Zettelkasten Forum


Our Brain Filters information. Modifying pre-ZK notes.

I've been reviewing the notes I took on a book from pre-Zettelkasten days, and more than ever, I have been struck with the reality that our brain filters information to a large degree. Pre-Zettelkasten I would copy the original quote from the book, and set up a review cycle, typically the next day, three days, one week, one month, and depending on how much I enjoyed the quote, I would review it every 3 - to 6 months after that. I would capture Journal type entry notes about how I felt about the selection, what it meant to me, and what I could learn from it, and due to the mind mapping software I used (TheBrain.com), I could link to other thoughts at will.

It is little wonder that I felt an instant kinship when I learned of the Zettelkasten methodology. However, I am taken aback by two things as I convert the old notes to my new Zettels. First, how journal entries often evolved, meaning my perception of what the author said changed as my knowledge of the topic increased. Second, I have often split a note into two or more Zettels to accommodate the atomic principle. My question is for those who don't keep the original quote as part of their Zettel. How often do you review the original author's quote, or do you ever?

Original quotes
  1. I keep the original quote as part of the Zettel5 votes
    1. Yes
      80.00%
    2. No
      20.00%

Comments

  • @Steve625, it is a mixed bag.

    Your question is hard to answer. Does any highlighted idea in a book equal an "author's quote" in the context you refer to? I don't think so. For example, 92.4% of the highlighted ideas for reading get digested, and I discard the original text. I do use proper citations where appropriate.

    But, the 7.6% of the highlighted ideas from a book seem to be crystalline encapsulations of purity that are star-bright, touching me in various ways. Those I keep the quotes intact, clearly marked as quotes with citations. Many of these super ideas get marked with the tag #beautiful-language. This idea originally came from Maria Popova in an interview with Tim Farris back in 2014.

    Will Simpson
    “Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”
    kestrelcreek.com

  • @Will

    Does any highlighted idea in a book equal an "author's quote" in the context you refer to? I don't think so. For example, 92.4% of the highlighted ideas for reading get digested, and I discard the original text. I do use proper citations where appropriate.

    Your 92.4% feels about right. Putting things into your own words is the Zettelkasten methodology, and I do this as well. However, I'm also referring to Christian's Blog Post Stop Relying on a Source and Have Faith in Your Own Thoughts In which Christian states, "This produces far better results, because a note you wrote yourself is tailored to your own patterns of thought, making it easier to work with it in the future." I agree. Up until my thought patterns change. Time brings new experiences, new knowledge, and changes to our brains' filtering system. My question then becomes a little more simple, how often have you re-read something and said, "Oh, how did I miss that? Wow, how did I not see that point?

  • I ask myself a simple question: What do I want my future self to find when it stumbles over the note? Sometimes, the answer is a fully processed note. Sometimes, I want the quote.

    I am a Zettler

  • @sfast said:
    I ask myself a simple question: What do I want my future self to find when it stumbles over the note? Sometimes, the answer is a fully processed note. Sometimes, I want the quote.

    Yep; that sounds like what I do as well. So the answer is basically "it depends" :wink:

  • @GeoEng51 said:

    @sfast said:
    I ask myself a simple question: What do I want my future self to find when it stumbles over the note? Sometimes, the answer is a fully processed note. Sometimes, I want the quote.

    Yep; that sounds like what I do as well. So the answer is basically "it depends" :wink:

    Sadly, yes. :) I am torn between the individuality of each case but when I review each case there is a pretty clear reasoning which decision should be made in the current case.

    If I think about it I think what @Will wrote is the most accurate. It is about beauty. If a quote is beautiful the beauty can only be captured by capturing the quote. However, that means that it is about the language and the exact wording.

    I, sometimes, have the hybris and think that I am able to improve on the wording and then still rewrite a quote with beauty in mind.

    Thinking further about the issue there are two pitfalls:

    1. One can be distracted by the emotions of the moment. A quote is not beautiful just because you liked it in the moment. The insights that came along with reading a section and the circumstances (now, my wife is vaccuuming my home office, I pranked her with a shock video, sun is shining through my window, I drank coffee, my dog is calm and happy -> I have an positive emotional reaction to just about anything) are blurring the ability to judge a quote properly.
    2. It can be tempting to leave the reformulation part out which decreases understanding and recall, and even can leave you missing out on the essence of the thought.

    So, the lesson is: Sirens are beautful, too. Better be safe like Odysseus and tie yourself to something solid like a more formal approach to processing. :)

    I am a Zettler

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