26 Matching Annotations
  1. Sep 2023
    1. Merchants and traders have a waste book (Sudelbuch, Klitterbuch in GermanI believe) in which they enter daily everything they purchase and sell,messily, without order. From this, it is transferred to their journal, whereeverything appears more systematic, and finally to a ledger, in double entryafter the Italian manner of bookkeeping, where one settles accounts witheach man, once as debtor and then as creditor. This deserves to be imitatedby scholars. First it should be entered in a book in which I record everythingas I see it or as it is given to me in my thoughts; then it may be enteredin another book in which the material is more separated and ordered, andthe ledger might then contain, in an ordered expression, the connectionsand explanations of the material that flow from it. [46]

      —Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Notebook E, #46, 1775–1776


      In this single paragraph quote Lichtenberg, using the model of Italian bookkeepers of the 18th century, broadly outlines almost all of the note taking technique suggested by Sönke Ahrens in How to Take Smart Notes. He's got writing down and keeping fleeting notes as well as literature notes. (Keeping academic references would have been commonplace by this time.) He follows up with rewriting and expanding on the original note to create additional "explanations" and even "connections" (links) to create what Ahrens describes as permanent notes or which some would call evergreen notes.

      Lichtenberg's version calls for the permanent notes to be "separated and ordered" and while he may have kept them in book format himself, it's easy to see from Konrad Gessner's suggestion at the use of slips centuries before, that one could easily put their permanent notes on index cards ("separated") and then number and index or categorize them ("ordered"). The only serious missing piece of Luhmann's version of a zettelkasten then are the ideas of placing related ideas nearby each other, though the idea of creating connections between notes is immediately adjacent to this, and his numbering system, which was broadly based on the popularity of Melvil Dewey's decimal system.

      It may bear noticing that John Locke's indexing system for commonplace books was suggested, originally in French in 1685, and later in English in 1706. Given it's popularity, it's not unlikely that Lichtenberg would have been aware of it.

      Given Lichtenberg's very popular waste books were known to have influenced Leo Tolstoy, Albert Einstein, Andre Breton, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. (Reference: Lichtenberg, Georg Christoph (2000). The Waste Books. New York: New York Review Books Classics. ISBN 978-0940322509.) It would not be hard to imagine that Niklas Luhmann would have also been aware of them.


      Open questions: <br /> - did Lichtenberg number the entries in his own waste books? This would be early evidence toward the practice of numbering notes for future reference. Based on this text, it's obvious that the editor numbered the translated notes for this edition, were they Lichtenberg's numbering? - Is there evidence that Lichtenberg knew of Locke's indexing system? Did his waste books have an index?

  2. Jun 2023
    1. Think of branches not as collections, but rather as conversations

      When a branch starts to build, or prove itself, then ask the question (before indexing): "What is the conversation that is building here?"

      Also related to Sönke Ahrens' maxim of seeking Disconfirming Information to counter Confirmation Bias. By thinking of branches as conversations instead of collectives, you are also more inclined to put disconfirming information within the branch.

  3. May 2023
    1. "[What] I like about the [zettlekasten] system is that it's a constant reminder to to make up your mind and to specify what you what you're thinking."<br /> —Sönke Ahrens, [Tinderbox Meetup - May 7, 2023 00:30:36]

  4. Feb 2023
    1. I have you two sheet boxes I gave up on that I'm using a to buy from a colleague of mine he's written a small program 00:46:58 based on lumen set accustomed but it's a one-man show I mean he's it's not an open-source project but it's the only one that really tries to emulate that system so 00:47:11 I'm using that at the moment

      Ahrens had started out using his method in an analog process using shoe boxes, but in 2018 was using a small program based on Luhmann's process, but it was a one man show and wasn't an open source project.

      (I'm pretty sure this is Daniel Lüdecke's ZKN3, but should double check.)

    1. My program of choice used to be ZKN3 by Daniel Lüdecke, which is free and developed explicitly to emulate the Zettelkasten, but it lacks the flexibility of newer apps. Alternatives of stand-alone Zettelkasten programs include Zettlr and The Archive.Nowadays, I use and value Roam Research, but would probably go with Obsidian if I had to start over today.

      Sönke Ahrens used to use Daniel Lüdecke's ZKN3, but currently uses Roam Research, though he's said he might choose Obsidian if he were starting over again today.

      Link to: https://hypothes.is/a/2XZdmLWhEe2_lg8caDPWMw

  5. Jan 2023
    1. Sanke and others seem to try to integrate GTD (Getting Things Done) into the Zettlekasten, thus making a frankenbaby. Having a frankenbaby of my own I shall throw no stones. But GTD is about making this same decision, and being specific about taking in ideas and deciding what to do with it. Without this self-discipline, self-awareness, neither GTD nor Zettlekasten are useful.

      Example of someone who's also noticed the idea of "zettelkasten overreach" though they call it "frankenbaby".

  6. Oct 2022
    1. Examining the cards, it becomes clear that the index constitutes not a mythic totalhistory but a specific set of facts and data that piqued Deutsch’s interest and whichreflected his personal research priorities (see Figure 2).

      Zettelkasten, if nothing else, are a close reflection of the interests of the author who collected them.

      link: Ahrens mentions this

    1. In "On Intellectual Craftsmanship" (1952), C. Wright Mills talks about his methods for note taking, thinking, and analysis in what he calls "sociological imagination". This is a sociologists' framing of their own research and analysis practice and thus bears a sociological related name. While he talks more about the thinking, outlining, and writing process rather than the mechanical portion of how he takes notes or what he uses, he's extending significantly on the ideas and methods that Sönke Ahrens describes in How to Take Smart Notes (2017), though obviously he's doing it 65 years earlier. It would seem obvious that the specific methods (using either files, note cards, notebooks, etc.) were a bit more commonplace for his time and context, so he spent more of his time on the finer and tougher portions of the note making and thinking processes which are often the more difficult parts once one is past the "easy" mechanics.

      While Mills doesn't delineate the steps or materials of his method of note taking the way Beatrice Webb, Langlois & Seignobos, Johannes Erich Heyde, Antonin Sertillanges, or many others have done before or Umberto Eco, Robert Greene/Ryan Holiday, Sönke Ahrens, or Dan Allosso since, he does focus more on the softer portions of his thinking methods and their desired outcomes and provides personal examples of how it works and what his expected outcomes are. Much like Niklas Luhmann describes in Kommunikation mit Zettelkästen (VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 1981), Mills is focusing on the thinking processes and outcomes, but in a more accessible way and with some additional depth.

      Because the paper is rather short, but specific in its ideas and methods, those who finish the broad strokes of Ahrens' book and methods and find themselves somewhat confused will more than profit from the discussion here in Mills. Those looking for a stronger "crash course" might find that the first seven chapters of Allosso along with this discussion in Mills is a straighter and shorter path.

      While Mills doesn't delineate his specific method in terms of physical tools, he does broadly refer to "files" which can be thought of as a zettelkasten (slip box) or card index traditions. Scant evidence in the piece indicates that he's talking about physical file folders and sheets of paper rather than slips or index cards, but this is generally irrelevant to the broader process of thinking or writing. Once can easily replace the instances of the English word "file" with the German concept of zettelkasten and not be confused.

      One will note that this paper was written as a manuscript in April 1952 and was later distributed for classroom use in 1955, meaning that some of these methods were being distributed from professor to students. The piece was later revised and included as an appendix to Mill's text The Sociological Imagination which was first published in 1959.

      Because there aren't specifics about Mills' note structure indicated here, we can't determine if his system was like that of Niklas Luhmann, but given the historical record one could suppose that it was closer to the commonplace tradition using slips or sheets. One thing becomes more clear however that between the popularity of Webb's work and this (which was reprinted in 2000 with a 40th anniversary edition), these methods were widespread in the mid-twentieth century and specifically in the field of sociology.

      Above and beyond most of these sorts of treatises on note taking method, Mills does spend more time on the thinking portions of the practice and delineates eleven different practices that one can focus on as they actively read/think and take notes as well as afterwards for creating content or writing.


      My full notes on the article can be found at https://jonudell.info/h/facet/?user=chrisaldrich&max=100&exactTagSearch=true&expanded=true&addQuoteContext=true&url=urn%3Ax-pdf%3A0138200b4bfcde2757a137d61cd65cb8

  7. Sep 2022
    1. Students' annotations canprompt first draft thinking, avoiding a blank page when writing andreassuring students that they have captured the critical informationabout the main argument from the reading.

      While annotations may prove "first draft thinking", why couldn't they provide the actual thinking and direct writing which moves toward the final product? This is the sort of approach seen in historical commonplace book methods, zettelkasten methods, and certainly in Niklas Luhmann's zettelkasten incarnation as delineated by Johannes Schmidt or variations described by Sönke Ahrens (2017) or Dan Allosso (2022)? Other similar variations can be seen in the work of Umberto Eco (MIT, 2015) and Gerald Weinberg (Dorset House, 2005).

      Also potentially useful background here: Blair, Ann M. Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age. Yale University Press, 2010. https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300165395/too-much-know

  8. Aug 2022
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o49C8jQIsvs

      Video about the Double-Bubble Map: https://youtu.be/Hm4En13TDjs

      The double-bubble map is a tool for thought for comparing and contrasting ideas. Albert Rosenberg indicates that construction of opposites is one of the most reliable ways for generating ideas. (35:50)

      Bluma Zeigarnik - open tasks tend to occupy short-term memory.

      I love his compounding interest graphic with the steps moving up to the right with the quote: "Even groundbreaking paradigm shifts are most often the consequence of many small moves in the right direction instead of one big idea." This could be an awesome t-shirt or motivational poster.

      Watched this up to about 36 minutes on 2022-08-10 and finished on 2022-08-22.

  9. Jul 2022
    1. My new friend Scott Scheper is pretty direct with his argument that "Ahrensian" note-taking is NOT what Luhmann did.

      Compare and contrast these two practices.

      Do we have enough data about the early portions of Luhmann's process to indicate this? Similarly for the final portion of creation (outlining and plugging in ideas).

  10. Jun 2022
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxfTVdohSwA

      Christine Moskell talks about a professor's final exam design prompting students to go back to annotations and add new commentary (or links to other related knowledge) that they've gained during the length of a course.


      Link to:

      This is very similar to the sort of sensemaking and interlinking of information that Sönke Ahrens outlines in his book How to Take Smart Notes though his broader note taking thesis goes a few additional steps for more broadly synthesizing ideas into longer papers, articles, theses, and books.

      Dr. Moskell also outlined a similar tactic at the [[Hypothesis Social Learning Summit - Spotlight on Social Reading & Social Annotation]] earlier today, though that video may not be accessible for a bit.

      Cross reference: https://web.hypothes.is/event/social-learning-summit-spotlight-on-social-reading-social-annotation/

      How can we better center and model these educational practices in our pedagogies?

    1. ZK II: Note 9/8 9/8 Zettelkasten 1 as a cybernetic system Combination of disorder and order, of lump formation and unpredictable combination realized in ad hoc access. Precondition: waiver of fixed order. The upstream differentiation: search aids vs. content; Registers, questions, ideas vs. Existing forms and partly makes superfluous what must be assumed in terms of inner order .

      Niklas Luhmann thought of the zettelkasten as a cybernetic system.

      He considers a precondition of its creation is that it ought to waive any "fixed order", allow for search, and the asking of questions.


      There are only the outlines of brief and scant thoughts here however, which would have required significant amounts of additional context not contained on the card. As a result one would require additional underpinning to understand what Luhmann means here as the card definitively couldn't have been directly or easily reused for future writing beyond the basic sketch outline he provides. What proportion of cards have brief thought sketches like this versus more fully thought out and directly reusable ideas within his system? Does Schmidt provide any guidance here without reading portions of the larger corpus? How does this differ from the guidance of Ahrens?

      (Translation from German to English via Google)

  11. May 2022
    1. Don't worry, Niklas Luhmann never 'got' the whole evergreen vs. fleeting notes thing either. They're Ahrensian inventions. They're not Zettelkasten concepts, they're Ahrenskasten concepts.

      Ahrens uses the phrase permanent notes and never uses the words evergreen notes. Evergreen notes stems from Andy Matuschak's reading of Ahrens, likely with a side reference to the idea of evergreen articles which is a closely related commonplace idea in journalism.

      The difference between the permanent(evergreen) and fleeting comes from where one chooses to put the actual work into their system. One can collect thousands of fleeting notes in their system, but it's more likely that it will eventually collapse on itself and do the author no good. Better is to put as much work in up front to get to a good permanent note that is reusable in potentially many contexts.

      Much of this stems back at least as far as Vincentius Placcius in De Arte Excerpendi: Of Scholarly Book Organization (1689) where he offers a contemporary set of instructions on excerpting knowledge from books as well as a history of the subject of note taking. In the book, he warns specifically against the practice exhibited by Joachim Jungius (1585-1657) who left behind approximately 150,000 slips (or scraps) of paper (zettels). Because there was no index to it or links between the notes Jungius' collection was ostensibly useless following his death. His scraps were literally a "scrap heap".

    1. Luhmann realised his note-taking was not leadinganywhere. So he turned note-taking on its head.

      Here Ahrens doesn't say that Luhmann invented the zettelkasten, but he comes pretty close and is heavily implying it rather than delving into the ways which Luhmann may have been taught this practice.

  12. Mar 2022
    1. but i i think the first couple of hundred notes are more like a collection and you look 00:34:29 for um connections and there are some but you remember them because yes the amount where it's where it doesn't surprise you 00:34:43 uh it's more you know where they are and i think the from 500 on um there's a shift um and then you need to uh figure out how to um 00:34:58 find them again so the index or some kind of system becomes more important and i think a couple of thousand notes and uh you're 00:35:12 automatically turning to your set of custom [Music] as the place where you will likely find some kind of connection

      Q: How many permanent notes did it take before you felt you had a communication partner?


      Sönke Ahrens has indicated that the first couple hundred notes are more of a static collection. Then from five hundred notes onward there is a shift and having an index becomes more important. It's only at about one thousand notes that one begins automatically turning to the zettelkasten to find connections. Perhaps it's at this point that the tool begins to look like a communication partner.


      link this to the few other examples from others.

    2. i knew that that this is that might be different but no i of course you you don't connect it 00:27:44 that much with your own book it's more about that you see the idea and the idea is lumens idea and you're trying to describe it as good as possible

      Even Sönke Ahrens has indirectly attributed the idea of the zettelkasten directly to Niklas Luhmann.

      2022-03-24

    3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MO7-wEc5dnc

      Quit watching at around 1:40:00 where it devolved into a love fest for the club itself.

  13. Feb 2022
    1. Steven Johnson indicates that the word processor is a terrible tool for writing because it doesn't have usable affordances for building up longer pieces from one's notes or basic ideas.

      He discusses his specific workflow of note taking and keeping ideas in Scrivener where he arranges them into folders and outlines which then become the source of his writing.

      Different from the typical zettelkasten workflow, he's keeping his notes hierarchically organized in folders based on topic keywords and only later when creating a specific writing project making explicit links and orders between his notes to create longer pieces. It's here that his work diverges most dramatically to the zettelkasten method described by Sönke Ahrens.

    2. In the research phase, you’re just creating a disorganized pile of cards, with quotes, ideas, links, fragments, hunches. There’s no order, no sequence; just a non-linear collection of vaguely related ideas. But as the project takes shape, certain themes begin to emerge, and those become folders housing other cards. Eventually those themes start to map onto actual sections of the book, or individual chapters. At this point, sequence does begin to matter, but you can change the sequence just by dragging cards and folders around in the left hand outline view.

      Example of writing advice that builds the links in after-the-fact instead of cross-linking ideas into initial networks as they're finding them. Compare/contrast this to the creation of these networks in the zettelkasten tradition as well as Sönke Ahrens description.

      There's less upfront work in creating these links at the start than there is in reloading the context in one's brain to create these links after the fact. Collecting ideas without filing, linking, or organizing them upfront also means that one is more likely to only use these ideas in the context of specific projects which one already has in mind rather than keeping them for a lifetime's work which might also create generative projects one hadn't expected.

    1. In the early chapters Ahrens outlines the general form and method for taking notes for a zettelkasten, though he's not overly descriptive of the method and provides no direct examples.

      In the middle chapters he talks broadly about learning research and how the zettelkasten method dovetails with these methods.

      He does this almost as if he's a good teacher showing the student an outline of what to do and why, but leaving it up to them to actually do the work and experimentation to come up with their own specific methods of use to best suit their purposes. This allows them to do the work themselves so that they have a better chance of following a simple, but easy set of rules, but in a way that will allow them to potentially more quickly become an expert at the practice.

      “The one who does the work does the learning,” writes Doyle (2008, 63) [Section 10.5]

      In some sense, he's actively practicing what he preaches as a teaching device within his own book!

      I think that this point may be actively missed by those readers who aren't actively engaging with and converting his ideas into their own and doing the work which he's actively suggesting.