167 Matching Annotations
  1. Nov 2023
    1. taking in sociological investigation

      The simplest and most direct way of bringing home to the reader the truth of this dogmatic assertion of the scientific value of note-taking in sociological investigation...

      Beatrice Webb indicates that it is an incontrovertible truth that sociologists should use a card index (zettelkasten) as a primary tool in their research.

      We ought to closely notice that she wrote this truism about the field of sociology in a book published in 1926, the year prior to Niklas Luhmann's <s>death</s> birth.

      How popular was her book with respect to the remainder of the field of sociology subsequently? What other sociology texts may have had similar ideas? Webb obviously quotes some of this technique in the late 1800s as being popular within the area of history. How evenly was it spread across the humanities in general?

      Is Beatrice Webb's card index amongst her papers? Where might they be stored today?

    1. @DrMaddy101 @DrMaddy101 @DrMaddy101 1 month ago hey, thanks for your input - you sound like an advanced Zettelkasten-er. Any recommendations for those that want the full version? Show less Read more 0 Like 0 Dislike Reply    @DrMaddy101   @DrMaddy101  0/ Cancel Reply   Add a reply... @jsnyrty3917 1 month ago  @DrMaddy101  not advanced simply used primary sources and secondary sources like Scott Scheper’s youtube channel which explains it accurately.

      reply to @DrMaddy101 and jsnyrty3917 at #

      I would recommend caution here as Scheper approaches the subject like a cult, which it patently is not. He also has the tendency to gatekeep, gaslight others, and create a toxic environment. He's selling you something, and he's being rude about it at the same time. Even though he attempts to maintain something closely akin to Luhmann's practice, his poorly edited book distinctly suggests some very non-Luhmann-esque practices. The zettelkasten tradition is much richer and deeper than the surface level discussion of Luhmann. Using him as your only model is perforce going to be tremendously limiting. You'll find additional excellent (and even some more productive) examplars hiding in the works of Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, Seneca, Boethius, Thomas Aquinas, Desiderius Erasmus, Rodolphus Agricola, Philip Melancthon, Konrad Gessner, John Locke, Carl Linnaeus, Thomas Harrison, Vincentius Placcius, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, S. D. Goitein, Gotthard Deutsch, Beatrice Webb, Sir James Murray, Marcel Mauss, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Mortimer J. Adler, Niklas Luhmann, Roland Barthes, Umberto Eco, Jacques Barzun, Vladimir Nabokov, George Carlin, Twyla Tharp, Gertrud Bauer, and even Eminem. We really need to put an end to the "Cult of Luhmann" philosophy which is going around.

  2. Oct 2023
    1. Nein. Ich habe den Zettelkasten aus der simplen Überlegung her-aus angefangen, daß ich ein schlechtes Gedächtnis habe. Zunächsteinmal hatte ich Zettel in Bücher gelegt, auf die ich mir Notizenmachte, auf diese Weise gingen die Einbände der Bücher kaputt.Dann habe ich mir mit Mappen geholfen, als die jedoch dickerwurden, fand ich nichts mehr in ihnen. Ab 1952 oder 1953 begannich dann mit meinem Zettelkasten, weil mir klar wurde, daß ich fürein Leben planen müsse und nicht für ein Buch.

      Machine translation:

      No. I started the Zettelkasten out of the simple thought that I have a bad memory. First of all, I put pieces of paper in books on which I wrote notes, so the covers of the books got ruined. Then I helped myself with folders, but when they got thicker I couldn't find anything in them. In 1952 or 1953, I started my Zettelkasten because I realized that I had to plan for a life and not for a book.

      There's some missing interstitial space here about how precisely he came to it outside of the general motivation for the thing in general.

      52/53 would have been after law school and in his administrative days and before his trip to Harvard in 61.

    2. — Ich muß Ihnen sagen, daß ich nie etwas erzwinge, ich tueimmer nur das, was mir leichtfällt. Ich schreibe nur dann, wenn ich

      sofort weiß, wie es geht. Wenn ich einen Moment stocke, lege ich die Sache beiseite und mache etwas anderes.

      Was machen Sie dann'?

      Na, andere Bücher schreiben. Ich arbeite immer gleichzeitig an mehreren verschiedenen Texten. Mit dieser Methode, immer an mehreren Dingen zu arbeiten, habe ich nie Blockierungen.

      Rough translation:

      — I have to tell you: I never force anything, I only do what comes easy to me. I only write when I immediately know how to do it. If I falter for a moment, I put the matter aside and do something else.

      (Interviewer): What do you do then?

      Well, write other books. I always work on several different texts at the same time. With this method of always working on multiple things, I never have any blockages.

    3. Im wesentlichen eigene Gedanken, manchmal auch Zitate, aber dasgeschieht ganz selten

      Luhmann indicates that most of his zettelkasten notes are his own thoughts, but some are quotes, which he uses rarely.

    4. Viel gelesen und vor allen Dingen begonnen, mit einem Zettelka-sten zu arbeiten, also Zettel vollgeschrieben. In den Zetteln habeich die Literatur, mit der ich mich vorwiegend beschäftigte, verar-beitet, also Soziologie und Philosophie. Damals habe ich vor allemDescartes und Husserl gelesen. In der soziologischen Theorie hatmich der frühe Funktionalismus beschäftigt, die Theorien von Mali-nowski und Radcliffe-Brown; dies schloß ein, daß ich mich auchsehr stark mit Kulturanthropologie und Ethnologie befaßte

      With heavy early interest in anthropology, sociology and philosophy including Malinowski, it's more likely that Luhmann would have been trained in historical methods which included the traditions of note taking using card indices of that time.

    5. "Biographie, Attitüden, Zettelkasten" ist unter dem Titel "Der Zettelkasten kostet michmehr Zeit als das Bücherschreiben" in der Frankfurter Rundschau am Samxtag, den27. April 1985, S. ZB 3 gekürzt erschienen.

      "Biography, Attitudes, Zettelkasten" was published under the title "The Zettelkasten costs me more time than writing books" in the Frankfurter Rundschau on Saturday, April 27, 1985, p. ZB 3, abridged.

    6. Luhmann, Niklas. Archimedes und wir: Interviews. Berlin: Merve Verlag, 1987.

    1. Father emptied a card le for Margot and me and lled it withindex cards that are blank on one side. This is to become ourreading le, in which Margot and I are supposed to note down thebooks we’ve read, the author and the date.

      Anne Frank (June 12, 1929-1945)<br /> Niklas Luhmann (December 8, 1927-1998)

      Niklas Luhmann was a year and a half older than Anne Frank who received her first card index file in February 1943 (likely between the 27th, the date of her diary entry mentioning it and the prior diary entry on February 5th), from her father at the age of 13. She was intended to use it as a "reading file" to note down the books she'd read along with the author and the date.

      One can only wonder at how many entries she would have made over the span of her life had it not come to such an abrupt end.

  3. Sep 2023
    1. I should perhaps also note that I try, whenever possible, not to collect raw quotes or information simply copied from the Internet or from books, but to write excerpts or summaries in my own words on the basis of my reading. Luhmann called this "reformulating writing" and argued that such an approach is most important for one's own intellectual life.

      Quote for "reformulating writing"? Date? Does it predate the so-called Feynman technique?

    1. A priest, a rabbi, and Nicholas Luhmann walk into a bar. They sit down, and the priest says, "Let's all share ideas from our florilegia." The rabbi responds by pulling out his own annotation of a gloss on the commentary of Rashi which comments on the Mishnah and the Gamara. To this Luhmann replies, "You're not practicing the one true note taking religion unless you're using alpha-numeric identifiers and have appropriately cross indexed at sheet 031-R with a link branching off of note 100(1) in ZK I.

    1. There are no privileged places in the note-card system, every card is as important as every other card, and no hierarchy is super-imposed on the system. The significance of each card depends on its relation to other cards (or the relation of other cards to it). It is a network; it is not "arboretic." Accordingly, it in some ways anticipates hypertext and the internet.

      Niklas Luhmann's zettelkasten system doesn't impose a heirarchy upon it's contents and in some ways its structure anticipates the ideas of hypertext and the internet's structure.

      Also similar to the idea from Umberto Eco: https://hypothes.is/a/jqug2tNlEeyg2JfEczmepw

    1. We should only write on one side of these papers so that in searching through them, we do not have to take out a paper in order to read it. This doubles the space, but not entirely (since we would not write on both sides of all the slips). This consideration is not unimportant as the arrangement of boxes can, after some decades, become so large that it cannot be easily be used from one’s chair. In order to counteract this tendency, I recommend taking normal paper and not card stock.
  4. Aug 2023
    1. After all, Luhmann himself didn’t have automatic backlinking. He had to manually add the cross-references to his analog notecards, and yet the system allowed him to write dozens of books and papers. Indeed, as Christian from Zettelkasten.de has said, automation might actually be an impediment to the cogitation and deep understanding the method seeks to engender.
  5. Apr 2023
    1. The Zettelkasten provides combinatorial possibilities that were never planned, never pre-meditated, or never designed in this way.
    2. A Zettelkasten that is constructed based on our instructions can achieve high independence. There may be other ways to achieve this goal. The described reduction to a fixed-placement (but merely formal) order, and the corresponding combination of order and disorder, is at least one of them.

      The structural components of Luhmann's zettelkasten which allow for "achieving high independence" are also the same structures found in an indexed commonplace book: namely fixed placement (formally by the order in which things are found and collected) as well as combinations of order and disorder (the methods by which they can be retrieved and read).

    3. If you have to write anyway, it is pragmatic to exploit this activity by creating a system of notes that can act as a competent communication partner.
    4. But don’t count on fast reaction times since I am taking a break from Luhmann because of a Luhmannian overdose.

      "Luhmannian overdose"—Ha!

  6. Mar 2023
    1. Die vermutlich zwischen 1952 und Anfang 1997 entstandenen Aufzeichnungen, mithilfe derer Luhmann die Ergebnisse seiner exzessiven und interdisziplinär breit angelegten Lektüre systematisch organisiert hat, dokumentieren die Theorieentwicklung auf eine einzigartige Weise, so dass man die Sammlung auch als eine intellektuelle Autobiographie verstehen kann.

      The researchers at the Niklas Luhmann-Archive studying Niklas Luhmann's Zettelkasten consider that "the collection can be understood as an intellectual autobiography" (translation mine) even though his slips were generally undated.

    2. Hierbei handelt es sich um eine Sammlung von Notizen, die Luhmann vermutlich zwischen 1952 und 1961 angelegt hat (mit einzelnen späteren Nachträgen; Notizen insbesondere zum Themenkomplex Weltgesellschaft wurden allerdings noch bis ca. 1973 durchweg in diese Sammlung eingestellt). Die insgesamt ca. 23.000 Zettel verteilen sich auf die ersten sieben physischen Auszüge des Kastens sowie auf kleinere Registerabteilungen, die im 17. Auszug der zweiten Sammlung (physischer Auszug 24) stehen. Die Notizen sind im Wesentlichen in der Zeit entstanden, als Luhmann als Rechtsreferendar in Lüneburg bzw. als Regierungsrat im Kultusministerium in Niedersachen gearbeitet hat und dokumentieren seine Lektüre verwaltungs- bzw. staatswissenschaftlicher, philosophischer und zunehmend auch organisationstheoretischer sowie soziologischer Literatur.

      According to the Niklas Luhmann-Archiv, Luhmann began his first zettelkasten in 1952 likely when he was working as a legal trainee in Lüneburg or as a government councilor in the Ministry of Education in Lower Saxony.

      This timeframe would have been just after Johannes Erich Heyde had published the 8th edition of Technik des wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens in 1951.

      Link to: - https://hypothes.is/a/Jn9elsk5Ee2hsLP5WWBEBw on dates of NL ZK - https://hypothes.is/a/CqGhGvchEey6heekrEJ9WA aktenzeichen - https://hypothes.is/a/4wxHdDqeEe2OKGMHXDKezA Clemens Luhmann link

    1. I will share my processes to take notes using different methods. The very first method I use is the Index Cards Method.

      Professor Raul Pacheco-Vega calls his note taking process the "Index Cards Method" and only subtly differentiates it from Niklas Luhmann's zettelkasten method.

    1. German academic publishing in Niklas Luhmann's day was dramatically different from the late 20th/early 21st centuries. There was no peer-review and as a result Luhmann didn't have the level of gatekeeping that academics face today which only served to help increase his academic journal publication record. (28:30)

  7. Feb 2023
    1. if you break it down it's just six notes a day 00:11:11 and that doesn't include Saturdays and Sundays

      Ahrens' 6 notes per day calculation doesn't include Saturdays or Sundays

    1. “I only dowhat is easy. I only write when I immediately know how to do it. If Ifalter for a moment, I put the matter aside and do something else.”(Luhmann et al., 1987, 154f.)[4]

      https://youtu.be/qRSCKSPMuDc?t=37m30s (all links are on takesmartnotes.com)<br /> Luhmann, Niklas, Dirk Baecker, and Georg Stanitzek. 1987. Archimedes und wir: Interviews. Berlin: Merve.



    1. In addition to specific operations such as rewriting, there are also controls for elaboration and continutation. The user can even ask Wordcraft to perform arbitrary tasks, such as "describe the gold earring" or "tell me why the dog was trying to climb the tree", a control we call freeform prompting. And, because sometimes knowing what to ask is the hardest part, the user can ask Wordcraft to generate these freeform prompts and then use them to generate text. We've also integrated a chatbot feature into the app to enable unstructured conversation about the story being written. This way, Wordcraft becomes both an editor and creative partner for the writer, opening up new and exciting creative workflows.

      The sense of writing partner here is similar to that mentioned by Niklas Luhmann in Communicating with Slip Boxes: An Empirical Account (1981), though in his case his writing partner was a carefully constructed database archive of his past notes.

      see: Luhmann, Niklas. “Kommunikation mit Zettelkästen: Ein Erfahrungsbericht.” In Öffentliche Meinung und sozialer Wandel / Public Opinion and Social Change, edited by Horst Baier, Hans Mathias Kepplinger, and Kurt Reumann, 222–28. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 1981. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-322-87749-9_19.<br /> translation at https://web.archive.org/web/20150825031821/http://scriptogr.am/kuehnm.

    1. A Luhmann web article from 2001-06-30!

      Berzbach, Frank. “Künstliche Intelligenz aus Holz.” Online magazine. Magazin für junge Forschung, June 30, 2001. https://sciencegarden.net/kunstliche-intelligenz-aus-holz/.

      Interesting to see the stark contrast in zettelkasten method here in an article about Luhmann versus the discussions within the blogosphere, social media, and other online spaces circa 2018-2022.

      ᔥ[[Daniel Lüdecke]] in Arbeiten mit (elektronischen) Zettelkästen at 2013-08-30 (accessed:: 2023-02-10 06:15:58)

    1. Niklas Luhmann's Zettelkasten<br /> http://fremdlesen.de/?p=297

      cartoon of Luhmann's zettelkasten asking him for a beer

      Zettelkasten: Niklas hol' mir 'n Bier!<br /> Niklas Luhmann: Hatte ich doch bloss nie diessen ver-fluchten zettelkasten erfunden!


      Niklas get me a beer!<br /> If only I had never invented that damn note box!

      Link to: Effort of maintaining a zettelkasten: https://hypothes.is/a/ahU8YqmoEe2tL79vZF9PvQ

    1. According to Shulman, "Cargo-cult is a belief that mock airplanes made of manure and straw-bale may summon the real airplanes who bring canned beef. Reverse cargo-cult is used by the political elites in countries lagging behind who proclaim that, in the developed world, airplanes are also made of manure and straw-bale, and there is also a shortage of canned beef."[29]

      "Екатерина Шульман: Практический Нострадамус, или 12 умственных привычек, которые мешают нам предвидеть будущее". vedomosti/ (in Russian). Retrieved 24 June 2021.

      A Note on the Cargo Cult of Zettelkasten

      Modern cargo cults can be seen in many technology and productivity spaces where people are pulled in by exaggerated (or sometimes even real claims) of productivity or the general "magic" of a technology or method.

      An example is Niklas Luhmann's use of his zettelkasten which has created a cargo cult of zettelkasten aspirants and users who read one or more of the short one page blog posts about his unreasonable productivity and try to mimic it without understanding the system, how it works, or how to make it work for them. They often spend several months collecting notes, and following the motions, but don't realize the promised gains and may eventually give up, sometimes in shame (or as so-called "rubbish men") while watching others still touting its use.

      To prevent one's indoctrination into the zettelkasten cult, I'll make a few recommendations:

      Distance yourself from the one or two page blog posts or the breathless YouTube delineations. Ask yourself very pointedly: what you hope to get out of such a process? What's your goal? Does that goal align with others' prior uses and their outcomes?

      Be careful of the productivity gurus who are selling expensive courses and whose focus may not necessarily be on your particular goals. Some are selling very pointed courses, which is good, while others are selling products which may be so broad that they'll be sure to have some success stories, but their hodge-podge mixture of methods won't suit your particular purpose, or worse, you'll have to experiment with pieces of their courses to discover what may suit your modes of working and hope they'll suffice in the long run. Some are selling other productivity solutions for task management like getting things done (GTD) or bullet journals, which can be a whole other cargo cults in and of themselves. Don't conflate these![^1] The only thing worse than being in a cargo cult is being in multiple at the same time.

      If you go the digital route, be extremely wary of shiny object syndrome. Everyone has a favorite tool and will advocate that it's the one you should be using. (Often their method of use will dictate how much they love it potentially over and above the affordances of the tool itself.) All of these tools can be endlessly configured, tweaked, or extended with plugins or third party services. Everyone wants to show you their workflow and set up, lots of which is based on large amounts of work and experimentation. Ignore 99.999% of this. Most tools are converging to a similar feature set, so pick a reasonable one that seems like it'll be around in 5 years (and which has export, just in case). Try out the very basic features for several months before you change anything. Don't add endless plugins and widgets. You're ultimately using a digital tool to recreate the functionality of index cards, a pencil, and a box. How complicated should this really be? Do you need to spend hundreds of hours tweaking your system to save yourself a few minutes a year? Be aware that far too many people touting the system and marketers talking about the tools are missing several thousands of years of uses of some of these basic literacy-based technologies. Don't join their island cult, but instead figure out how the visiting culture has been doing this for ages.[^2] Recall Will Hunting's admonition against cargo cults in education: “You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.”[^3]

      Most people ultimately realize that the output of their own thinking is only as good as the inputs they're consuming. Leverage this from the moment you begin and ignore the short bite-sized advice for longer form or older advice from those with experience. You're much more likely to get more long term value out of reading Umberto Eco or Mortimer J. Adler & Charles van Doren[^4] than you are an equivalent amount of time reading blog posts, watching YouTube videos, or trolling social media like Reddit and Twitter.

      Realize that reaching your goal is going to take honest-to-goodness actual work, though there is potential for fun. No matter how shiny or optimized your system, you've still got to do the daily work of reading, watching, listening and using it to create anything. Focus on this daily work and don't get sidetracked by the minutiae of trying to shave off just a few more seconds.[^5] In short, don't get caught up in the "productivity porn" of it all. Even the high priest at whose altar they worship once wrote on a slip he filed:

      "A ghost in the note card index? Spectators visit [my office to see my notes] and they get to see everything and nothing all at once. Ultimately, like having watched a porn movie, their disappointment is correspondingly high." —Niklas Luhmann. <small>“Geist im Kasten?” ZKII 9/8,3. Niklas Luhmann-Archiv. Accessed December 10, 2021. https://niklas-luhmann-archiv.de/bestand/zettelkasten/zettel/ZK_2_NB_9-8-3_V. (Personal translation from German with context added.)</small>

      [^1] Aldrich, Chris. “Zettelkasten Overreach.” BoffoSocko (blog), February 5, 2022. https://boffosocko.com/2022/02/05/zettelkasten-overreach/.

      [^2]: 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.

      [^3]: Good Will Hunting. Miramax, Lawrence Bender Productions, 1998.

      [^4]: Adler, Mortimer J., and Charles Van Doren. How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. Revised and Updated edition. 1940. Reprint, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1972.

      [^5]: Munroe, Randall. “Is It Worth the Time?” Web comic. xkcd, April 29, 2013. https://xkcd.com/1205/.

      Recommended resources

      Choose only one of the following and remember you may not need to read the entire work:

      Ahrens, Sönke. How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers. Create Space, 2017.

      Allosso, Dan, and S. F. Allosso. How to Make Notes and Write. Minnesota State Pressbooks, 2022. https://minnstate.pressbooks.pub/write/.

      Bernstein, Mark. Tinderbox: The Tinderbox Way. 3rd ed. Watertown, MA: Eastgate Systems, Inc., 2017. http://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/TinderboxWay/index.html.

      Dow, Earle Wilbur. Principles of a Note-System for Historical Studies. New York: Century Company, 1924.

      Eco, Umberto. How to Write a Thesis. Translated by Caterina Mongiat Farina and Geoff Farina. 1977. Reprint, Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press, 2015. https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/how-write-thesis.

      Gessner, Konrad. Pandectarum Sive Partitionum Universalium. 1st Edition. Zurich: Christoph Froschauer, 1548.

      Goutor, Jacques. The Card-File System of Note-Taking. Approaching Ontario’s Past 3. Toronto: Ontario Historical Society, 1980. http://archive.org/details/cardfilesystemof0000gout.

      Sertillanges, Antonin Gilbert, and Mary Ryan. The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods. First English Edition, Fifth printing. 1921. Reprint, Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1960. http://archive.org/details/a.d.sertillangestheintellectuallife.

      Webb, Sidney, and Beatrice Webb. Methods of Social Study. London; New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1932. http://archive.org/details/b31357891.

      Weinberg, Gerald M. Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method. New York, N.Y: Dorset House, 2005.

  8. Jan 2023
    1. Note 9/8j says - "There is a note in the Zettelkasten that contains the argument that refutes the claims on every other note. But this note disappears as soon as one opens the Zettelkasten. I.e. it appropriates a different number, changes position (or: disguises itself) and is then not to be found. A joker." Is he talking about some hypothetical note? What did he mean by disappearing? Can someone please shed some light on what he really meant?

      On the Jokerzettel

      9/8j Im Zettelkasten ist ein Zettel, der das Argument enthält, das die Behauptungen auf allen anderen Zetteln widerlegt.

      Aber dieser Zettel verschwindet, sobald man den Zettelkasten aufzieht.

      D.h. er nimmt eine andere Nummer an, verstellt sich und ist dann nicht zu finden.

      Ein Joker.

      —Niklas Luhmann, ZK II: Zettel 9/8j


      9/8j In the slip box is a slip containing the argument that refutes the claims on all the other slips. But this slip disappears as soon as you open the slip box. That is, he assumes a different number, disguises himself and then cannot be found. A joker.

      Many have asked about the meaning of this jokerzettel over the past several years. Here's my slightly extended interpretation, based on my own practice with thousands of cards, about what Luhmann meant:

      Imagine you've spent your life making and collecting notes and ideas and placing them lovingly on index cards. You've made tens of thousands and they're a major part of your daily workflow and support your life's work. They define you and how you think. You agree with Friedrich Nietzsche's concession to Heinrich Köselitz that “You are right — our writing tools take part in the forming of our thoughts.” Your time is alive with McLuhan's idea that "The medium is the message." or in which his friend John Culkin said, "We shape our tools and thereafter they shape us."

      Eventually you're going to worry about accidentally throwing your cards away, people stealing or copying them, fires (oh! the fires), floods, or other natural disasters. You don't have the ability to do digital back ups yet. You ask yourself, can I truly trust my spouse not to destroy them?,What about accidents like dropping them all over the floor and needing to reorganize them or worse, the ghost in the machine should rear its head?

      You'll fear the worst, but the worst only grows logarithmically in proportion to your collection.

      Eventually you pass on opportunities elsewhere because you're worried about moving your ever-growing collection. What if the war should obliterate your work? Maybe you should take them into the war with you, because you can't bear to be apart?

      If you grow up at a time when Schrodinger's cat is in the zeitgeist, you're definitely going to have nightmares that what's written on your cards could horrifyingly change every time you look at them. Worse, knowing about the Heisenberg Uncertainly Principle, you're deathly afraid that there might be cards, like electrons, which are always changing position in ways you'll never be able to know or predict.

      As a systems theorist, you view your own note taking system as a input/output machine. Then you see Claude Shannon's "useless machine" (based on an idea of Marvin Minsky) whose only function is to switch itself off. You become horrified with the idea that the knowledge machine you've painstakingly built and have documented the ways it acts as an independent thought partner may somehow become self-aware and shut itself off!?!


      And worst of all, on top of all this, all your hard work, effort, and untold hours of sweat creating thousands of cards will be wiped away by a potential unknowable single bit of information on a lone, malicious card and your only recourse is suicide, the unfortunate victim of dataism.

      Of course, if you somehow manage to overcome the hurdle of suicidal thoughts, and your collection keeps growing without bound, then you're sure to die in a torrential whirlwind avalanche of information and cards, literally done in by information overload.

      But, not wishing to admit any of this, much less all of this, you imagine a simple trickster, a joker, something silly. You write it down on yet another card and you file it away into the box, linked only to the card in front of it, the end of a short line of cards with nothing following it, because what could follow it? Put it out of your mind and hope your fears disappear away with it, lost in your box like the jokerzettel you imagined. You do this with a self-assured confidence that this way of making sense of the world works well for you, and you settle back into the methodical work of reading and writing, intent on making your next thousands of cards.

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpvEY-2dSdU

      In this episode, I explain the memory system I created in order to expand my memory to new heights. I call it the Sirianni Method and with it, you can learn how to create an intentional photographic memory.

      Who the hell is the Sirianni this is named for, himself? (In the comments he mentions that "it's my italian grandpa's last name, I always liked it and a while back started naming things after it)

      tl;dr: He's reinvented the wheel, but certainly not the best version of it.

      What he's describing isn't remotely related to the idea of a photographic memory, so he's over-hyping the results, which is dreadful. If it were a photographic memory, he wouldn't need the spaced-repetition portion of his practice. While he mentions how he's regularly reviewing his cards he doesn't mention any of the last century+ of research and work on spaced repetition. https://super-memory.com/articles/20rules.htm is a good place to start for some of this.

      A lot of what he's doing is based on associative memory, particularly by drawing connections/links to other things he already knows. He's also taking advantage of visual memory by associating his knowledge with a specific picture.

      He highlights emotion and memory, but isn't drawing clear connections between his knowledge and any specific emotions that he's tying or associating them to.

      "Intentional" seems to be one of the few honest portions of the piece.

      Overview of his Sirianni method: pseudo-zettelkasten notes with written links to things he already knows (but without any Luhmann-esque numbering system or explicit links between cards, unless they're hiding in his connections section, which isn't well supported by the video) as well as a mnemonic image and lots of ad hoc spaced repetition.

      One would be better off mixing their note taking practice with associative mnemonic methods (method of loci, songlines, memory palaces, sketchnotes, major system, orality, etc.) all well described by Lynne Kelly (amongst hundreds before her who got smaller portions of these practices) in combination with state of the art spaced repetition.

      The description of Luhmann's note taking system here is barely passable at best. He certainly didn't invent the system which was based on several hundred years of commonplace book methodology before him. Luhmann also didn't popularize it in any sense (he actually lamented how people were unimpressed by it when he showed them). Popularization was done post-2013 generally by internet hype based on his prolific academic output.

      There is nothing new here other than that he thinks he's discovered something new and is repackaging it for the masses with a new name in a flashy video package. There's a long history of hucksters doing this sort of fabulist tale including Kevin Trudeau with Mega Memory in the 1990s and going back to at least the late 1800s with "Professor" Alphonse Loisette and the system he sold for inordinate amounts to the masses including Mark Twain.

      Most of these methods have been around for millennia and are all generally useful and well documented though the cultural West has just chosen to forget most of them. A week's worth of research and reading on these topics would have resulted in a much stronger "system" more quickly.

      Beyond this, providing a fuller range of specific options and sub-options in these areas so that individuals could pick and choose the specifics which work best for them might have been a better way to go.

      Content research: D- Production value: A+

      {syndication link](https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/10ehrbd/comment/j4u495q/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3)

    2. he [Luhmann] popularized method of expanding your memory called the zettelkasten method (04:49)

      At least he doesn't go with the invention myth, but it's also false that he was the one who popularized it... others online popularized it.

    1. I have a bit of a soft spot for Niklas Luhmann ever since David Seidl introduced me to his ideas. I think it was at an EGOS conference in the early 2000s.


      Peter Smith was introduced to Niklas Luhmann at an European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) Conference in the early 2000s, ostensibly a business related group.

      I came across this via an IndieWeb reference and webmention.

    1. I think the point is somewhat different. Luhmann was an academic writing for other academics and wrote technically due to fears of misunderstanding by those with a different educational background, as was a quite reasonable fear at the time.

      Was Luhmann's obtuse style, in part, a means of publicly sharing content, but doing so in a way as to restrict the knowledge to those who had an increased level of context for understanding it? How similar is this to the pattern of restricted knowledge in some Indigenous cultures where people passed along knowledge in restricted ways?

      Is there a word or phrase to synopsize this sort of hard to understand academic-speak?

  9. Dec 2022
    1. La efectividad de este sistema no se basa en la ética de trabajo enfermiza de su creador, y si en su similitud con el funcionamiento de nuestro cerebro.

      Though to a great extent, his work ethic was really key to his output, something which was facilitated by his method.

      Another example of building the myth of the method while sidelining the ethic which could be paired with it.

    1. People are fascinated with how Luhmann became a book-writing academicresearch machine. The answer? The Antinet.

      He highlights this here because it seems convenient to his thesis about a "true way", but Scheper has also mentioned in other venues that it was Luhmann's tenacity of working at his project that was largely responsible for his output.

      I believe he made that statement in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgMh6iuFbT4



  10. Nov 2022
    1. Groethe-Hammer, Michael. 2022. The Communicative Constitution of The World: A Luhmannian View on Communication, Organizations, and Society in The Routledge Handbook of The Communicative Constitution of Organization.

  11. Oct 2022
    1. When I first read the Zettelkasten paper, in the late 90s, the interesting point was the physical filing system.

      Mark Bernstein, the creator of Tinderbox, indicates that he read Niklas Luhmann's paper "Communicating with Slip Boxes: An Empirical Account" (1992) in the late 1990s.

    1. Deutsch himself pointed to criticswho called him a ‘chiffonier’ or historical rag-picker, though he defended his ‘incon-venient though undeniable facts’ (Deutsch, 1916). A number of contemporaries recog-nized the limits of his interest in individual facts. ‘I get the impression’, one figure put it,‘that the charm of the facts of history, was so great for Deutsch, he lost himself socompletely . . . in the study of them, that he was never altogether able to say he is throughwith studying them and that he is ready for writing’ (Schulman, 1922). One review ofDeutsch’s Scrolls (1917), which collected some of his scattered articles, reflected thatthe articles lacked organization. ‘In order to obtain value,’ the reviewer insisted, ‘factsmust be organized . . . Isolate a fact as one isolates a germ in the laboratory, such a factbecomes worthless for historical purposes’ (Leiber, 1917).

      Just as people chided Niklas Luhmann for his obtuseness in writing based on his zettelkasten, Gotthard Deutsch's critics felt he didn't write enough using his.

  12. Sep 2022
    1. Artykuł poświęcony metodzie Zettelkasten Niklasa Luhmanna. Autor omawia ją na swój sposób, bardziej jednak zachwalając lub pisząc ogólnie, niż opisując szczegółowo. Podaje kilka informacji, opisuje swoje podejście i rozwiązania, powiela przy tym jednak parę błędnych przekonań.

      Zaletą tekstu jest jednak to, że autor powołuje się na źródła, podaje parę ciekawych, w tym także naukowych, tekstów. Ogólnie sądzę, że to dobre wprowadzenie dla kogoś, kto nie zna tej metody, choć problemem jest powtarzanie błędnych przekonań. Z kolei dla osoby średniozaawansowanej nie ma tu nic odkrywczego i nowego.

    1. Artykuł jest właściwie skrótem, czy transkrypcją, materiału wideo na temat adresowania, numerowania notatek Zettelkasen.

      Autor przedstawia 5 konwencjI numerowania notatek: samego Niklasa Luhmanna, Boba Doto, Scotta Schepera, Dana Alloso oraz własną.

      Przedstawia różne sposoby tworzenia adresu notagraficznego.

    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)

    1. By the way, Luhmann's system is said to have had 35.000 cards. Jules Verne had 25.000. The sixteenth-century thinker Joachim Jungius is said to have had 150.000, and how many Leibniz had, we do not know, though we do know that he had one of the most ingenious piece of furniture for keeping his copious notes.

      Circa late 2011, he's positing Luhmann had 35,000 cards and not 90,000.

      Jules Verne used index cards. Joachim Jungius is said to have had 150,000 cards.

    1. Jeff Miller@jmeowmeowReading the lengthy, motivational introduction of Sönke Ahrens' How to Take Smart Notes (a zettelkasten method primer) reminds me directly of Gerald Weinberg's Fieldstone Method of writing.

      reply to: https://twitter.com/jmeowmeow/status/1568736485171666946

      I've only seen a few people notice the similarities between zettelkasten and fieldstones. Among them I don't think any have noted that Luhmann and Weinberg were both systems theorists.

      syndication link

  13. Aug 2022
    1. level 3sscheper · 2 days agoI did an interview with Luhmann's youngest son, Clemens. He told me he was trying to get his father to switch to using a computer for the last 15 years of his life (Clemens studied computer science in America when he was 16). Luhmann's response: "If it ain't broke, why change?" According to Clemens, Luhmann felt they were distracting and refused to own one. Now... if he were getting started today I'd guess he'd probably use digital (but who knows, he may switch to using analog).
  14. Jul 2022
    1. https://vimeo.com/729407073

      <iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/729407073?h=054ecbcc7b" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; fullscreen; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

      MakingKnowledge: Scott Scheper from Dan Allosso on Vimeo.

      Various names Luhmann gives to the effects seen in his slip box: - ghost in the box - second mind - alter ego - communication partner

      These are tangential ideas and words which lead up to the serendipity of combinatorial creativity, but aren't quite there.

    1. German sociologist

      Somehow there are more references to Luhmann in the literature as "The Sociologist from Bielefeld", almost the same what that everyone referred to Aristotle as "The Philosopher".

    1. Langlois, Charles-Victor / Seignobos, Charles (1898): Introduction to the Study of History. London

      Niklas Luhmann cites Langlois and Seignobos' Introduction to the Study of History (1898) at least once, so there's evidence that he read at least a portion of the book which outlines some portions of note taking practice that resemble portions of his zettelkasten method.

    1. What is the use of this pedantic method of note-taking, involvingmasses of paper and a lot of hard thinking, not to mention the shufflingand reshuffling, which is apparently the final cause of this intolerableelaboration? will be asked by the post-graduate student eager to pub¬lish an epoch-making treatise on the History of Government, or, per¬chance, on the History of Freedom, within the two years he has allottedto the taking of his doctorate. The only answer I can give is to citeour own experience.

      Compare this statement to the no less grandiloquence of Niklas Luhmann's mission statement: "Theory of society; duration: 30 years; costs: none”.

      link to: -https://hyp.is/RyY9ZPfYEeytOHPQUhhzdQ/www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/vlape5/luhmanns_zettelkasten_use_case/

      This quote would seem to indicate that Luhmann had read or seen this book.

      Luhmann's zettelkasten (search on 2022-07-19) only shows one card referencing some of her other work: https://niklas-luhmann-archiv.de/bestand/zettelkasten/zettel/ZK_1_NB_33-1d1A4-1_V

    1. Niklas Luhmann’s [ 6,7 ] terminology, we refer to these dominant symbolic networks associal systems. When approached not as aggregations of people but rather as patterns of communicationssustained among people, social systems can be observed to have enormous powers over humanbeings.
      • definition of social systems
      • social systems focus on the pattern of communication, not on the people who participate in those patterns
    1. Over the course of his intellectual life, from about 1943 until hissudden death in 1980, Barthes built a card index consisting of morethan 12,250 note cards – the full extent of this collection was notknown until access to it was granted to the manuscript researchers ofthe Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC) inFrance (Krapp, 2006: 363).3

      Roland Barthes accumulated a card index of more than 12,250 note cards beginning in 1943 which were held after his death in 1980 at the Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC) in France.

      Barthes' dates 12 November 1915 – 26 March 1980 age 64

      He started his card index at roughly age 28 and at around the same time which he began producing written work. (Did he have any significant writing work or publications prior to this?)

      His card collection spanned about 37 years and at 12,250 cards means that was producing on average 0.907 cards per day. If we don't include weekends, then he produced 1.27 cards per day on average. Compare this with Ahrens' estimate of 6 cards a day for Niklas Luhmann.

      With this note I'm starting the use of a subject heading (in English) of "card index" as a generic collection of notes which are often kept in one or more boxes. This is to distinguish it from the more modern idea of zettelkasten in the Luhmann framing which also connotes a dense set of links between the cards themselves, though this may not have been the case historically. Card index is also specifically separate from 'index card' which is an individual instance of an item that might be found in a card index. At present, I'm unaware of a specific word in English which defines the broader note taking context or portions thereof relating to index cards in the same way that a zettelkasten implies. This may be the result of the broad use of index cards for so many varying uses in the early 20th century. For these other varying uses I'll try to differentiate them henceforth with the generic 'index card files' which might also be used to describe the containers in which cards might be found.

    1. I tried using Roam for about two weeks once. I used Roam and only Roam, diligently. After only two weeks, my knowledge graph was utterly unintelligible and distressing.

      While one can take a lot of notes in two weeks, even just six quality notes a day (Niklas Lumann's pace was six per day while Roland Barthes was closer to 1 and change per day) only provides about 84 cards or zettels. This isn't enough to make anything distressing or unintelligible. It's also incredibly far short of creating any useful links to create anything. He should have trimmed things down and continued for about 24 weeks to see any significant results. (Of course this also begs the question: what was his purpose in pursuing such a system in the first place?)

    1. The presenter in the video has 70 notes across 3 months which is drastically lower than what I have.

      Somewhere I think I read that Luhmann only added about 6 cards a day to his zettelkasten. (I suspect they averaged his 90K output over the span of years he said he used it....)

      My fleeting note output right now is potentially too much, and I certainly should be spending more time refining and building on my (note-based) thoughts.

      It's not how many thoughts one has, but their quality and even more importantly, what one does with them.


  15. Jun 2022
    1. Luhmann remarked that, when the Faculty of Sociology at Bielefeld University, newly established in 1969, asked its professors to report on the research projects they were working on, his reply was “Theory of society; duration: 30 years; costs: none” (Luhmann, 1997, p. 11).

      “Theory of society; duration: 30 years; costs: none”

      Quote from

      Luhmann, N. (1997). Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft (2 vols). Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Suhrkamp. Published in translation as Theory of society (2 vols.). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press 2012–2013.

    1. Das gerichtliche Aktenzeichen dient der Kennzeichnung eines Dokuments und geht auf die Aktenordnung (AktO) vom 28. November 1934 und ihre Vorgänger zurück.[4]

      The court file number is used to identify a document and goes back to the file regulations (AktO) of November 28, 1934 and its predecessors.

      The German "file number" (aktenzeichen) is a unique identification of a file, commonly used in their court system and predecessors as well as file numbers in public administration since at least 1934.

      Niklas Luhmann studied law at the University of Freiburg from 1946 to 1949, when he obtained a law degree, before beginning a career in Lüneburg's public administration where he stayed in civil service until 1962. Given this fact, it's very likely that Luhmann had in-depth experience with these sorts of file numbers as location identifiers for files and documents.

      We know these numbering methods in public administration date back to as early as Vienna, Austria in the 1770s.

      The missing piece now is who/where did Luhmann learn his note taking and excerpting practice from? Alberto Cevolini argues that Niklas Luhmann was unaware of the prior tradition of excerpting, though note taking on index cards or slips had been commonplace in academic circles for quite some time and would have been reasonably commonplace during his student years.

      Are there handbooks, guides, or manuals in the early 1900's that detail these sorts of note taking practices?

      Perhaps something along the lines of Antonin Sertillanges’ book The Intellectual Life (1921) or Paul Chavigny's Organisation du travail intellectuel: recettes pratiques à l’usage des étudiants de toutes les facultés et de tous les travailleurs (in French) (Delagrave, 1918)?

      Further recall that Bruno Winck has linked some of the note taking using index cards to legal studies to Roland Claude's 1961 text:

      I checked Chavigny’s book on the BNF site. He insists on the use of index cards (‘fiches’), how to index them, one idea per card but not how to connect between the cards and allow navigation between them.

      Mind that it’s written in 1919, in Strasbourg (my hometown) just one year after it returned to France. So between students who used this book and Luhmann in Freiburg it’s not far away. My mother taught me how to use cards for my studies back in 1977, I still have the book where she learn the method, as Law student in Strasbourg “Comment se documenter”, by Roland Claude, 1961. Page 25 describes a way to build secondary index to receive all cards relatives to a topic by their number. Still Luhmann system seems easier to maintain but very near.

      <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'> Scott P. Scheper </span> in Scott P. Scheper on Twitter: "The origins of the Zettelkasten's numeric-alpha card addresses seem to derive from Niklas Luhmann's early work as a legal clerk. The filing scheme used is called "Aktenzeichen" - See https://t.co/4mQklgSG5u. cc @ChrisAldrich" / Twitter (<time class='dt-published'>06/28/2022 11:29:18</time>)</cite></small>

      Link to: - https://hypothes.is/a/Jlnn3IfSEey_-3uboxHsOA - https://hypothes.is/a/4jtT0FqsEeyXFzP-AuDIAA

    1. First, while using the previous retrieval methods, it is a good ideato keep your focus a little broad. Don’t begin and end your searchwith only the specific folder that matches your criteria.

      The area of serendipity becomes much more powerful when one has ideas both directly interlinked, ideas categorized with subject headings or tags, or when one can have affordances like auto-complete.

      The method Forte suggests and outlines allows for some serendipity, but not as much as other methods with additional refinements. Serendipity in Forte's method isn't as strong as in others.

      In this section he's talking about some of the true "magic of note taking" which is discussed by Luhmann and others.

      link to:<br /> Luhmann's writings on serendipity and surprise when using his zettelkasten (Communication with the Slipbox...)<br /> Ahrens mentions of this effect

    2. On average I capture just twonotes per day

      Tiago Forte self-reports that he captures two notes a day.

      Link to other's notes per day including Barthes, Luhmann, et al.

    1. The addressing system that many digital note taking systems offer is reminiscent of Luhmann's paper system where it served a particular use. Many might ask themselves if they really need this functionality in digital contexts where text search and other affordances can be more directly useful.

      Frequently missed by many, perhaps because they're befuddled by the complex branching numbering system which gets more publicity, Luhmann's paper-based system had a highly useful and simple subject heading index (see: https://niklas-luhmann-archiv.de/bestand/zettelkasten/zettel/ZK_2_SW1_001_V, for example) which can be replicated using either #tags or [[wikilinks]] within tools like Obsidian. Of course having an index doesn't preclude the incredible usefulness of directly linking one idea to potentially multiple others in some branching tree-like or network structure.

      Note that one highly valuable feature of Luhmann's paper version was that the totality of cards were linked to a minimum of at least one other card by the default that they were placed into the file itself. Those putting notes into Obsidian often place them into their system as singlet, un-linked notes as a default, and this can lead to problems down the road. However this can be mitigated by utilizing topical or subject headings on individual cards which allows for searching on a heading and then cross-linking individual ideas as appropriate.

      As an example, because two cards may be tagged with "archaeology" doesn't necessarily mean they're closely related as ideas. This tends to decrease in likelihood if one is an archaeologist and a large proportion of cards might contain that tag, but will simultaneously create more value over time as generic tags increase in number but the specific ideas cross link in small numbers. Similarly as one delves more deeply into archaeology, one will also come up with more granular and useful sub-tags (like Zooarcheology, Paleobotany, Archeopedology, Forensic Archeology, Archeoastronomy, Geoarcheology, etc.) as their knowledge in sub areas increases.

      Concretely, one might expect that the subject heading "sociology" would be nearly useless to Luhmann as that was the overarching topic of both of his zettelkästen (I & II), whereas "Autonomie" was much more specific and useful for cross linking a smaller handful of potentially related ideas in the future.

      Looking beyond Luhmann can be highly helpful in designing and using one's own system. I'd recommend taking a look at John Locke's work on indexing (1685) (https://publicdomainreview.org/collection/john-lockes-method-for-common-place-books-1685 is an interesting source, though you're obviously applying it to (digital) cards and not a notebook) or Ross Ashby's hybrid notebook/index card system which is also available online (http://www.rossashby.info/journal/index.html) as an example.

      Another helpful tip some are sure to appreciate in systems that have an auto-complete function is simply starting to write a wikilink with various related subject heading words that may appear within your system. You'll then be presented with potential options of things to link to serendipitously that you may not have otherwise considered. Within a digital zettelkasten, the popularly used DYAC (Damn You Auto Complete) may turn into Bless You Auto Complete.

  16. May 2022
    1. Paper as Passion: Niklas Luhmann and His CardIndexMarkus Krajewskitranslated by Charles Marcrum II

      Some interesting tidbits here. Painful to read in translation. I wonder how clear it would be in the original? Sometimes it seems to drift into the magical and mystical rather than staying rooted in the simple physical world. This rehashes many of the ideas he's had in other places.

      I'm not sure how this all really relates to the overarching space of the overall book however.

    2. “ Communication is . . . autopoietic insofar as it can only beproduced in a recursive relationship to other communications, that is to say, only in anetwork, to the reproduction of which each individual communication contributes.”42
      1. Luhmann, Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft , 82f.
    3. Communication “is the smallest possible unit of a social system,namely that unit to which communication can still react through communication.”40
      1. Luhmann, Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft , 82.
    4. Despite the librarian card-theoreticalrecommendation of only using cardboard or strong paper as a bearer of information,17Luhmann relies on plain typewriter paper for spatial economy, which can quickly lead,however, to the deterioration of the medium with frequent browsing.

      For Luhmann's time, the librarian recommendation for substrate was either cardboard or strong paper as the carrier for information, but he eschewed this recommendation in favor of plain typewriter paper because it took up less space. This came at the cost of deterioration of many of his cards through regular use however.

    5. WhenNiklas Luhmann decided in 1951, toward the end of his legal studies, to no longergather loose sheets into portfolios, as Goethe once did,9 but rather to take up work ona slip box, just like his implicit benchmark Hegel, the position of the Other becameoccupied by a paper machine.

      Niklas Luhmann created his slip box in 1951 after the model of Hegel rather than using the method of loose sheets into portfolios as Goethe had done.

      1. See Ernst Robert Curtius, “ Goethes Aktenf ü hrung,” in Kritische Essays zur europäischen Literatur (Bern: Francke, 1954), 57 – 69.

      Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832)

    6. Paper as Passion: Niklas Luhmann and His CardIndexMarkus Krajewskitranslated by Charles Marcrum II

      Starting here...

    1. autoph uh german how is it in english i think it's i i yeah i've looked it up i think it's autopiosis or auto autopilosis yes in germany it's

      Niklas Luhmann used his zettelkasten to develop an organic theory to understand an organic subject in an autopoetic way.

    2. you saw the inevitable blog posts in the blogosphere and the youtubers picked it up and if you actually did it like cold adaption it was very easy to see who actually did 00:04:34 it themselves and then had some practical experience and some people like just researched it and like i think you you know it like when people say like the 12 best tips for x and y 00:04:47 yeah and um you have this kind of blog post that's obvious like easy grabs for content

      There are likely far more people talking about zettelkasten and writing short, simple blogposts and articles about it than those who are actually practicing it and seeing benefit from it.

      Finding public examples of people practicing and showing their work in the zettelkasten space are few and far between.

      This effect likely increases the availability bias of Niklas Luhmann's zettelkasten which is frequently spoken of, but it also has the benefit of being online, even if it's primarily written in German.

    3. illuminate

      Illuhmannate: insight one gains from using their zettelkasten with inspiration from Niklas Luhmann

    1. it is true that the systems theory does not emanate with given, natural or morally, absolutely predetermined external variables, instances or criteria, but assumes that all scales of the assessment of action are formulated in the society itself and at once written as an abstraction to its heaven, even although it is changing with the development of society.

      This sounds a lot like the formulation of anthropology that I've been contemplating.

    1. https://www.otherlife.co/pkm/

      The PKM space has gotten crazy, but mostly through bad practice, lack of history, and hype. There are a few valid points I see mirrored here, but on the whole this piece is broadly off base due to a lack of proper experience, practice and study. I definitely would recommend he take a paid course to fix the issue, but delve more deeply into recommended historical practices.

    2. Many writers have devised lots of little systems, and the fact that everyone into PKM mentions this one guy supports my argument. What percentage of history's greatest and most prolific writers did not use a Zettelkasten? More than 99%, probably. Luhmann is an exception that proves the rule.

      There is a heavy availability heuristic at play here. Most people in the recent/modern PKM space are enamored with the idea of zettelkasten and no one (or very few) have delved in more deeply to the history to uncover more than Luhmann. There definitely are many, many more. If we expand the circle to include looser forms like the commonplace book then we find that nearly every major thinker since the Renaissance kept some sort of note taking system and it's highly likely that their work was heavily influenced by their notes, notebooks, and commonplace books.

      Hell, Newton invented the calculus in his waste book, a form of pre-commonplace book from which he apparently never got his temporary notes out into a more personal permanent form.

      A short trip to even the scant references on the Wikipedia pages for commonplace book and zettelkasten will reveal a fraction of the extant examples.

    1. name means a slit box in german as in like a slip of paper a box containing such slips of paper it was invented or at least the modern form was described by a sociologist 00:02:32 named nicholas lumon

      Another example of someone misattributing the invention of the zettelkasten to Niklas Luhmann. At least Soren Bjornstad modifies the attribution to say modern form, but I suspect that this is more of a verbal hedge more than being backed up with actual evidence, though perhaps the video will bear out more detail?

      The availability heuristic is so strong in Luhmann's case, that he is attributed the invention. I find that few people can point to or ever mention any others who used the method.

    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.

  17. Apr 2022
    1. What do I need to see to believe that the zettelkasten method is working? .t3_uc59sc._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; }

      Luhmann is not an outlier, he's just the only example known in English social media and the blogosphere over the past couple of years. Try searching for "card index" (English), "fichier boîte" (French), or even "commonplace book" (a simplified version of and predecessor of the zettelkasten) and you'll find lots of examples. Over the past year or so I've been working at improving the number of examples available. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zettelkasten. Recently I've just uncovered Roland Barthes (12,250+ index cards) and Vladimir Nabokov (author of Lolita fame: https://www.openculture.com/2014/02/the-notecards-on-which-vladimir-nabokov-wrote-lolita.html).

      Some of the common things I see people doing wrong are not putting in the work and particularly not creating links between their cards. Others don't have a clear reason why they're actually doing the practice. Based on anecdotal evidence from people who are well practiced at it and have done it a while, it can take from 500 to 1000 cards to see the sort of fun serendipity and value in having a zettelkasten. Having something specific or even an area in which you actively want to write as an end goal can be very helpful. If you're writing even 1-3 solid cards a day, that is the leverage in productivity. Barthes averaged about 1 and change compared to Luhmann's 6 cards a day. Once you have lots of cards that are all linked together, pick your favorite up with all the ones that go with it and you've got a solid article or even the start of a book.

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Wp6q5hUdtA

      Nice example of someone building their own paper-based zettelkasten an how they use it.

      Seemingly missing here is any sort of indexing system which means one is more reliant on the threads from one card to the next. Also missing are any other examples of links to other cards beyond the one this particular card is placed behind.

      Scott Scheper is using the word antinet, presumably to focus on non-digital versions of zettelkasten. Sounds more like a marketing word that essentially means paper zettelkasten or card index.

    1. On Zettel 9/8a2 he called the Zettelkasten "eine Klärgrube" or a "septic tank;" (perhaps even "cesspool"). Waste goes in, and gets separated from the clearer stuff.

      Niklas Luhmann analogized his zettelkasten to a septic tank. You put in a lot of material, a lot of seemingly waste, and it allows a process of settling and filtering to allow the waste to be separated and distill into something useful.

  18. Mar 2022
    1. the going through abstraction and re-specification so i think i became interested in cetera carson also because i saw a lot of similarities 01:11:30 to what historians of science describe as experimental work in laboratories and that is especially in the field of science and technology 01:11:43 studies especially the work of hanzio greinberger he works for the max planck institute for history of science in berlin and the way he describes 01:11:55 um experimental work as a form of material deconstruction um is my blueprint for understanding 01:12:10 the work of lumen

      Sönke Ahrens used Hans-Jörg Rheinberger's description of experimental work as a form of material deconstruction as a framework for looking at Niklas Luhmann.

    2. nicholas lerman is a sample of one 01:09:54 and if the zerocarton is a tool for thinking there are all these other thinkers out there who are thinking um and do we know how they're thinking how their 01:10:07 how you know what note systems are they using i'd like to i'd like to be able to place lerman yeah amongst all these others and and sort of in the zerocast and 01:10:23 see what others are doing as well and yeah i mean if there was one project i would have loved to do is going around 01:10:36 asking everyone i whose work i admire how do you do it how do you do it exactly what do you do in the morning how do you sit down how do you digest the books you're reading 01:10:48 um i was obsessed with the idea and it's just because i'm too shy to follow up on that

      Some discussion of doing research on zettelkasten methods and workflows.

      What do note taking methods and processes look like for individual people?

      What questions would one ask for this sort of research in an interview setting (compared to how one would look at extant physical examples in document-based research)? #openquestions

      Link this to the work of Earle Havens on commonplace books through portions of history.

    3. 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.


    1. Make a Career One Note at a Time

      Ahrens compares the writing output of Anthony Trollope to Niklas Luhmann and suggests that Luhmann wins hands down because the zettelkasten provides some additional leverage above and beyond the basic linear output of Trollope.

  19. Feb 2022
    1. By 1777, the government of Lower Austria starts a renewed numbering of houses. “ As many new houses were built after the last conscription which have no number yet, this is also an opportunity for the rectifi cation of the house numbers. ” New entries are to be treated as follows: “ If for instance three new houses are found between numbers 12 and 13, the fi rst is to be 12a, the second 12b, the third 12c. ” 7 Moreover, the conscription decree further increases the depth of addressing, including “ women, Jews, and farm animals. ”

      Starting with a decree by Her Majesty Maria Theresa on December 24, 1770 to create conscription numbers on Viennese houses and expanded in 1777, the government of Lower Austria created a number system to identify all houses as well as to men, women, Jews, and farm animals. Because new houses had been built since the beginning of the system houses built between whole numbered houses were assigned address including the whole number along with an alphabetic letter a, b, c, and so on depending on the number of new spaces.

      It can't escape one's notice that this is substantially similar to the numbering system which Niklas Luhmann used for his zettelkasten.

    1. You can look up for yourself some ofhis notes on their website.[12] Soon, you will be able to access thewhole digitalised slip-box online.

      For those interested in looking at a system in English but with a slightly different form, but ostensibly similar, try W. Ross Ashby's digitized note collection: http://www.rossashby.info/

      Perhaps not coincidentally, Ashby was a research colleague of Luhmann's.

    2. cut out paper as Luhmann hadto.

      On the back of his notes, you will find not only manuscript drafts, but also old bills or drawings by his children. [footnote]

      While it's possible that Luhmann may have cut some of his own paper, by the time he was creating his notes the mass manufacture of index cards of various sizes was ubiquitous enough that he should never have had to cut his own. He certainly wasn't forced to manufacture them the way Carl Linnaeus had to.

    3. Iwonder how long it will take until the advantages of Luhmann’s slip-box and work routines become equally obvious to everyone. But bythen, everyone will already have known it all along the way.

      Ahrens focuses almost exclusively on Niklas Luhmann in his book How to Take Smart Notes. Sadly he misses that many others used not only the zettelkasten but other closely similar techniques including the commonplace book as a means of knowledge gathering and productivity.

      There are thousands of productive researchers and writers who have broadly used many of these techniques to great advantage. In fact, it's almost hard to find famous writers or thinkers in the early Renaissance or since who did not use these systems.

      Certainly Luhmann's system was one of the most refined of the group and his success is heavily underlined by his gargantuan output, but by not highlight other users of these systems, we're missing a lot more of the power of these systems.

    4. Schmidt, Johannes F.K. 2013. “Der Nachlass Niklas Luhmanns –eine erste Sichtung: Zettelkasten und Manuskripte.” SozialeSysteme 19 (1): 167–83.

      I'd like to read this but suspect there isn't an English translation lying around.

    5. When he was asked if he missed anything in his life, he famouslyanswered: “If I want something, it’s more time. The only thing thatreally is a nuisance is the lack of time.” (Luhmann, Baecker, andStanitzek, 1987, 139)
    1. Ahren’s book and ideas are not his original creation, but based on the method of Niklas Luhman referred to as the Zettelkasten. I see various references to Luhman’s ideas lately and predict this will become “a thing” in education.

      Another example of how much we've forgotten of our commonplacing and note taking traditions in rhetoric, and this from someone who's actively used note cards in the past.

      Luhmann did not invent the zettelkasten. (I should make bumper stickers...)

      Oops: https://www.zazzle.com/niklas_luhmann_bumper_sticker-128462770354241554

  20. Jan 2022
    1. “One cannot think without writing.” (Luhmann 1992, 53)

      Similar statements have been made by others:

      I could quote Luhmann on this as well, who thought that "without writing one cannot think," But there is nothing peculiarly "Luhmannian" about this idea. Isaac Asimov is said to have said "Writing to me is simply thinking through my fingers." And, to give one other example, E. B. White (of "Strunk and White" fame) claimed that "writing is one way to go about thinking." In other words, writing is thinking. And since I do almost all my significant writing in ConnectedText these days, it might be called my "writing environment."—Manfred Kuehn

      I think this was Luhmann's full quote:

      Ohne zu schreiben, kann man nicht denken; jedenfalls nicht in anspruchsvoller, anschlussfähiger Weise.

      (Translation) You cannot think without writing; at least not in a sophisticated, connectable way.

      Luhmann’s “you” or "one" in his quote is obviously only a Western cultural referent which erases the existence of oral based cultures which have other ways to do their sophisticated thinking. His ignorant framing on the topic shouldn’t be a shared one. Oral cultures managed to do their thinking through speech and memory.

    1. I could quote Luhmann on this as well, who thought that "without writing one cannot think," But there is nothing peculiarly "Luhmannian" about this idea. Isaac Asimov is said to have said "Writing to me is simply thinking through my fingers." And, to give one other example, E. B. White (of "Strunk and White" fame) claimed that "writing is one way to go about thinking." In other words, writing is thinking. And since I do almost all my significant writing in ConnectedText these days, it might be called my "writing environment."

      Various quotes along the lines of "writing is thinking".

      What is the equivalent in oral societies? Memory is thinking?

    1. Schmidt, J. F. (2018). Niklas Luhmann’s Card Index: The Fabrication of Serendipity. Sociologica, 12(1), 53–60. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.1971-8853/8350

      A quick overview of Niklas Luhmann's zettelkasten and it's basic shape with a few interesting quotes. Nothing really brilliant or new here for me. There were two portions mentioning computer science which gave too much credulity to the comparison between the zettelkasten and a computer and erased the earlier history of these techniques. I'm hoping that there's far more in the longer article in the book Forgetting Machines.

      I'm a bit irked to continually find that Luhmann's second system is still incomplete and particularly section 9.

    2. As Luhmann noted,19 this concept goes back to the general structure

      of the brain modeled by W.R. Ashby:20 the capacity of the brain does not derive from a huge number of point-to-point-accesses but on the relations between the nodes (i.e. notes).

      Evidence that Niklas Luhmann was aware of W. Ross Ashby. The secondary question to be asked here: did they each know of each others' note taking methods and systems which are highly similar?

      Index card no. 9/8b of the second collection. (Niklas Luhmann)

    3. Generally speaking, his mode of referencing — developed in the 1950s! — make use of an idea thatwould later become the common technology of “hyperlinks” in the computer age. Luhmann himself calledhis system of references a “web-like system.”16 The metaphor of the web also suggests interpreting it alongnetwork-theoretical lines.17

      This so-called link to computer science and prefiguring the internet is a bit too credulous here. Vannevar Bush prefigured the idea in 1945, but one can look back further to Konrad Gessner centuries before to make the same connections.

    4. Three types of linking can be distinguished:a) References in the context of a larger structural outline: When beginning a major line of thoughtLuhmann sometimes noted on the first card several of the aspects to be addressed and marked themby a capital letter that referred to a card (or set of consecutive cards) that was numbered accordinglyand placed at least in relative proximity to the card containing the outline. This structure comesclosest to resembling the outline of an article or the table of contents of a book and therefore doesn’treally use the potentials of the collection as a web of notes.b) Collective references: At the beginning of a section devoted to a specific subject area, one can oftenfind a card that refers to a number of other cards in the collection that have some connection withthe subject or concept addressed in that section. A card of this kind can list up to 25 references andwill typically specify the respective subject or concept in addition to the number. These referencescan indicate cards that are related by subject matter and in close proximity or to cards that are farapart in other sections of the collection, the latter being the normal case.c) Single references: At a particular place in a normal note Luhmann often made a reference to anothercard in the collection that was also relevant to the special argument in question; in most cases the re

      ferred card is located at an entirely different place in the file, frequently in the context of a completely different discussion or subject.

      Niklas Luhmann's index card system had three different types of links. Direct links to individual notes, outlines with links to cards (similar to tables of contents or maps of content), and what Schmidt (2018) refers to as "collective references". These collective references sound a lot like search queries for related topics that have links to a variety of resources/cards related to a particular topic and sound like a table of contents, but without a specific hierarchy.

    1. But this is not the main reason. The other three programs try to achieve the connection or linking between different topics or cards (mainly) by assigning keywords. But this is not what Luhmann's approach recommended. While he did have a register of keywords, this was certainly not the most important way of interconnecting his slips. He linked them by direct references (Verweisungen). Any slip could refer directly to the physical and unchanging location of any other slip.

      Niklas Luhmann's zettelkasten had three different forms of links.

      • The traditional keyword index/link from the commonplace book tradition
      • A parent/child link upon first placing the idea into the system (except when starting a new top level parent)
      • A direct link (Verweisungen) to one or more ideas already in the index card catalog.

      Many note taking systems are relying on the older commonplace book taxonomies and neglect or forego both of the other two sorts of links. While the second can be safely subsumed as a custom, one-time version of the third, the third version is the sort of link which helps to create a lot of direct value within a note taking system as the generic links between broader topic heading names can be washed out over time as the system grows.

      Was this last link type included in Konrad Gessner's version? If not, at what point in time did this more specific direct link evolve?

  21. Dec 2021
    1. https://luhmann.surge.sh/learning-how-to-read

      Learning How to Read by Niklas Luhmann

      Not as dense as Mortimer J. Adler's advice, but differentiates reading technical material versus poetry and novels. Moves to the topic of some of the value of note taking as a means of progressive summarization which may have implications for better remembering material.

    2. In narrative texts, the unity of the text is the result of a tension; it results from ignorance of the future which the reader is constantly [made] aware of; but it is also the result of a backward movement since, as Jean Paul noted, the resolution of the tension depends on the fact that the reader must be able to recur to parts of the text he has already read.

      Niklas Luhmann is broadly quoting Jean Paul here. It should be noted that Jean Paul was a notable user of a note taking method very similar to that of the zettelkasten. What evidence, if any, exists for the connection between their systems. Was Jean Paul's system widely known during or after his own lifetime?

    1. https://luhmann.surge.sh/communicating-with-slip-boxes Communicating with Slip Boxes: An Empirical Account by Niklas Luhmann (transl. Manfred Kuehn)

    2. The slip box provides combinatorial possibilities which were never planned, never preconceived, or conceived in this way.

      This is a reframing of some of Raymond Llull's work into the zettelkasten context.

    3. Usually it is more fruitful to look for formulations of problems that relate heterogeneous things with each other.

      A great quote, but this is likely a nebulous statement to those with out the experience of practice. Definitely worth expanding on this idea to give it more detail.

    4. Bibliographical notes which we extract from the literature, should be captured inside the card index. Books, articles, etc., which we have actually read, should be put on a separate slip with bibliographical information in a separate box.

      Ross Ashby's note taking system, also within the field of systems theory, shows the use of an index card set up for bibliographical notes, however in Ashby's case, the primary notes were placed into notebooks and not onto note cards.

      Was there an ancestral link within the systems theory community that was spreading these ideas of note taking or were they (more likely) just so ubiquitous in the academic culture that such a link wouldn't have mattered?

      (Earlier ancestors like Beatrice Webb may have been a more influential link.)

    5. Considering the absence of a systematic order, we must regulate the process of rediscovery of notes, for we cannot rely on our memory of numbers. (The alternation of numbers and alphabetic characters in numbering the slips helps memory and is an optical aid when we search for them, but it is insufficient. Therefore we need a register of keywords that we constantly update.

      Luhmann indicated that one must keep a register of keywords to assist in the rediscovery of notes. This had been the standard within the commonplacing tradition for centuries before him. The potential subtle difference is that he seems to place more value on the placement links between cards as well as other specific links between cards over these subject headings.

      Is it possible to tell from his system which sets of links were more valuable to him? Were there more of these topical heading links than other non-topical heading links between individual cards?

    6. Luhmann, Niklas. "Kommunikation mit Zettelkästen." Öffentliche Meinung und sozialer Wandel/Public Opinion and Social Change. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 1981. 222-228.


      Note the 1981 original publication date.

    1. Luhmann, for sure, had little (if any) awareness of this long tradition. His excerpting habits should not be regarded as a result of cultural inheritance. A direct contact with early modern excerpting systems is not demonstrable, and Luhmann himself never once mentioned them in his publications.

      Alberto Cevolini argues that Niklas Luhmann was unaware of the prior tradition of excerpting, however even his complex numbering system shows incredibly high similarity to the numbering system of houses used in 1770 Vienna near the time at which Konrad Gessner delineated his note taking system which also used excerpting.

      cross reference Markus Krajewski in Paper Machines, chapter 3, page 28:

      By 1777, the government of Lower Austria starts a renewed numbering of houses. “ As many new houses were built after the last conscription which have no number yet, this is also an opportunity for the rectification of the house numbers.” New entries are to be treated as follows: “If for instance three new houses are found between numbers 12 and 13, the first is to be 12a, the second 12b, the third 12c.”

      Given this evidence, it's more likely that Luhmann was taught this system, he researched it, or perhaps like the broader ideas, it was floating around so heavily in the culture of his time and place from centuries earlier that it was simply a natural fit. More evidence about the prevalence for street numbering may be needed from his time period to know how common this general numbering system was.

    2. The card index appeared to be simply what it was: a wooden box for paper slips. On one of these file cards, Luhmann once summarized his own reflections on just such an experience: ‘People come, they see everything and nothing more than that, just like in porn movies; consequently, they leave disappointed’ (Figure 1).8
      1. Cf. Schmidt, ‘Luhmanns Zettelkasten’, 7. The heading of this file card is formulated in form of a question: ‘Geist im Kasten?’ (‘Does Spirit hide in the filing cabinet?’). Obviously, the answer is no. Many thanks to Johannes Schmidt for providing the image of this file card.

      In a zettel in his system entitled "Does Spirit hide in the filing cabinet", Niklas Luhmann wrote the note: "People come, they see everything and nothing more than that, just like in porn movies; consequently, they leave disappointed." This is a telling story about the simplicity of the idea of a slip box (zettelkasten, card catalog, or commonplace book).

      yellowed index card with the identifier 9/8,3 with almost illegible handwriting in German Niklas Luhmann, Zettelkasten II, index card no. 9/8,3

      It's also a testament to the fact that the value of it is in the upfront work that is required in making valuable notes and linking them. Many end up trying out the simple looking system and then wonder why it isn't working for them. The answer is that they're not working for it.