15 Matching Annotations
  1. Jan 2023
    1. How do you maintain the interdisciplinarity of your zettlekasten? .t3_10f9tnk._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      As humans we're good at separating things based on categories. The Dewey Decimal System systematically separates mathematics and history into disparate locations, but your zettelkasten shouldn't force this by overthinking categories. Perhaps the overlap of math and history is exactly the interdisciplinary topic you're working toward? If this is the case, just put cards into the slip box closest to their nearest related intellectual neighbor—and by this I mean nearest related to you, not to Melvil Dewey or anyone else. Over time, through growth and branching, ideas will fill in the interstitial spaces and neighboring ideas will slowly percolate and intermix. Your interests will slowly emerge into various bunches of cards in your box. Things you may have thought were important can separate away and end up on sparse branches while other areas flourish.

      If you make the (false) choice to separate math and history into different "sections" it will be much harder for them to grow and intertwine in an organic and truly disciplinary way. Universities have done this sort of separation for hundreds of years and as a result, their engineering faculty can be buildings or even entire campuses away from their medical faculty who now want to work together in new interdisciplinary ways. This creates a physical barrier to more efficient and productive innovation and creativity. It's your zettelkasten, so put those ideas right next to each other from the start so they can do the work of serendipity and surprise for you. Do not artificially separate your favorite ideas. Let them mix and mingle and see what comes out of them.

      If you feel the need to categorize and separate them in such a surgical fashion, then let your index be the place where this happens. This is what indices are for! Put the locations into the index to create the semantic separation. Math related material gets indexed under "M" and history under "H". Now those ideas can be mixed up in your box, but they're still findable. DO NOT USE OR CONSIDER YOUR NUMBERS AS TOPICAL HEADINGS!!! Don't make the fatal mistake of thinking this. The numbers are just that, numbers. They are there solely for you to be able to easily find the geographic location of individual cards quickly or perhaps recreate an order if you remove and mix a bunch for fun or (heaven forfend) accidentally tip your box out onto the floor. Each part has of the system has its job: the numbers allow you to find things where you expect them to be and the index does the work of tracking and separating topics if you need that.

      The broader zettelkasten, tools for thought, and creativity community does a terrible job of explaining the "why" portion of what is going on here with respect to Luhmann's set up. Your zettelkasten is a crucible of ideas placed in juxtaposition with each other. Traversing through them and allowing them to collide in interesting and random ways is part of what will create a pre-programmed serendipity, surprise, and combinatorial creativity for your ideas. They help you to become more fruitful, inventive, and creative.

      Broadly the same thing is happening with respect to the structure of commonplace books. There one needs to do more work of randomly reading through and revisiting portions to cause the work or serendipity and admixture, but the end results are roughly the same. With the zettelkasten, it's a bit easier for your favorite ideas to accumulate into one place (or neighborhood) for easier growth because you can move them around and juxtapose them as you add them rather than traversing from page 57 in one notebook to page 532 in another.

      If you use your numbers as topical or category headings you'll artificially create dreadful neighborhoods for your ideas to live in. You want a diversity of ideas mixing together to create new ideas. To get a sense of this visually, play the game Parable of the Polygons in which one categorizes and separates (or doesn't) triangles and squares. The game created by Vi Hart and Nicky Case based on the research of Thomas Schelling provides a solid example of the sort of statistical mechanics going on with ideas in your zettelkasten when they're categorized rigidly. If you rigidly categorize ideas and separate them, you'll drastically minimize the chance of creating the sort of useful serendipity of intermixed and innovative ideas.

      It's much harder to know what happens when you mix anthropology with complexity theory if they're in separate parts of your mental library, but if those are the things that get you going, then definitely put them right next to each other in your slip box. See what happens. If they're interesting and useful, they've got explicit numerical locators and are cross referenced in your index, so they're unlikely to get lost. Be experimental occasionally. Don't put that card on Henry David Thoreau in the section on writers, nature, or Concord, Massachusetts if those aren't interesting to you. Besides everyone has already done that. Instead put him next to your work on innovation and pencils because it's much easier to become a writer, philosopher, and intellectual when your family's successful pencil manufacturing business can pay for you to attend Harvard and your house is always full of writing instruments from a young age. Now you've got something interesting and creative. (And if you must, you can always link the card numerically to the other transcendentalists across the way.)

      In case they didn't hear it in the back, I'll shout it again: ACTIVELY WORK AGAINST YOUR NATURAL URGE TO USE YOUR ZETTELKASTEN NUMBERS AS TOPICAL HEADINGS!!!

  2. Oct 2022
    1. Underlining Keyterms and Index Bloat .t3_y1akec._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      Hello u/sscheper,

      Let me start by thanking you for introducing me to Zettelkasten. I have been writing notes for a week now and it's great that I'm able to retain more info and relate pieces of knowledge better through this method.

      I recently came to notice that there is redundancy in my index entries.

      I have two entries for Number Line. I have two branches in my Math category that deals with arithmetic, and so far I have "Addition" and "Subtraction". In those two branches I talk about visualizing ways of doing that, and both of those make use of and underline the term Number Line. So now the two entries in my index are "Number Line (Under Addition)" and "Number Line (Under Subtraction)". In those notes I elaborate how exactly each operation is done on a number line and the insights that can be derived from it. If this continues, I will have Number Line entries for "Multiplication" and "Division". I will also have to point to these entries if I want to link a main note for "Number Line".

      Is this alright? Am I underlining appropriately? When do I not underline keyterms? I know that I do these to increase my chances of relating to those notes when I get to reach the concept of Number Lines as I go through the index but I feel like I'm overdoing it, and it's probably bloating it.

      I get "Communication (under Info. Theory): '4212/1'" in the beginning because that is one aspect of Communication itself. But for something like the number line, it's very closely associated with arithmetic operations, and maybe I need to rethink how I populate my index.

      Presuming, since you're here, that you're creating a more Luhmann-esque inspired zettelkasten as opposed to the commonplace book (and usually more heavily indexed) inspired version, here are some things to think about:<br /> - Aren't your various versions of number line card behind each other or at least very near each other within your system to begin with? (And if not, why not?) If they are, then you can get away with indexing only one and know that the others will automatically be nearby in the tree. <br /> - Rather than indexing each, why not cross-index the cards themselves (if they happen to be far away from each other) so that the link to Number Line (Subtraction) appears on Number Line (Addition) and vice-versa? As long as you can find one, you'll be able to find them all, if necessary.

      If you look at Luhmann's online example index, you'll see that each index term only has one or two cross references, in part because future/new ideas close to the first one will naturally be installed close to the first instance. You won't find thousands of index entries in his system for things like "sociology" or "systems theory" because there would be so many that the index term would be useless. Instead, over time, he built huge blocks of cards on these topics and was thus able to focus more on the narrow/niche topics, which is usually where you're going to be doing most of your direct (and interesting) work.

      Your case sounds, and I see it with many, is that your thinking process is going from the bottom up, but that you're attempting to wedge it into a top down process and create an artificial hierarchy based on it. Resist this urge. Approaching things after-the-fact, we might place information theory as a sub-category of mathematics with overlaps in physics, engineering, computer science, and even the humanities in areas like sociology, psychology, and anthropology, but where you put your work on it may depend on your approach. If you're a physicist, you'll center it within your physics work and then branch out from there. You'd then have some of the psychology related parts of information theory and communications branching off of your physics work, but who cares if it's there and not in a dramatically separate section with the top level labeled humanities? It's all interdisciplinary anyway, so don't worry and place things closest in your system to where you think they fit for you and your work. If you had five different people studying information theory who were respectively a physicist, a mathematician, a computer scientist, an engineer, and an anthropologist, they could ostensibly have all the same material on their cards, but the branching structures and locations of them all would be dramatically different and unique, if nothing else based on the time ordered way in which they came across all the distinct pieces. This is fine. You're building this for yourself, not for a mass public that will be using the Dewey Decimal System to track it all down—researchers and librarians can do that on behalf of your estate. (Of course, if you're a musician, it bears noting that you'd be totally fine building your information theory section within the area of "bands" as a subsection on "The Bandwagon". 😁)

      If you overthink things and attempt to keep them too separate in their own prefigured categorical bins, you might, for example, have "chocolate" filed historically under the Olmec and might have "peanut butter" filed with Marcellus Gilmore Edson under chemistry or pharmacy. If you're a professional pastry chef this could be devastating as it will be much harder for the true "foodie" in your zettelkasten to creatively and more serendipitously link the two together to make peanut butter cups, something which may have otherwise fallen out much more quickly and easily if you'd taken a multi-disciplinary (bottom up) and certainly more natural approach to begin with. (Apologies for the length and potential overreach on your context here, but my two line response expanded because of other lines of thought I've been working on, and it was just easier for me to continue on writing while I had the "muse". Rather than edit it back down, I'll leave it as it may be of potential use to others coming with no context at all. In other words, consider most of this response a selfish one for me and my own slip box than as responsive to the OP.)

  3. May 2022
    1. Even if we can capture patterns and overcome sharing, we might come back to consider the commonplace book.

      How cool would it be if we could aggregate old commonplace books to create indicators of how often older books were not only read, but which annotations resonated with their readers during subsequent periods of history and overlay them in some visual way? Something like a historical version of Amazon Kindle's indicators that a certain number of readers have highlighted a particular sentence of a book.

    1. American journalist, author, and filmmaker Sebastian Junger oncewrote on the subject of “writer’s block”: “It’s not that I’m blocked. It’sthat I don’t have enough research to write with power and knowledgeabout that topic. It always means, not that I can’t find the right words,[but rather] that I don’t have the ammunition.”7

      7 Tim Ferriss, Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers (New York: HarperCollins, 2017), 421.

      relate this to Eminem's "stacking ammo".

  4. Dec 2021
    1. It is an important fact that the Bibliotheca Universalis addresses a dual audience with this technology of indexing: on the one hand, it aims at librarians with its extensive and far-reaching bibliography; on the other hand, it goes to didactic lengths to instruct young scholars in the proper organization of their studies, that is, keeping excerpted material in useful order. In this dual aim, the Bibliotheca Universalis unites a scholar ’ s com-munication with library technology, before these directions eventually branch out into the activity of library professionals on the one hand and the private and discreet practices of scholarship on the other hand

      Konrad Gessner's Bibliotheca Universalis has two audiences: librarians for it's extensive bibliography and scholars for the instruction of how to properly organize their studies by excerpting material and keeping it in a useful order.

  5. Aug 2021
    1. https://kimberlyhirsh.com/2019/04/01/dissertating-in-the.html

      A description of some of Kimiberly Hirsh's workflow in keeping a public research notebook (or commonplace book).

      I'd be curious to know what type of readership and response she's gotten from this work in the past. For some it'll bet it's possibly too niche for a lot of direct feedback, but some pieces may be more interesting than others.

      Did it help her organize her thoughts and reuse the material later on?

    1. The foregoing studies suggest two strands of commonplacing circa 1700. The first was thecollection of authoritative knowledge, usually in the form of quotations. The second was thecollection of personal or natural knowledge, with Francis Bacon’s lists, desiderata and apho-risms serving as early examples. While Moss has shown that the first strand was losing popular-ity by the 1680s, recent scholarship has shown that the second retained momentum through theeighteenth century,9especially in scientific dictionaries,10instructional cards,11catalogues,12

      loose-leaf manuscripts,13syllabi14and, most especially, notebooks.15

      There are two strands of commonplacing around 1700: one is the traditional collection of authoritative knowledge while the second was an emergent collection of more personal knowledge and exploration.

    1. One might weU see a further example of this process in the incorporation into Alsted's Consiliarius académicas et schohsticus (1610) of a category of random, day-to-day observations and reading notes ("ephemerides" or "diaria").

      Is this similar to the mixing of a daily journal page with note taking seen in systems like Roam Research and the way some use Obsidian?

  6. Jul 2021
    1. There's apparently a product that will turn one's Roam Research notes into a digital garden.

      Great to see a bridge for making these things easier for the masses, but I have to think that there's a better and cheaper way. Perhaps some addition competition in the space will help bring the price down.

    1. Revisiting this essay to review it in the framing of digital gardens.

      In a "gardens and streams" version of this metaphor, the stream is flow and the garden is stock.

      This also fits into a knowledge capture, growth, and innovation framing. The stream are small atomic ideas flowing by which may create new atomic ideas. These then need to be collected (in a garden) where they can be nurtured and grow into new things.

      Clippings of these new growth can be placed back into the stream to move on to other gardeners. Clever gardeners will also occasionally browse through the gardens of others to see bigger picture versions of how their gardens might become.

      Proper commonplacing is about both stock and flow. The unwritten rule is that one needs to link together ideas and expand them in places either within the commonplace or external to it: essays, papers, articles, books, or other larger structures which then become stock for others.

      While some creators appear to be about all stock in the modern era, it's just not true. They're consuming streams (flow) from other (perhaps richer) sources (like articles, books, television rather than social media) and building up their own stock in more private (or at least not public) places. Then they release that article, book, film, television show which becomes content stream for others.

      While we can choose to create public streams, but spending our time in other less information dense steams is less useful. Better is to keep a reasonably curated stream to see which other gardens to go visit.

      Currently is the online media space we have structures like microblogs and blogs (and most social media in general) which are reasonably good at creating streams (flow) and blogs, static sites, and wikis which are good for creating gardens (stock).

      What we're missing is a structure with the appropriate and attendant UI that can help us create both a garden and a stream simultaneously. It would be nice to have a wiki with a steam-like feed out for the smaller attendant ideas, but still allow the evolutionary building of bigger structures, which could also be placed into the stream at occasional times.

      I can imagine something like a MediaWiki with UI for placing small note-like ideas into other streams like Twitter, but which supports Webmention so that ideas that come back from Twitter or other consumers of one's stream can be placed into one's garden. Perhaps in a Zettelkasten like way, one could collect atomic notes into their wiki and then transclude those ideas into larger paragraphs and essays within the same wiki on other pages which might then become articles, books, videos, audio, etc.

      Obsidian, Roam Research do a somewhat reasonable job on the private side and have some facility for collecting data, but have no UI for sharing out into streams.

  7. Feb 2021
    1. a MD notebook like Athens Research (another open collab project that makes a bi-directional linking markdown notebook, they even call it a Memex but their focus is more on the notebook and research side than on the data collection and annotation end that WorldBrain is focused on See here for AthensResearch/Athens vision: https://github.com/athensresearch/athens/blob/master/VISION.md 6 roadmap/mindmap: https://whimsical.com/TCeXP1dpRkdT8rpMvYci2P 4 notion: https://www.notion.so/Athens-67e1c6068cb449ff935d10e882fd9b05 1 they use clojurescript and datascript (which I have worked with professionally in the past, it is ideal for the backlinking notes graph problem they solve and is the same tech behind Roam which is closed-source software they are aiming to provide and opensource alternative for)

      I've heard one or two mentions of Athens before, but don't think I've actively bookmarked it. Here are some of the primary references.


      This word is exactly the point. What if this web page were a public thing within Roam? Then other people's notebooks could comment within their own, but using notifications (via Webmention) could be placed into a comments section at the bottom of one's page or even done inline on the portions they're commenting on using block references.

    2. In other words, Roam could be the thing the scientist uses for fun to organize their book notes, or they could also be the thing that same scientist uses at work to collaborate with colleagues on discovering new truths, paid for by their employer.

      But why can't it do both?

      Because it's on the same platform, they could allow people to make their notes public and shareable. They could add Webmention support so that one notebook could talk to another!

      C'mon people!!? Don't you remember the dream of the Memex?

    3. Personal todo lists don’t depend on others using the same system (no network effects)

      They don't unless you're building a wiki or commonplace book that can interact with those of others. (Roam research isn't doing this---yet, but they should.) Ideally small building block pieces will allow it to dovetail with other systems that could potentially do the same thing.