Following @sfast 's advice on object tags, I've increasingly transitioned to using zettels as claims which connect two or more tag objects, and away from using zettels to refer to objects themselves. For instance, a zettel might express the following:
Here, I'm using tags for objects, while the zettel itself embodies a specific claim. This practice has led to a proliferation of tags in my note system.
However, I don't really like multi-word tags. And tagging seems like a distraction from a key human-focused aspect of intellectual work: naming things. "Embodied Cognition", for example, is a term that has a specific meaning in a particular field; #EmbodiedCognition does not.
Rather than create a tag to represent some domain term, I'd prefer just to use whatever the domain term actually is. And rather than focus on creating clever tags in my system, I'd prefer just to coin new human-focused terms.
Bracket Tags are how I'm currently implementing this:
[["Human Behavior"]] is driven by [["Mental Models"]], which are enacted through [["Embodied Cognition"]]
The Archive doesn't allow me to use [[brackets]] to do a literal search, so I've employed quotation marks to make the search literal. This results in a slightly different functionality than standard #tags. These Bracket Tags will perform a search that will find any place the expression is used—tagged or not. But unlike a standard bracket search in The Archive, it will limit it to places that use those words in precisely that order.
In addition, this is fairly easy to script around. Building on these tag aggregator scripts, I've added a line that additionally pulls every Bracket Tag, so it can be added to my master tag list:
cat *.md | grep -o "\[\[\"[a-zA-Z0-9_,; ]*\"\]\]" | sort | uniq
Of course, instead of Bracket Tags, I could just use Zettel IDs:
Human Behavior [] is driven by Mental Models [], which are enacted through Embodied Cognition []
However, if there is a rationale for tags, then there's a rationale for alternatives to Zettel ID links.
For me, I've become inclined to avoid standalone object notes/zettels, as they lack any inherent logical structure, and so tend to become miniature examples of the Collector's Fallacy. Using Bracket Tags, instead of Zettel IDs, allows me to avoid standalone object notes.
Additionally, as I noted above, Bracket Tags keep me closer to the actual domain terms, and help me locate occurrences of domain terms even when I haven't notated them in any particular way.
To recap, Bracket Tags offer a slightly different functionality than either regular tags or Zettel ID links.
- In contrast to Zettel IDs, bracket tags allow you to make connections without using central object notes.
- In contrast to regular tags, bracket tags allow you to locate occurrences of particular terms, even in places where they aren't specifically marked up in any way.
- In contrast to unquoted [[search brackets]], bracket tags limit search results to places where those terms show up precisely.
- But like regular tags, bracket tags are easy to script.
I'm curious about your thoughts on the rationale and the technique.
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