Zettelkasten Forum

Readwise.io with The Archive

Has anybody used the readwise.io API (https://readwise.io/munger) to synchronize their highlights/notes into Archive-friendly text files?

Would be great to have each quote process into a note that links to a overall note for the book/article.


  • I've actually played with the same type of idea, but using tools like https://hypothes.is and https://getliner.com, and also looked into https://getpolarized.io/ for doing local-only processing (stores all it's things as .js files).

    I love the idea, just needs some attention paid more for automating it. It has to be easy to use, or it's more hassle than just copy/pasting references into The Archive and typing your own ideas in there anyway. Having something close to "Digital Marginalia" like making marks in books, that can easily be exported/integrated with The Archive or any other note-taking app, is something I'm both looking for, and also hacking on, on the side.

  • From a technical perspective, this should be possible: Andy Matuschak's backlink insertion tool is an example of how you can maintain an automatically generated part of a note with external tooling. So it's possible to synchronize from the web API to your notes in a similar way, by using a reserved heading like ## Readwise Annotations that'll be replaced if needed.

    I wonder what this might look like, though. I don't know the API or the ideas you two have in mind.

    Let's say you can identify your books e.g. with a traditional citekey, then in author-year form adler1940 would be "How to Read a Book". So an automatically generated copy of your highlights may be called adler1940.txt with all the annotations downloaded into it. But what happens next? I don't see how you benefit from synchronizing all annotations. I do see how downloading them once can help, so you don't have to copy & paste all quotes individually. As I imagine the process, the next step is to create Zettel notes from your annotations anyway, so there's no value of the annotations once you process them. In my understanding, this makes sync obsolete as soon as you process the annotations once.

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

  • Each highlight in Readwise is kind of already a zettel you made when doing the highlight. Contains the highlight, article or book detail, optional notes, optional tags. The part that's missing is the linking to related zettels outside that book/article, right?

  • Oh, and I see your point about import vs. synchronize...we would want to pull in all the new ones each time and process, but not sync-back to readwise. I would want to script it to check periodically for new ones (daily or something), but it'd really be a one-way sync in, not bi-directional.

  • I agree about this being just a download, or a one-way sync. I saw this as a digital equivalent setup as @ctietze does with his "Pull all your paper notes out of the book you were reading into a pile to make clusters with" (from here), or of @Sascha using the Barbell Method where you review the marked parts only on the 2nd pass. This is just a tool to generate what others have called "Literature Notes" outside of the main text, as a temporary medium to make part of the transition from "Notes stuck in books/other software" easier to get at to then process and Zettelize.

    I'd imagined it just being a temp space to better see and mess with your highlights/notes outside of the website format, but not yet ready for direct inclusion into the Zettelkasten. A "destkop area" for your intermediate thoughts, that you had while reading other things, but they need a little more massaging to get them finally ready for inclusion in your Zettelkasten proper. I think others like to put that in the Zettelkasten directly as the thoughts happen, though I'm not sure. I need to do some more reviewing around that part of the process it seems.

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