24 Matching Annotations
  1. Oct 2022
    1. Cattell, J. McKeen. “Methods for a Card Index.” Science 10, no. 247 (1899): 419–20.

      Columbia professor of psychology calls for the creation of a card index of references to reviews and abstracts for areas of research. Columbia was apparently doing this in 1899 for the psychology department.

      What happened to this effort? How similar was it to the system of advertising cards for books in Germany in the early 1930s described by Heyde?

    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

  2. Sep 2022
    1. Heyde, Johannes Erich. Technik des wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens. (Sektion 1.2 Die Kartei) Junker und Dünnhaupt, 1931.

      (Unknown translation from German into English. v1 TK)

      The overall title of the work (in English: Technique of Scientific Work) calls immediately to mind the tradition of note taking growing out of the scientific historical methods work of Bernheim and Langlois/Seignobos and even more specifically the description of note taking by Beatrice Webb (1926) who explicitly used the phrase "recipe for scientific note-taking".

      see: https://hypothes.is/a/BFWG2Ae1Ee2W1HM7oNTlYg

      first reading: 2022-08-23 second reading: 2022-09-22

    2. If a more extensive note has been put on several A6 sheets subsequently,

      Heydes Overbearing System

      Heyde's method spends almost a full page talking about what to do if one extends a note or writes longer notes. He talks about using larger sheets of paper, carbon copies, folding, dating, clipping, and even stapling.

      His method seems to skip the idea of extending a particular card of potentially 2 or more "twins"/"triplets"/"quadruplets" which might then also need to be extended too. Luhmann probably had a logical problem with this as tracking down all the originals and extending them would be incredibly problematic. As a result, he instead opted to put each card behind it's closest similar idea (and number it thus).

      If anything, Heyde's described method is one of the most complete of it's day (compare with Bernheim, Langlois/Seignobos, Webb, Sertillanges, et al.) He discusses a variety of pros and cons, hints and tips, but he also goes deeper into some of the potential flaws and pitfalls for the practicing academic. As a result, many of the flaws he discusses and their potential work arounds (making multiple carbon copies, extending notes, etc.) add to the bulk of the description of the system and make it seem almost painful and overbearing for the affordances it allows. As a result, those reading it with a small amount of knowledge of similar traditions may have felt that there might be a better or easier system. I suspect that Niklas Luhmann was probably one of these.

      It's also likely that due to these potentially increasing complexities in such note taking systems that they became to large and unwieldly for people to see the benefit in using. Combined with the emergence of the computer from this same time forward, it's likely that this time period was the beginning of the end for such analog systems and experimenting with them.

    3. Who can say whether I will actually be searchingfor e.g. the note on the relation between freedom of will and responsibility by looking at itunder the keyword “Verantwortlichkeit” [Responsibility]? What if, as is only natural, I willbe unable to remember the keyword and instead search for “Willensfreiheit” [Freedom ofWill] or “Freiheit” [Freedom], hoping to find the entry? This seems to be the biggestcomplaint about the entire system of the sheet box and its merit.

      Heyde specifically highlights that planning for one's future search efforts by choosing the right keyword or even multiple keywords "seems to be the biggest complaint about the entire system of the slip box and its merit."

      Niklas Luhmann apparently spent some time thinking about this, or perhaps even practicing it, before changing his system so that the issue was no longer a problem. As a result, Luhmann's system is much simpler to use and maintain.

      Given his primary use of his slip box for academic research and writing, perhaps his solution was in part motivated by putting the notes and ideas exactly where he would both be able to easily find them, but also exactly where he would need them for creating final products in journal articles and books.

    4. The rigidness and immobility of the note book pages, based on the papern stamp andimmobility of the individual notes, prevents quick and time-saving retrieval and applicationof the content and therefore proves the note book process to be inappropriate. The only tworeasons that this process is still commonly found in the studies of many is that firstly they donot know any better, and that secondly a total immersion into a very specialized field ofscientific research often makes information retrieval easier if not unnecessary.

      Just like Heyde indicated about the slip box note taking system with respect to traditional notebook based systems in 1931, one of the reasons we still aren't broadly using Heyde's system is that we "do not know any better". This is compounded with the fact that the computer revolution makes information retrieval much easier than it had been before. However there is such an information glut and limitations to search, particularly if it's stored in multiple places, that it may be advisable to go back to some of these older, well-tried methods.

      Link to ideas of "single source" of notes as opposed to multiple storage locations as is seen in social media spaces in the 2010-2020s.

    1. Niklas Luhmann read a secret, little-known German book in early 1951 which formed the foundation for his Zettelkasten.

      According to Scott Scheper's conversation with Clemens Luhmann, Niklas' son, Niklas Luhmann read Heyde (1931) in 1951. He would have been 24 years old and just out of law school at the University of Freiburg (1946-1949) and starting into a career in public administration in Lüneburg. (It would have been before he went to Harvard in 1961 and before he left the civil service in 1962. (Wikipedia entry for dates here)

  3. Aug 2022
    1. At first glance, Luhmann's alphanumeric system—sometimes referred to as "folgezettel"1—appears to be a way of structuring an outline of specific arguments within one's stack of notes.

      Luhmann's folgezettel (sequence of notes) may not quite be an outline, but I'm begining to suspect that Luhmann used the idea of an outline or a table of contents to structure his note making practice.

      While he may have gotten it elsewhere, we know he read Heyde's instructions as (at least one of his) source(s). Heyde's table of contents (the 1970's version at least, we'll need to double check the 1930's versions) is highly suggestive, both in form, structure, and even numbering of the same set up in Luhmann's zettelkasten.

      It's likely that Luhmann was attempting to get around all the additional copying and filing work suggested in Heyde.

    1. The smaller A6 format, hardlybigger than an ordinary note book sheet, makes it easy everywhere to take short notes forlater sheetification, no matter if one is in a reading room, the tramway or on a train. This is aparticularly valuable characteristic of it!

      The values of A6!

      Heyde is putting more thought into the size of note paper than I've seen in much of the literature. Did Linnaeus have similar thoughts?

    2. This system has spread all over mercantile book-keeping and even in administrations. Nowits principles should be transferred to the scientific realm as well!

      A bold statement!!!

      Was this Heye's innovation? How much and to what extent beyond earlier ties of note taking and accounting?

    1. taurusnoises · 11 hr. ago · edited 11 hr. agoObsidianMy guess is that, like every one else, Luhmann had an array of both conscious and subconscious influences. That said, the great bulk of Luhmann's system can be found in the book I mentioned above. Right down to the diagrams and illustrations of the cards."If the Zettelkasten, used in many ways, gradually becomes a constantly growing reservoir of foreign and personal ideas, then its careful user will, often enough, and with deep focus into certain special areas from this occupation, have independent scientific achievement. At least he will be sufficiently familiar with individual questions in one of his subjects and will be able to look forward to the moment when he is about to complete a specifically formulated written examination paper within a given period of time without the oppressive feeling of insecurity." (1931, Heyde, pardon the rough trans.)Sound familiar?Also, who are the intellectual historians you're referring to here?

      I'm the first intellectual historian in line on this one, but there are certainly others. :) I haven't seen anything from Schmidt on this niche sub-topic, but I would suspect those in his group are highly curious about these specifics.

      I've been reading portions of Heyde, but I'm not seeing anything new, innovative, or exciting in his suggestions that hadn't broadly existed in the prior literature for a century or more, though he does go into more depth on various areas than others before him. In fact, Heyde suggests making multiple copies of one's notes to file under a variety of commonplace subject headings, a practice which we specifically don't see Luhmann doing. The vast majority of the Zettelkasten space up until this time and even since is simply the commonplace book tradition using index cards instead of notebooks. Luhmann was doing several things subtly different than this prior tradition. Whether they are really important or not at scale really remains to be seen. It's reasonably obvious based on what I've seen thus far that he was following Heyde (and other precursors) in spirit, but definitely not in the "letter of the 'law'". There are very subtle pieces of Heyde which are uniquely and intriguingly suggestive of why Luhmann's practice was different than others, but the average reader is not likely to see them.

      My German is dreadful at best, so I'll refrain from commenting further on specifics until I've seen a better/full translation in English. I'm definitely curious to hear the thoughts of others who've translated/read it.

    2. ManuelRodriguez331 · 8 hr. agotaurusnoises wrote on Aug 20, 2022: Technik des Wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens by Johannes Erich HeydeThe idea of grouping similar notes together with the help of index cards was mainstream knowledge in the 1920'er. Melvil Dewey has invented the decimal classification in 1876 and it was applied to libraries and personal note taking as well.quote: “because for every note there is a systematically related one in the immediate vicinity. [...] A good, scholarly book can grow out of the mere collection of notes — not an ingenious one, indeed" [1]The single cause why it wasn't applied more frequently was because of the limitation of the printing press. In the year 1900 only 100 scholarly journals were available in the world. There was no need to write more manuscripts and teach the art of Scientific Writing to a larger audience.[1] Kuntze, Friedrich: Die Technik der geistigen Arbeit, 1922

      reply to: https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/wrytqj/comment/ilax9tc/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

      Index card systems were insanely popular in the early 1900's for note taking and uses of all other sorts (business administration, libraries, etc.). The note taking tradition of the slip box goes back even further in intellectual history with precedents including miscellanies, commonplace books, and florilegia. Konrad Gessner may have been one of the first to have created a method using slips of rearrangeable paper in the 1500s, but this general pattern of excerpting, note taking and writing goes back to antiquity with the concept of locus communis (Latin) and tópos koinós (Greek).

      What some intellectual historians are hoping for evidence of in this particular source is a possible origin of the idea of the increased complexity of direct links from one card to another as well as the juxtaposition of ideas which build on each other. Did Luhmann innovate this himself or was this something he read or was in general practice which he picked up? Most examples of zettelkasten outside of Luhmann's until those in the present, could be described reasonably accurately as commonplace books on index cards usually arranged by topic/subject heading/head word (with or without internal indices).

      Perhaps it was Luhmann's familiarity with Aktenzeichen (German administrative "file numbers") prior to his academic work which inspired the dramatically different form his index card-based commonplace took? See: https://hyp.is/CqGhGvchEey6heekrEJ9WA/www.wikiwand.com/de/Aktenzeichen_(Deutschland)

      Is it possible that he was influenced by Beatrice Webb's ideas on note taking from Appendix C of My Apprenticeship (1924) which was widely influential in the humanities and particularly sociology and anthropology? Would he have been aware of the work of historians Ernst Bernheim followed by Charles Victor Langlois and Charles Seignobos? (see: https://hypothes.is/a/DLP52hqFEe2nrIMdrd4U7g) Did Luhmann's law studies expose him to the work of jurist Johann Jacob Moser (1701-1785) who wrote about his practice in his autobiography and subsequently influenced generations of practitioners including Jean Paul and potentially Hegel?

      There are obviously lots of unanswered questions...

    3. Technik des Wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens by Johannes Erich Heyde

      Technik des Wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens by Johannes Erich Heyde is potentially the book in which Niklas Luhmann learned/modeled his zettelkasten after.

    1. What edition of this book did Luhmann have/use?

      His edition will establish a potential lower threshold for the point in his life at which he used it (ie college, law school, other).

      What differences are there between the edition I've read portions of and this 10th edition exist? Did Luhmann's edition have this same outline/contents page in this form? Does my analysis still stand if this changes?

    2. 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.

    3. Heyde, Johannes Erich, and Heinz Siegel. Technik des wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens (Inhalt). 10th ed. Berlin: Kiepert, 1970. oclc/1075391218

      The table of contents of the 1970 10th Edition

      A later edition of the text from which Niklas Luhmann ostensibly learned the methods behind his zettelkasten.

    1. By the earlytwentieth century advice manuals on research methods recommended takingnotes on index cards.141

      Here Blair quotes Chavigny and Heyde, but crucially leaves out Bernheim, Langlois & Seignobos, and Beatrice Webb.

      Check the others, specifically for index card references, but Webb uses slips or sheets (and often larger ones).

    2. Heyde, Johannes Erich. 1931. Technik des wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens. Zeitgemässe Mittelund Verfahrensweisen: Eine Anleitung, besonders für Studierende, 3rd ed. Berlin: Junkerund Dünhaupt.

      A manual on note taking practice that Blair quotes along with Paul Chavigny as being influential in the early 21st century.

    1. Technik des wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens by Johannes Erich Heyde( Book )29 editions published between 1931 and 1970 in 3 languages and held by 197 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
    2. Technik des Wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens. Eine anleitung, besonders für Studierende, mit Ausführlichem Schriftenverzeichnis by Johannes Erich Heyde( Book )25 editions published between 1933 and 1951 in German and Undetermined and held by 114 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
    3. Technik des wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens; eine Anleitung, besonders für Studierende by Johannes Erich Heyde( Book )32 editions published between 1931 and 1951 in German and held by 179 WorldCat member libraries worldwide