Zettelkasten Forum

My Zettelkasten Journey (So Far)

Hello, I'm Mike from South Carolina in the US. Here is my Zettelkasten journey so far.

  • 1970's
    • My degree is in English. I wanted to be a writer.
  • 1980's
    • I learned to code in IBM 360 Assembler using punch cards actually (How crazy is that?). Even taught Assemble at a local tech school. Been in software development ever since. The process of writing and coding is similar.
    • I became a software developer, eventually working with Oracle databases, thinking about data and information in terms of a data dictionary and structured query language (I still do). The programming language doesn't matter. I can't say I used them all, but most of the major ones.
  • 2000's
    • Abandoned what I thought was a desire to be in management and took a leap and became an independent contractor. I never looked back.
  • 2018-03
  • 2019-02
    • Purchased The Archive after spending the previous year trying to get my thinking and my existing note pile of entropy mess disaster infused with as much of the best ideas I could find and mimic from the Blog and Forum here at Zettelkasten.de.
  • 2019-06
    • My leap in the 2000's paid-off. I retired.
    • People asked me what I wanted to do in retirement. Sort of like what do you want to do when you grow up.
    • I had no clue.
    • Eventually, I realize I wanted to think and to write, which is why I choose a degree in English back in the day.
  • 2019-10
    • I succeeded in taming my note pile of entropy using Bear Notes using the Zettelkasten Method.
    • I choose Bear Notes because I already had notes there, and I thought to have inline images important.
    • I joined the Forum.zettelkasten.de, excited with my efforts with Bear Notes.
  • 2019-12
    • I woke up in the middle of a cold dark winter night with the terror that my note pile of entropy tamed by the ZK Method was a classic example of "Collector's Fallacy."
    • I decided to accept and embrace "The Bear" and continue to indulge my Collector's fallacy fetish.
    • I realize Bear was the right choice at the time for my collecting because of the inline image, file, sketching support, and having the same app on both macOS and IOS. It basically was my Evernote I just didn't realize it.
    • Often the obvious eludes me.
  • 2020-01
    • I decided that The Archive would be where I write to think and think to write.
    • I began again abandoning four prototype previous attempts to build a thinking companion between 2019-02 and 2019-10 using the ZK Method and "The Archive."
  • 2020-02 (Now)
    • Gaining traction with The Archive, building my thinking companion.
    • I am an audiophile and enjoy listening to vinyl.
    • Like both Windows and macOS, macOS makes me happier. A Unix command-line also makes me happy.
    • My macOS editor is BBEdit, everywhere else some flavor of vim.
    • My little collector friend - The Bear
    • My little thinking friend - The Archive
    • My little writing friend - Brave Ulysses
    • Since I don't work anymore here is my
      • *Retirement-Work-Fun-flow (Percolating in progress)
        • Bear Notes → Collector's fallacy fetish → The Archive → Zettelkasten@FutureSelf → Ulysses long-form writing.
  • Acknowledgments
    • Christian and Sacha. You, guys, are brilliant. Thank you.
    • Will, your contributions have been an enormous help to me. Thank you.
    • Everyone that participates here, I find your comments and insights fascinating. Thank you.
  • Final thoughts
    • As long as I have been behind a keyboard, I have never joined a forum until......
    • Forum.zettelkasten.de is my first and only experience as a forum participant.
    • Not sure why I waited to introduce myself since next month I will have been around here for two years.
    • I enjoy being a part of this community and am having a great time!
    • I feel like I have found my Retirement Home. 🙂
    • I think monospaced font markdown formatted plain text is beautiful, like well-formatted source code, like poetry, like art.
    • You can tell a lot about a person from their source code.
    • This is probably way more then you wanted to know.
    • I'm getting carried away, but thank you for reading to the end.

-I will stop now.


  • Hi @MikeBraddock pleased to read this. I both nodded my head and laughed at the hilarious sarcastic comments there.

    Maybe I need to write up one of these too then, having been around since August 2018 :D

    I am a Zettler, ie 'one who zettles'
    research: pragmatism, 4e cognitive science, metaphor | you can't be neutral on a moving train

  • Hi @MikeBraddock , it's great to get context to help see where you're coming from. I joined the forum after you, but welcome anyway!

  • Cool journey. I can relate to the aherence to the collector's fallacy. :smile:

    (I made peace with my will to collect by making a dumpster file in org)

    Would you mind to give an practical example of your process? It reminds me of a friend who is a mathematican. She does a lot on paper and uses a Zettelkasten to store the results.

    I am a Zettler

  • @Sascha said:
    Would you mind to give an practical example of your process? It reminds me of a friend who is a mathematican. She does a lot on paper and uses a Zettelkasten to store the results.

    The Bear

    I have a lot of Bible class notes I have taken over the years. I probably have over 2000 scattered all over the place; Devonthink, plain text, Word documents, etc. The only thing consistent about these notes is that I took them. They are everywhere and unprocessed. The notes are from lectures from the church I affiliate with that teaches from the original languages of the Bible, Greek, and Hebrew, in the framework of systematic theology. It's not fire and brimstone motorcycle to hell kind of thing, but more of a scholarly academic approach with a classroom setting than traditional.

    When I discovered Zettelkasten.de and began learning about the ZK Method, approaching retirement, I decided to do something about those notes. I started gathering the ones from the past into The Bear and taking new ones directly via The Bear. Still not processing them but collecting. These are definitely "notes" I take and not zettels I make. I receive these lectures via mp3's and sometimes DVD's, so I have a steady flow of them.

    They include some metadata and an attempt at tagging, which is primarily organizational and not nonlinear networked knowledge for thinking and pondering. I get some benefit from full-text searches and the tags I have, but since they haven't been processed and distilled, they mostly look nice and sit there.

    The Archive

    Now that I have collected these notes and have more time, I hope to compress, process, and distill them into The Archive as zettels in my voice. My goal is to learn and understand the principles taught for which I have so many notes, use my second brain to improve my cognition and retention in my first brain.

    I am at the very beginning of this process and working out the kinks, processing them into The Archive, while doing my due diligence pondering what's important and what's not, i.e., tags, metadata, searching, format, support toolkit like KM. After reading some discussions and comments here, I am likely letting perfect interfere with good and am now beginning to gain some traction.

    Other examples

    My wife and are taking a Master Gardener Class together, which is ten weeks of six hours of class time a week. I know nothing about gardening, but my wife does. There is an exam at the end as the first step of certification and then an internship with a mentor for a year that leads to membership in the local association for Master Gardners. The association is a not-for-profit organization of volunteers. Their goal is to promote and teach environmentally sound, research-based gardening practices locally. The Master Gardner Program is all affiliated with Clemson University and its extension service.

    For notes for this class, I am following the same process as with the Bible class notes. My goal is to distill my gardening notes down as reference material into a knowledge base using The Archive. Again to learn, improve my cognition, and retention. During the mentoring period, I see using The Archive for capturing and processing insight and experience gain during the internship. My goal is the take the gardening knowledge zettels to Ulysses to create a Git Book like output. Or post to my blog for handy on the go reference and to share with others such as my wife.

    That all sounds lofty, but in the end, I am going to be a support lackey with training for my wife's gardening projects, and her participation and volunteer work in the Master Gardening Association. My Zettelkasten can help me be a better lackey.

    My journal and creative writing live in Ulysses. My goal for my journal is to privately publish my many years of journals for my family in digital format and physical book format. Plain text is future proof, but digital, physical books can last for generations. The Bear and The Archive will serve as support tools for that effort. For creative writing, I think The Archive will be a useful development tool to feed first drafts in Ulysses, which if I get the courage, polish, prepare, and publish to my blog.

    I have a thing for Hemingway. I guess anyone that hopes to write does. Back in college, I did an independent study of his works, which I enjoyed very much. I plan to revisit Everest now that I am older and have time, using The Bear, The Archive, and Brave Ulysses as my processing triangle, my *Retirement-Work-Fun-flow.

    Use Zotero for a reference manager but not diligently. Hopefully, with time and growth, this will improve. Grammarly helps to clean up my mistakes, of which I make many.

    My make it sound good Mike, what the hell am I trying to do statement:

    My Zettelkasten and related tools are for exploring, nourishing, and supporting my spiritual, intellectual, and creative life for personal growth and enjoyment.

    There is my roadmap. Hopefully, this answers your request.

  • Thanks a whole lot for your insights!

    I am a Zettler

Sign In or Register to comment.