Zettelkasten Forum

Hi everyone

Hi everyone, I am a cognitive science masters student. I recently read the Ahrens book on Taking Smart Notes, which was recommended by a friend, who also pointed the way to this site.

I am now completely convinced of the use of the zettelkasten method, and want to get started with it for generating non fiction writing. I have not really started using it yet, though, as I am currently 'between devices'. Until I get a laptop, I am reading all I can around the method, in preparation for actually starting to use it by September/October.

It does seem that The Archive will be the best - I am holding out for finding a good, affordable second hand mac.

In the meantime I am trying to practice expressing ideas as simply and 'modular' as possible, and with my notes and thoughts as cards on Trello.

Bye for now, keep up the great work everyone!



  • Oh I would say, also, that the only advantage I can see of Trello is as practice for putting ideas succinctly on notecards. You still need to give groups of cards titles, which is very restrictive and discouraging, as it forces you to decide on categories before you even write anything. But for the time being it is useful as it is accessible from any (online) machine.

    Right now I am reading all the many useful discussions and materials on here and deciding on my theoretical inclinations re: folgezettel, etc.

  • Welcome aboard, @Steph! As always, I'm looking forward to hear more about your journey -- for totally selfish reasons: to improve explanations on the site :)

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

  • @ctietze well you're in luck right now as I am stuck on some work I was doing, and waiting for my dinner to cook, so I am in exactly the type of expansive mood to tell you all about myself and my journey.

    A bit of history:

    My journey is the most random and incoherent on the planet. Until last year I operated on a principle of taking the path of least resistance, or of doing what seemed interesting at any given time. This gave me some awesome life experiences, but seen from the bigger picture seems a little illogical. I have always enjoyed travelling, collecting experience and reading, so I know a little about an awful lot of random things.

    My degree was History of Art and Russian, and when I graduated in 2008 I moved to Moscow, where I lived for six years. I worked in various translating and editing jobs, the most 'technical' and long-term of which was in the deal advisory department of a Big4 professional services firm. As I needed to basically learn the whole of accounting to be able to translate and edit such technical content, I did the professional accounting qualification on the job, to get chartered. Once I had done half of that I could call myself a 'part-qualified accountant' and apply for jobs in that field back in the UK where I am from. In 2013 I moved back to the UK to work in the same company in a small Mergers & Aquisitions team, doing financial due diligence.

    This job was great and I enjoyed it, but, I felt a bit like I was not fully suited to it, like I was not fulfilling everything I could do, not contributing to human knowledge. I wanted to work for knowledge but I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do. In 2017 I left the field of accounting and finance entirely and started a general psychology conversion masters. This is basically an undergrad degree accelerated into one year, for people who are trying to change their career into something involving psychology.

    That was a great year and among other things I did a dissertation on using EEG brain imaging (where you measure the electrical activity of the brain) as a possible biomarker for Alzheimer's disease. The degree was not a 'proper' masters, though, as it was not as deep or specialised as a masters for those who already have a degree in psychology. So, now I am doing my specialised masters.

    I am doing it part time over 2 years primarily so I can work for cash (part time in a care home for people with neurological conditions), and partly so I have plenty time to read and really decide on the best area to follow, the best and most strategic research questions to follow. I am already in my mid30s so I need to think strategically and get clear in my mind on the exact field of science I want to follow, without getting distracted. So I try to read widely. I know I read for fun and have read more widely than many people, which I must be able to leverage in some way to help me find the direction I need - this idea comforts me when I worry that I am too all over the place.

    I am especially interested in flow for one, and simple visual hallucinations for another - all those pixels and phosphenes and imagery we see when falling asleep, on closed eyelids.

    For example, I thought I was super interested in brain imaging, all the fMRI and EEG, but over the past year I have often seen how there seem to be behavioural equivalents of the results you find - that is, you often don't seem to add much exciting other than fancy science for the sake of it. (No offence made, and there is good imaging of course, but it does seem to sometimes become an expensive end in itself).

    I think I am exactly the type of person who needs a zettelkasten.

    (Right now I am working on a translation of a Russian cognitive scientist from the 50s who has never been published in English.)

    Cheers, hope you don#t mind my huge splurge about myself...! Bye for now

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