rohan

  • @cris_signa Good to hear more about you. I wanted to mention that I use Scrivener for almost all of my writing tasks. If you haven't heard of it, check it out:


    You write in "plain text" and then can export to other formats if you want. The thing I like about it is that you can import a number of text files (read "zettels") into a sidebar, view them separately or together, move them around, and then start bridging between them when writing an article. It's a very smooth writing environment.

    It has lots of other features that are very useful to writers, but it is easy to just start using it and figure out some of its features as you gain experience.

    Send me a message if you want to discuss Scrivener further (through the forum; just click on my moniker, which will take you to a page with some info about me, and then on the Message button).

  • @Will said:
    I come down on the side of mixed.

    To clarify, keep only notes geared toward your knowledge schema development projects in zettelkasten, no matter if they are related to personal or professional knowledge-building goals. Notes on the types of 'read later' web clippings, to-do lists, journaling, warranties, how-to lists, and manuals for the lawnmower have no place in a zettelkasten. Keep these separately. On the rare occasions you want to reference one source in the catch-all repository to your zettelkasten, you can provide a link or import the content at that time.

    Make every effort to keep the knowledge project of life separate from the detritus of life.

    Will Simpson
    The quality of our thinking is directly proportional to the quality of our reading. To think better, we must read better. - Rohan

  • @Will said:
    Make every effort to keep the knowledge project of life separate from the detritus of life.

    Haha! Very quotable, Will!

  • Hi @cris_signa , I am also new to the Zettelkasten world.
    Similar you, I am looking at other softwate simultaneously, "Obsidian", "Tinderbox" and "The Archive".

    What I like about the first two is that they are more visual, in terms of relationships and I like "The Archive" for its simplicity.

    I investigated "Roam Research", very used, but the information is in the network, with all that means the security and privacy of your data, so I discarded it.

    But besides writing to you, to explain what I am doing is that I am also from Santiago, district La Reina.

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