Zettelkasten Forum


The Zettelkasten Method Applied to Systems Thinking

Oops, I have started a few threads in this forum without having first introduced myself. I didn’t see this section before now. I will try to make amends.

My name is Robert, and the GreenBeing (or Thinking Earth) avatar is just to promote an attitude for environmental responsibility and justice, which I see as the raison d'être for my writing interests in science, science fiction, and metaphysics. The unifying thought in all of this is the study of the human condition … Science fiction, I find, is a great resource for this. Short articles, not books, would be the anticipated literary products of my endeavors.

Since university (engineering, operations research, business, and statistics) and professionally, I have always been a systems guy. So, after retiring with over thirty years of researching, analyzing, modeling, optimizing, and reporting about man-made technological systems, I wanted to turn my attention to the complex, natural systems that have emerged without Man, especially biological, geological, and cosmological systems. In this endeavor, I approach these systems as a journalist rather than an engineer or scientist.

My writing objective is to bridge the cognitive distance between the interested non-scientist and the work done by the scientists, metaphysicists, and philosophers studying these systems. 

Otherwise, I enjoy reading and learning about science and want to communicate that enjoyment to others in a way that promotes science as the foundational structure of humanism--an emerging and promising new ethos for the planet--and ultimately increases the per capita happiness on this planet through an understanding or epistemology of what we know and how we know it. I know what you are thinking ... :/

In a less superhuman way :p , I also do web development now as it has both technical and creative components. I am establishing a few blog sites, which will all need feeding. Drawing also interests me as an expressive outlet where words won’t work.

Productivity toward accomplishing these, perhaps lofty, objectives ...

This is where my Zettelkasten fits in. Perhaps, systems-thinking is why I (ill-advisedly?) started my initial archive as project-oriented. However, after reading a lion’s share of this forum and from Sonke Ahrens’ How to Take Smart Notes, I see merits in maintaining three kinds of loosely interrelated archives to manage the workflow for accomplishing these objectives:

  • Kitchen-sink (Ahrens’ “permanent” archive)
  • Project (Ahrens’ “literature” archive)
  • Journaling (Ahren’ “fleeting” archive)

Like @ctietze, I would accomplish the Journaling archive in an app like DayOne and with indexing. But I am exploring LifeJournal since DayOne went to a subscription business model. :(

And, like @sfast, I would be intent on moving anything substantial to the Kitchen-Sink archive: the Zettelkasten, to be sure. This is why I have joined this forum.

@rene’s Sublime-zk and/or Sublimeless-zk would be the target engines for this and the Project archive. There are so many great suggestions in this Forum for add-ons to an already superb implementation of a Zettelkasten engine. B)

I am considering finding a place for the open-source Atom editor as well and the conditionally free, multi-platform PhraseExpress (for the Forum’s need recommendation for autotext and text autocompletion functionality). Perhaps, Atom may be better for project-oriented archives as this editor can search entire directories, which is another thing I read in this forum as being a good thing for project-oriented archives.

However, I am still wrestling with how to implement a Reference Management System and how, perhaps, to do as Ahrens suggests and keep literature notes within the RMS.

So far, Zotero seems to lead the pack in terms of what I think I would need in an RMS (e.g., Scrivener compatibility being one consideration), though I am considering hosting one of three free web-based RMS solutions that have no volume-bracketed pay models.

Okay. Likely, much more than anyone needs or wants to know about me, but this is me in a context nutshell … emphasis on the nut. :p

Cheers

Comments

  • Great intro, welcome! :)

    My writing objective is to bridge the cognitive distance between the interested non-scientist and the work done by the scientists, metaphysicists, and philosophers studying these systems.

    This sounds rad, so more power to you! I'm looking forward to hearing more about your projects on these forums as you develop them.

    Otherwise, I enjoy reading and learning about science and want to communicate that enjoyment to others in a way that promotes science as the foundational structure of humanism--an emerging and promising new ethos for the planet--and ultimately increases the per capita happiness on this planet through an understanding or epistemology of what we know and how we know it. I know what you are thinking ... :/

    I don't know what you think you knew I was thinking, but that ties into the previous point just nicely and this resonates with me a lot. What else would one do with knowledge except spread it and make the world a better place, right? What kind of reaction are you usually confronted with? :)

    This @ctietze guy you mentioned hasn't used Day One in ages, I've heard. Last time I spoke to him, he switched to emacs (Free, OSS, cross-platform) and puts journalling notes into a diary.org file. What a nut, right? And he's moving over his project notes and task management to Org files, too. This emacs thing could probably replace Atom for most text manipulation tasks. (It could, in theory, replace it for all tasks, and then some, but you'd have to know how, first :))

    In terms of reference management, have a look at simple tools that don't box you in that much first: BibDesk for Mac or JabRef for Windows do a good job managing your reference information.

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

  • Nice! Welcome to our board.

    We do a quite similar thing:

    My writing objective is to bridge the cognitive distance between the interested non-scientist and the work done by the scientists, metaphysicists, and philosophers studying these systems.

    Only that I do it for other topics with the purpose of generating informed practices. I'd describe it as constructing models that are powerful yet simple enough that a person can understand and use them even though he/she has more to do in life than what I do.

  • This is uncanny! Since originating this thread, I have been investigating other text-based note-processing engines and RMSes. I've heard @sfast [Sascha] mention Org-mode, and @mediapathic [Steen] posted last April that he was attempting to stand up a Zettelkasten in Org-mode with the Deft add-on. I hope to hear more about this ...

    So, as a former emacs user, I made the opportunity to check out Org-mode. Indeed! And, with emacs, it runs on a Mac, a PC, and a Linux box. And now there is the free Org-mode-compatible iOS app: beorg.

    The result is that your archive can be used and synced from anywhere--by way of Dropbox, for example--without leaving org-mode. Think of seamless technical integration of the three conceptual architectural layers that I (and Sönke Ahrens) mention above. I think such an integration allows for sharper focus and cognitive consistency in the note-processing process. The engine should be mostly transparent to the process and not get in the way.

    Is there anything this perennial open-source engine cannot do? You can even publish your book from it. You can make viewgraph presentations using Zettels (check out org-reveal!). Yes, you can even integrate your diary into it like that nut @ctietze. I know ... :p

    Christian, as it turns out, I not only found emacs (again) with org-mode but also JabRef for an open-source, free reference management system that speaks BibTex natively. And it runs on a PC and on a Mac. So, your recommendation is encouraging that I am on a good path while overhauling my previous (and pathetic) note-processing infrastructure that mostly relied on my OEM memory.

    By the way, Deft is a great add-on (or "mode") for org-mode. It reminds me of something I put together with Perl years ago for culling through and selecting performance reports outputted from simulated and actual tests designed for the purpose of making comparative summary statements about the features under test. Think of these features as tags (keywords) embedded in Zettels.

    It seems that Deft could be used for further automation of many archival processes ... And Deft puts me immediately into org-mode when I invoke it with my configured [F8] hotkey. Maybe Steen will have more to say. I will try to do the same ...

    BTW, I don't think Atom puts emacs in danger in any way. Atom, at the moment, would not scale well performance-wise for very large Zettlekastens, IMHO. But, I am not at such a point to test such a conclusion ... and Atom is relatively young. ;)

    @sfast said:

    We do a quite similar thing:

    Only that I do it for other topics with the purpose of generating informed practices. I'd describe it as constructing models that are powerful yet simple enough that a person can understand and use them even though he/she has more to do in life than what I do.

    YOLO ...! B)

    "Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself" -- Jean Paul Sartre.

    Cheers

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