Resolving Conflicting Advice on Adding Novel Topics
Between reading Smart Notes, this forum, /r/Zettelkasten, and reading Luhmann's publicly available ZK, I've seen conflicting schools of thought for how I should number a slip that covers a brand new topic that doesn't yet exist in my relatively young ZK (217 notes so far).
I'll ask my question in the form of a scenario:
I'm learning the field of game theory, so I begin by reading some shortform articles to get started. My first concept is "Dominated Strategies". I don't have any slips in my ZK that touch this subject. I use Folgezettel because I like its structure, and my next available number at the "end" of my ZK is 35.0.
A. Create a completely new number (i.e. 35.0)
B. Quickly create a new "topical" slip called "Game Theory", number THAT 35.0, and number "Dominated Strategies" 35.1.
C. Number the initial slip 35.0, then create a "Game Theory" slip that's either appended (35.1) or afterward (36.0).
D. Some other option I'm not aware of.
Now a few things:
1. I know it's my ZK so I can basically choose whatever I want, but I want to hear how seasoned ZK users tackle this.
2. From what I read, the book and this community says that I should never use topics/categories ahead of time, so it appears A is "the answer". However, when I look at Antinet and even Luhmann's own ZK, they always start a "branch" with the topic name.
3. Finally, the problem I see with A is that if I later learn about "Common Knowledge", which is not associated with "Dominated Strategies" other than them both being game theory concepts, I'm in the same conundrum and neither slip are connected. This can become a problem if they're far apart (e.g. 35.0 and 82.0) and I forgot that I made the first one so they stay unlinked.
Please let me know which option you'd choose and what your thinking is behind why. Thanks!
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This strategy is akin to categorizing: trying to reserve "sexier" numbers for important topics first, and then putting every important aspect underneath it.
But that's not the strength of the Zettelkasten. With its growth, you'll inevitably want to continue some note many levels deep, say
12.34.56, but since it's 90% about a connection with "Game Theory", you'd be tempted to instead file it under
35.x. But the association is more valuable. And the address, in the end, is utterly meaningless.
So: Go with the flow (which you need to discover for yourself), don't try to engineer, and create overviews when you find them useful. The "Game Theory" topical index could be at
99.123and it'd work just as well.
It's hard to verify the claim that they always start this since you'd need to check every single note. To be frank, I don't have a Luhmann Zettel ID handy that refutes your claim, either. Maybe @Sascha has a hub note in store that's buried a bit deeper in the ZK II?
What we do have is section
IIin Luhmann's own ZK instructions at http://luhmann.surge.sh/communicating-with-slip-boxes -- fixed place is most important, the rest works via reference.
-- Your approach "A" doesn't sound bad!
Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/