Zettelkasten Forum

Share with us what is happening in your ZK this week. March 3, 2024

Swimming with Ideas

This is another installment of the What Are You Working On? thread. Add to this discussion by telling us about your zettelkasten journey. Share with us what you're learning. Sharing helps me and, hopefully, you, too. It helps me clarify my goals and visualize my thinking. And sometimes, a conversation sparks a magical moment where we can dive into an idea worth exploring. We'd love to hear more from you. 🫵🏼

Ideas I'm exploring with my ZK:

  • A mindset that revolves around the organization and clarity of thought processes in note-making. How notes are proxies for ideas, and if I want clarity in my ideas, I need clarity in my notes.
  • Again, with the mindset. Having a mindset that matches the challenge is the key to flourishing.
  • Working to fit OpenAI's ChatGPT into my workflow as a tutor and a critic. Rather than make my work easier, this is pointing to much more work thinking on my part, which is a good thing. The discussion we're having in the forums at GPT4 Zettel Critique Assistant is elevating my interaction with my ZK.
  • I'm exploring the idea of ambiance. I am studying its philosophical, psychological, and environmental design aspects. I'm getting help from the thread "solvitur ambulando," which was previously established in my ZK.

Lectures I'm capturing

Things I'm reading:

  • Sertillanges, A. G. and Ryan, Mary. The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods. 1987. Physical
  • Sáenz, Benjamin Alire. Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe. 2012. Everand Ebook
  • Reilly, Winifred M. It Takes One to Tango: How I Improved My Marriage - with Absolutely No Help from My Husband* - and How You Can, Too (*Maybe Just a Little). 2017. Everand Audiobook

Music I'm listening to:

A look at this week's ZK work themes:

3 zettel - meta zettelkasting
2 zettel - meta writing
0 zettel - advancing python
3 zettel - Ed-Curriculum & Instruction (EDCI445)
12 zettel - captured new and novel ideas


The "My rolling ten-day zettel production" is produced by a script for attachment to my daily journaling template. I do my journaling in Bear to keep personal journaling separate from my knowledge work.

Let me know if you would like to discuss any of these notes.

My ten day zettel production

Will Simpson
I must keep doing my best even though I'm a failure. My peak cognition is behind me. One day soon I will read my last book, write my last note, eat my last meal, and kiss my sweetie for the last time.


  • If anyone accuses me of being sane, I have an alibi: my obsession with the Zettel Critique Assistant GPT. I've spent countless hours tweaking the instructions, negotiating changes, and arguing with the Large Language Model. My other projects have fallen by the wayside. The Monastic Study Alcove began contributing to the atmosphere--I won't say what. It's time to take a shower.

    GitHub. Erdős #2. CC BY-SA 4.0. Problems worthy of attack / prove their worth by hitting back. -- Piet Hein.

  • I continue to work slowly but steadily on my Storyworth project. This was a gift from a daughter to encourage me to move beyond my ZK and write a more comprehensive book of personal memories and family history.

    I'm up to week 10 now, with the topic of last week's entry being how my paternal grandparents immigrated from Poland/Ukraine to Canada. This drew from three notes in my ZK, but also required me to go beyond family anecdotes and research the history of Galicia from about 1900 to 1950. In particular, I believe my grandparents incentive for moving was tied not just to harsh living conditions and poverty, but also to the political and social forces of the time and ongoing wars (with the Russian civil war and the Russian-Polish war following quickly on the heels of WWI).

    The topics vary considerably from week to week, so the process never gets boring. The main challenge is just keeping up!

  • I love this thread and read it every time, but rarely reply because I don’t feel like I have much of value to add. I decided to break that chain today.

    In the last few weeks, I went ‘nuts’ and moved my ZK from digital to paper. I got the idea after seeing this threads by Sascha and remembering how much I like working with paper. I spent a few days agonising about what to do and was finally convinced by the discussion in this thread.

    I then proceeded to reprocess the ~500 notes I had in my Zettelkasten and rewrote them on paper. In the process I realised I had fallen victim to the collector’s fallacy, as much as I was trying to avoid it. My sin was hoarding references to papers I haven’t actually read but were mentioned in books I have read. Of course, I was intending to look at them closer at some unspecified point in the future 🙄

    The whole process prompted me to reevaluate what I want from my Zettelkasten, how I can best use it to support my efforts and how to tailor it to my needs and my personality. It was very illuminating and so far I’m happy I made the switch.

    Currently reading

    Georgia Ede - Change your diet, change your mind
    Kourosh Dini - Workflow mastery

    Latest zettels

    About journaling, creative writing and reinventing oneself.

  • edited March 5

    I have problems about liking my Zettels. I am generally not satisfied with the way I partition things. I delete, start over and it takes DAYS to do something meaningful. I read everything possible including Model Theory and Information Architecture (UX) and so on... Couldn't find a proper way to break things apart.

    Currently Reading

    • System 1 & System 2 papers as in Kahneman & Tversky's work and the relationship to the Nietzsche's ideas.
    • Things about Modeling & Map-making (World in the Model : How Economists Work and Think) and a systematic way for information injection to ZK
    • Sapiens. The softest introduction to the field history I've found.

    Latest Zettels

    Applied Neuroscience, cultural code & EP, System 1 & 2 and cultural code... Nothing fruitful actually due to my perfectionism.

    Post edited by c4lvorias on

    Selen. Psychology freak. https://twitter.com/neuro__flow

    “You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.”

    ― Ursula K. Le Guin

  • edited March 5

    Ideas I'm exploring with my ZK:

    • My research leads me to a nice model with like-minded groups of people working with Zettelkasten method. It's a visual concept that helps me to find further insights to understand Zettelkasten interactions. Here is my initial view showing groups with different learning approaches and different knowledge intensity.

    Learning Approach

    • Structured Learning: Groups following formal or highly structured learning paths, such as Students & Academics and Educators & Trainers.
    • Mixed Learning: Groups combining structured learning with some degree of exploration or experimentation, such as Self-Learners & Autodidacts and Language Learners.
    • Exploratory Learning: Groups relying heavily on exploration, experimentation, or serendipitous discovery, such as Creative Professionals and General Knowledge Collectors.

    Knowledge Intensity

    • Low Intensity: Groups dealing with broad or basic knowledge, such as General Knowledge Collectors and Language Learners.
    • Moderate Intensity: Groups engaging with specialized but not highly technical knowledge, such as Students & Academics and Educators & Trainers.
    • High Intensity: Groups dealing with highly specialized or technical knowledge, such as Researchers & Scholars, Creative Professionals, Knowledge Workers & Professionals, and Data Scientists & Analysts.

    Even though we all use the Zettelkasten method, each group still has different needs and preferences. This helps me better understand some of our discussions here in the forum.

    Things I'm reading

    • The School of Life. Great Thinkers: Simple Tools from Sixty Great Thinkers to Improve Your Life Today. Hardcover – Illustrated, 30 Jan. 2018

    Edmund Gröpl
    Writing is your voice. Make it easy to listen.

  • edited March 5

    Zettelkasten frenzy

    I'm dumping a ton of stuff in my Zettelkasten at the moment. The range of topics is immense:

    • curriculum and practice to teach programmers the way of the Zettelkasten, including expanding on the idea of Atomicity and other concepts that are well-known to software-engineers
    • pregnancy, child-bearing, parenthood
    • meta-programming techniques (opening up an app I write (and that you know) to be controllable by the user)
    • refreshing my knowledge on PHP, HTML and CSS for websites in 2024 -- some will be for Zettelkasten, some are for personal projects
    • Docker container creation; previously, I've used containers, but now I'm exploring how to start a project in the Docker ecosystem to make it reusable

    There are 27 new Zettel from the 10 days before March 3rd, and I've edited ~52 in that time. So it's been a very productive but also almost confusingly diverse couple of weeks.


    • Walter Isaacson: The Code Breaker (almost thrilling)
    • Leena Simon: Digitale Mündigkeit (leans on Kant, but doesn't deliver and falls flat)


    • Zettelkasten Method (German) book assembly in LaTeX; now the 80% work for the final 20% effect kick in :)
    • members area code for the web
    • bug fixes for my apps, if anything at all app-related (I can't really work on The Archive plugins in parallel with the rest; I don't make a dent into anything with a lack of focus)

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

  • @ctietze said:

    • pregnancy, child-bearing, parenthood

    This is my cue to highly recommend the book Real Food for Pregnancy by Lily Nichols. It’s the best book about pregnancy nutrition and one I really regret not having read before I had my first kid. It would have saved me so much trouble. That book is pure gold. It’s accessible, actionable and researched and referenced like a textbook.

  • @Nori Thanks for the recommendation!

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

  • Last Week's Thinking and Zetteling

    • Applied the model of the principal-agent-problem to the phenomenon of restraint bias for the habit book. (None of the three versions of oneself actually performs a task as an agent, but just delegates it to an uninformed principal)
    • Started to Learn about Corner Stone Content (and am a bit startled by the lack of depth, even when they themselves claim to demonstrate cornerstone content with their article)
    • Started a table to categorise books for later development of rules of thumb on how to process different types of books.
    • The relationship of today's culture of distracting yourself in leisure times, instead of actually engaging with leisures and raising a child.

    Last Week's Writing

    Last Week's Reading

    • Feel Good Productivity by Abdaal
    • The 12 Week Year for Writers
    • A couple of pages of an adaptation of the Nibelungen Saga
    • And of course the boat loads of studies I need to read.

    I am a Zettler

  • First post in a while. A recent uptick in my zetteling, as I recover from some personal setbacks and disruptions during 2022-2023, has seen my manage to produce about 60,000 words and 300+ notes since New Year. A lot of that has been refactoring and revision work. I've started journaling in my zettelkasten, inspired in large part by this post by Sascha. I fretted that combining journaling with my knowledge work might somehow 'pollute the pool' as it were, but so far I am enjoying the cross-contamination.

    Thinking and zetteling

    • Ghosts and places, genius loci, Vernon Lee, Arthur Machen, etc.
    • Genealogies of the gothic.
    • Atomic habits
    • Internal Family Systems (IFS) theories...

    Last week's reading

    • Richard Schwartz. No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma & Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model.
    • Michael Mayerfield Bell. "The Ghosts of Place."
    • Merlin Coverley. Hauntology: Ghosts of Futures Past.

    Started ZK 4.2018. "The path is at your feet, see? Now carry on."

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