Zettelkasten Forum


How do you handle the mixture of a literature note and a permanent note

I was writing some Zettel’s this evening, for the first time in a while, and stumbled across an issue.
Curious to see how others handle this scenario.

I was making literature notes, and whilst making them, on the same Zettel, I found myself explaining the concept back to myself in different words. All very well and good, but ideas that fit into the literature note to help explain the concept, started coming out on screen.
As these were my ideas from the original content, I was struggling to decide if they were literature notes and therefore belonged in the literature slip box, or permanent notes, and therefore belonged in the “main” slip box.

This must happen to others. Do you end up breaking the concept down further until you can separate the concept from the idea? So keep working to smaller atomic notes? I’m not sure I could do this and still keep the original zettel making sense, which goes against the principle of atomicity in my view...

Maybe I need to leave the card alone for a day or two, then revisit?

Comments

  • You are not struggling to decide between literature notes and permanent notes. Rather you are struggling to focus on the completion of one task.

    In your workflow one of your tasks is to make literature notes, another is to make permanent notes. When you create literature notes your own thinking and writing is relevant for the task. When you create permanent notes your own thinking and writing is relevant for the task. This overlapping is there, on purpose. You are supposed to fully complete one task before starting another. Once you complete one task it serves as a work base for the next task. The next task serves as a review of the previous one.

    Leaving the card alone for a day or two only applies to fleeting notes.

    my first Zettel uid: 202008120915

  • I wondered about this same thing when I first began. The problem was solved when @sfast mentioned that he didn't keep literature notes separate (why maintain both?). So the solution was effectively to simply write your literature note as a permanent note. I haven't looked back since.

    It seems like you are doing that already, but the idea of keeping "literature notes" separate is muddying the issue. Or put another way: you're already creating a permanent note that is functioning at the same time as a literature note.

  • @zk_1000 said:
    You are not struggling to decide between literature notes and permanent notes. Rather you are struggling to focus on the completion of one task.

    :lol: my life in a nutshell

  • @Darryl said:
    I wondered about this same thing when I first began. The problem was solved when @sfast mentioned that he didn't keep literature notes separate (why maintain both?). So the solution was effectively to simply write your literature note as a permanent note. I haven't looked back since.

    I am insisting on a more radical wording: There are no literature notes. Just notes that are part of the Zettelkasten and those which are not. :smile:

    I am a Zettler

  • Thanks both for your comments. Thats helped clear things up a bit.
    I actually made a start last night on what you suggested @Darryl and shifted the notes into my "permanent" slip-box.
    I'll carry on like this and change if I feel the need to...

    Thanks!

  • @sfast said:
    I am insisting on a more radical wording: There are no literature notes. Just notes that are part of the Zettelkasten and those which are not. :smile:

    This isn't radical, it's kindly advice.

    Will Simpson
    I'm a Zettelnant.
    Research: Rationalism, Zen, Dzogchen, Non-fiction Creative Writing
    kestrelcreek.com

  • @sepuku said:
    I was writing some Zettel’s this evening, for the first time in a while, and stumbled across an issue.
    Curious to see how others handle this scenario.

    I was making literature notes, and whilst making them, on the same Zettel, I found myself explaining the concept back to myself in different words. All very well and good, but ideas that fit into the literature note to help explain the concept, started coming out on screen.
    As these were my ideas from the original content, I was struggling to decide if they were literature notes and therefore belonged in the literature slip box, or permanent notes, and therefore belonged in the “main” slip box.

    Here is my current flow, and involves what was a personal breakthrough (although it may be old hat to others).

    • A literature note for me concerns a single source (book, article, webpage, etc), and I put both my thoughts and quotes there. Since it is a single source and me --- just two entities rather than many more on a non-literature zettel --- it is easy to mark the author's wording using quotation marks when run inline in a paragraph, or as a block quote.
    • The bullet above thus mirrors (I think) what @sfast said since "it is all the same ZK"
    • The breakthrough for me was to create zettels for books I have not read but something very specific is said about them in the books I have read. Thus, now I have a place to park information such as "author A said such and such about book B". Perhaps others have talked about book B as well, and all this information can be together. In this, I am following what I think was meant by Luhmann's remark (in German, I take it, and this may be Ahren's translation; Ahrens 2017, p. 96): ‘Somehow “one has to mark differences, keep track of distinctions, either explicitly or implicitly in concepts”, because ‘only if the connections are somehow fixed externally can they function as models or theories to give meaning and continuity for further thinking.'
    • Finally, a single book may end up with multiple zettels if there are particular passages or topics worth deeper dives, but these literature notes are still about a single source (i.e., I do a one-to-many source-to-note mappings).

    This must happen to others. Do you end up breaking the concept down further until you can separate the concept from the idea? So keep working to smaller atomic notes? I’m not sure I could do this and still keep the original zettel making sense, which goes against the principle of atomicity in my view...

    This (splitting a note for the sake of purity) may be putting the horse before the cart, allowing the tail to wag the dog :) So long as you can clearly tell what are your thoughts and what is the author's phrasing, I think keeping them together should be okay.

    Here is another way of thinking about this. Write the note in full sentences (thereby being kind to your future self) but, furthermore, as if you were writing for an audience, for a publication. Then you would naturally have to clearly mark your commentary separately from the author's precise point (as you interpret it).

    Take all the above with a grain of salt, coming as it does from someone who has been doing this just a few weeks.

  • I am insisting on a more radical wording: There are no literature notes. Just notes that are part of the Zettelkasten and those which are not. :smile:

    @sfast after reading your comment, the thought that came to mind was, ahhhh, "There is no spoon." :)

    (On a side note, this brings up a great reason for publishing your updated book in English. I've
    noticed that many of the the questions regarding the ZKM (here) is surrounded around Ahrens' interpretation and methodology. It will be great to have your published voice as well.)

  • @sfast said:
    I am insisting on a more radical wording: There are no literature notes. Just notes that are part of the Zettelkasten and those which are not. :smile:

    Yes, that is the point which I have reached as well. All the discussion on the forum about various kinds of notes used to confuse me, until I realized that a) there were no clear definitions about them, e.g., different people used the term "structure note" or "literature note" to mean different things, and b) it doesn't matter - a zettel is a zettel is a zettel, period. Now, I just focus on creating zettels, connecting them to other zettels, and seeing what I learn in the process.

  • @Darryl said:
    (On a side note, this brings up a great reason for publishing your updated book in English. I've
    noticed that many of the the questions regarding the ZKM (here) is surrounded around Ahrens' interpretation and methodology. It will be great to have your published voice as well.)

    I hope the second edition will clean things up, too.

    I am a Zettler

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