10 Matching Annotations
  1. Sep 2022
    1. It is obvious that due to this strict logic foundation, related thoughts will not be scattered allover the box but grouped together in proximity. As a consequence, completely withoutcarbon-copying all note sheets only need to be created once.

      In a break from the more traditional subject heading filing system of many commonplacing and zettelkasten methods, in addition to this sort of scheme Heyde also suggests potentially using the Dewey Decimal System for organizing one's knowledge.

      While Luhmann doesn't use Dewey's system, he does follow the broader advice which allows creating a dense numbering system though he does use a different numbering scheme.

    2. The layout and use of the sheet box, as described so far, is eventually founded upon thealphabetical structure of it. It should also be mentioned though

      that the sheetification can also be done based on other principles.

      Heyde specifically calls the reader to consider other methods in general and points out the Dewey Decimal Classification system as a possibility. This suggestion also may have prompted Luhmann to do some evolutionary work for his own needs.

  2. Aug 2022
    1. While Heyde outlines using keywords/subject headings and dates on the bottom of cards with multiple copies using carbon paper, we're left with the question of where Luhmann pulled his particular non-topical ordering as well as his numbering scheme.

      While it's highly likely that Luhmann would have been familiar with the German practice of Aktenzeichen ("file numbers") and may have gotten some interesting ideas about organization from the closing sections of the "Die Kartei" section 1.2 of the book, which discusses library organization and the Dewey Decimal system, we're still left with the bigger question of organization.

      It's obvious that Luhmann didn't follow the heavy use of subject headings nor the advice about multiple copies of cards in various portions of an alphabetical index.

      While the Dewey Decimal System set up described is indicative of some of the numbering practices, it doesn't get us the entirety of his numbering system and practice.

      One need only take a look at the Inhalt (table of contents) of Heyde's book! The outline portion of the contents displays a very traditional branching tree structure of ideas. Further, the outline is very specifically and similarly numbered to that of Luhmann's zettelkasten. This structure and numbering system is highly suggestive of branching ideas where each branch builds on the ideas immediately above it or on the ideas at the next section above that level.

      Just as one can add an infinite number of books into the Dewey Decimal system in a way that similar ideas are relatively close together to provide serendipity for both search and idea development, one can continue adding ideas to this branching structure so they're near their colleagues.

      Thus it's highly possible that the confluence of descriptions with the book and the outline of the table of contents itself suggested a better method of note keeping to Luhmann. Doing this solves the issue of needing to create multiple copies of note cards as well as trying to find cards in various places throughout the overall collection, not to mention slimming down the collection immensely. Searching for and finding a place to put new cards ensures not only that one places one's ideas into a growing logical structure, but it also ensures that one doesn't duplicate information that may already exist within one's over-arching outline. From an indexing perspective, it also solves the problem of cross referencing information along the axes of the source author, source title, and a large variety of potential subject headings.

      And of course if we add even a soupcon of domain expertise in systems theory to the mix...

      While thinking about Aktenzeichen, keep in mind that it was used in German public administration since at least 1934, only a few years following Heyde's first edition, but would have been more heavily used by the late 1940's when Luhmann would have begun his law studies.


      When thinking about taking notes for creating output, one can follow one thought with another logically both within one's card index not only to write an actual paper, but the collection and development happens the same way one is filling in an invisible outline which builds itself over time.

      Linking different ideas to other ideas separate from one chain of thought also provides the ability to create multiple of these invisible, but organically growing outlines.

    1. This note sheetwould now be placed into the box in the area responding to an intial 6, e.g. after 620, andbefore the notes beginning with 700 (which usually is just written as 7 to preventmisunderstanding).

      Portions of Dewey's system as described here can definitely be seen in Luhmann's system in which he left some of the preceding numbers unwritten/unstated.

  3. Jul 2022
    1. Because I wanted to make use of a unified version of the overall universe of knowledge as a structural framework, I ended up using the Outline of Knowledge (OoK) in the Propædia volume that was part of Encyclopedia Britannica 15th edition, first published 1974, the final version of which (2010) is archived at -- where else? -- the Internet Archive.

      The Outline of Knowledge appears in the Propædia volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica. It is similar to various olther classification systems like the Dewey Decimal system or the Universal Decimal Classification.

    1. https://niklas-luhmann-archiv.de/bestand/zettelkasten/zettel/ZK_2_SW1_001_V

      One may notice that Niklas Luhmann's index within his zettelkasten is fantastically sparce. By this we might look at the index entry for "system" which links to only one card. For someone who spent a large portion of his life researching systems theory, this may seem fantastically bizarre.

      However, it's not as as odd as one may think given the structure of his particular zettelkasten. The single reference gives an initial foothold into his slip box where shuffling through cards beyond that idea will reveal a number of cards closely related to the topic which subsequently follow it. Regular use and work with the system would have allowed Luhmann better memory with respect to its contents and the searching through threads of thought would have potentially sparked new ideas and threads. Thus he didn't need to spend the time and effort to highly index each individual card, he just needed a starting place and could follow the links from there. This tends to minimize the indexing work he needed to do regularly, but simultaneously makes it harder for the modern person who may wish to read or consult those notes.

      Some of the difference here is the idea of top-down versus bottom-up construction. While thousands of his cards may have been tagged as "systems" or "systems theory", over time and with increased scale they would have become nearly useless as a construct. Instead, one may consider increasing levels of sub-topics, but these too may be generally useless with respect to (manual) search, so the better option is to only look at the smallest level of link (and/or their titles) which is only likely to link to 3-4 other locations outside of the card just before it. This greater specificity scales better over time on the part of the individual user who is broadly familiar with the system.

      Alternatively, for those in shared digital spaces who may maintain public facing (potentially shared) notes (zettelkasten), such sparse indices may not be as functional for the readers of such notes. New readers entering such material generally without context, will feel lost or befuddled that they may need to read hundreds of cards to find and explore the sorts of ideas they're actively looking for. In these cases, more extensive indices, digital search, and improved user interfaces may be required to help new readers find their way into the corpus of another's notes.

      Another related idea to that of digital, public, shared notes, is shared taxonomies. What sorts of word or words would one want to search for broadly to find the appropriate places? Certainly widely used systems like the Dewey Decimal System or the Universal Decimal Classification may be helpful for broadly crosslinking across systems, but this will take an additional level of work on the individual publishers.

      Is or isn't it worthwhile to do this in practice? Is this make-work? Perhaps not in analog spaces, but what about the affordances in digital spaces which are generally more easily searched as a corpus.

      As an experiment, attempt to explore Luhmann's Zettelkasten via an entryway into the index. Compare and contrast this with Andy Matuschak's notes which have some clever cross linking UI at the bottoms of the notes, but which are missing simple search functionality and have no tagging/indexing at all. Similarly look at W. Ross Ashby's system (both analog and digitized) and explore the different affordances of these two which are separately designed structures---the analog by Ashby himself, but the digital one by an institution after his death.

    1. https://udcsummary.info/php/index.php?lang=en

      Interesting defined vocabulary and concatenation/auxiliary signs for putting ideas into proximity.

      Could be useful for note taking. Probably much harder to get people to adopt this sort of thing with shared notes/note taking however.

      Somewhat similar to the Dewey Decimal classification system.

  4. Jun 2022
    1. Simply stated, Luhmann’s Zettelkasten structure was not dynamic or fluid in nature. Yet, it was not rigid, either. Examples of a rigid structure are classification systems like the Dewey Decimal Classification System or Paul Otlet’s massive notecard world museum known as, The Mundaneum. These types of systems are helpful for interpersonal knowledge systems; however, they’re not illustrative of what Niklas Luhmann’s system was: an intrapersonal communication system. Luhmann’s notebox system was not logically and neatly organized to allow for the convenience of the public to access. Nor was it meant to be. It seemed chaotic to those who perused its contents other than its creator, Niklas Luhmann. One researcher who studied Luhmann’s system in person says, “at first glance, Luhmann’s organization of his collection appears to lack any clear order; it even seems chaotic. However, this was a deliberate choice.” (11)11 Luhmann’s Zettelkasten was not a structure that could be characterized as one of order. Indeed, it seems closer to that of chaos than order.

      This seems illustrative of the idea that some of the most interesting things in life or living systems exist at the chaotic borders.

      There seem to be differences between more rigid structures like the Dewey Decimal Classification system or Paul Otlet's Mundaneum and less rigid branching systems like Luhmann's version of his zettelkasten. Is this really a difference or only a seeming difference given the standardization some of the systems. There should be a way to do both. Maybe it's by the emergence of public standards, or perhaps it's simply through the use of subject headings and the cross linking of emerging folksonomies.

      What does the use of platforms like the Federated Wiki or the early blogosphere and linking and discovery methods enabled by Technorati indicate?

      Luhmann's system may seem intrapersonal, perhaps as a result of the numbering system, but it becomes highly penetrable by the subject index and the links from one idea (card) to the next. Use over time makes it even easier.

  5. Aug 2021