36 Matching Annotations
  1. Jan 2023
    1. Browsing through Walten’s notes also helped Jagersma to get to know the pamphleteer better, even though he is been dead for three hundred years. “The Memoriaelen say a lot about him. I could read how Walten did his research, follow his fascinations, and see the ideas for pieces he was not able to work out anymore. In a way, these two notebooks are a kind of self-portrait.”
    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!!!

    1. May 19, 2004 #1 Hello everyone here at the forum. I want to thank everyone here for all of the helpful and informative advice on GTD. I am a beginner in the field of GTD and wish to give back some of what I have received. What is posted below is not much of tips-and-tricks I found it very helpful in understanding GTD. The paragraphs posted below are from the book Lila, by Robert Pirsig. Some of you may have read the book and some may have not. It’s an outstanding read on philosophy. Robert Pirsig wrote his philosophy using what David Allen does, basically getting everything out of his head. I found Robert Pirsigs writing on it fascinating and it gave me a wider perspective in using GTD. I hope you all enjoy it, and by all means check out the book, Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals. Thanks everyone. arthur

      Arthur introduces the topic of Robert Pirsig and slips into the GTD conversation on 2004-05-19.

      Was this a precursor link to the Pile of Index Cards in 2006?

      Note that there doesn't seem to be any discussion of any of the methods with respect to direct knowledge management until the very end in which arthur returns almost four months later to describe a 4 x 6" card index with various topics he's using for filing away his knowledge on cards. He's essentially recreated the index card based commonplace book suggested by Robert Pirsig in Lila.

    1. Many of the topic cards served as the skeleton for Mediterranean Society and can be usedto study how Goitein constructed his magnum opus. To give just one example, in roll 26 wehave the index cards for Mediterranean Society, chap. 3, B, 1, “Friendship” and “InformalCooperation” (slides 375–99, drawer 24 [7D], 431–51), B, 2, “Partnership and Commenda”(slides 400–451, cards 452–83), and so forth.

      Cards from the topically arranged index cards in Goitein's sub-collection of 20,000 served as the skeleton of his magnum opus Mediterranean Society.

    2. Goitein’s index cards can be divided into two general types: those thatfocus on a specific topic (children, clothing, family, food, weather, etc.) andthose that serve as research tools for the study of the Geniza. 48
    3. It is, however, important to keep in mind that, reflecting the trajectory ofGoitein’s study of the Geniza, there are often two sets of cards for a givensubject, one general and one related to the India Book.44

      Goitein, “Involvement in Geniza Research,” 144.

      Goitein's cards are segmented into two sets: one for subjects and one related to the India Book.

  2. Dec 2022
    1. I’m a screenwriter. One of the reasons I use Obsidian is the ability to hashtag. It sounds so simple, but being able to tag notes with #theme or #sceneideas helps create linkages between notes that would not otherwise be linked. My ZK literally tells me what the movie is really about.

      via u/The_Bee_Sneeze

      Example of someone using Obsidian with a zettelkasten focus to write screenplays.

      Thought the example appears in r/Zettelkasten, one must wonder at how Luhmann-esque such a practice really appears?

    1. Goitein accumulated more than 27,000 index cards in his research work over the span of 35 years. (Approximately 2.1 cards per day.)

      His collection can broadly be broken up into two broad categories: 1. Approximately 20,000 cards are notes covering individual topics generally making of the form of a commonplace book using index cards rather than books or notebooks. 2. Over 7,000 cards which contain descriptions of a single fragment from the Cairo Geniza.

      A large number of cards in the commonplace book section were used in the production of his magnum opus, a six volume series about aspects of Jewish life in the Middle Ages, which were published as A Mediterranean Society: The Jewish communities of the Arab World as Portrayed in the Documents of the Cairo Geniza (1967–1993).

  3. Nov 2022
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ueMHkGljK0

      Robert Greene's method goes back to junior high school when he was practicing something similar. He doesn't say he invented it, and it may be likely that teachers modeled some of the system for him. He revised the system over time to make it work for himself.


      • [x] Revisit this for some pull quotes and fine details of his method. (Done on 2022-11-08)
    2. Robert Greene: (pruriently) "You want to see my index cards?"<br /> Brian Rose: (curiously) Yeah. Can we?? ... This is epic! timestamp

    1. A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial, reason, that "great wits have short memories;" and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day's reading or conversation. There you enter not only your own original thoughts, (which, a hundred to one, are few and insignificant) but such of other men, as you think fit to make your own, by entering them there. For, take this for a rule, when an author is in your books, you have the same demand upon him for his wit, as a merchant has for your money, when you are in his. By these few and easy prescriptions, (with the help of a good genius) it is possible you may, in a short time, arrive at the accomplishments of a poet, and shine in that character[3].

      "Nullum numen abest si sit prudentia, is unquestionably true, with regard to every thing except poetry; and I am very sure that any man of common understanding may, by proper culture, care, attention, and labour, make himself whatever he pleases, except a good poet." Chesterfield, Letter lxxxi.

      See also: https://en.m.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:The_Works_of_the_Rev._Jonathan_Swift,_Volume_5.djvu/261 as a source


      Swift, Jonathan. The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift. Edited by Thomas Sheridan and John Nichols. Vol. 5. 19 vols. London: H. Baldwin and Son, 1801.

    1. Ronald Reagan notecard

    2. He has a warehouse of notecards with ideas and stories and quotes and facts and bits of research, which get pulled and pieced together then proofread and revised and trimmed and inspected and packaged and then shipped.

      While the ancients thought of the commonplace as a storehouse of value or a treasury, modern knowledge workers and content creators might analogize it to a factory where one stores up ideas in a warehouse space where they can be easily accessed, put into a production line where those ideas can be assembled, revised, proofread, and then package and distributed to consumers (readers).

      (summary)

    3. In this article, I am going to explain my adapted version of the notecard system.

      Note that he explicitly calls out that his is an adapted version of a preexisting thing--namely a system that was taught to Ryan Holiday who was taught by Robert Greene.

      Presumably there is both some economic and street cred value for the author/influencer in claiming his precedents.

      It's worth noting that he mentions other famous users, though only the smallest fraction of them with emphasis up front on his teachers whose audience he shares financially.

    4. The Notecard System

      This is almost pitched as a product with the brand name "The Notecard System".

  4. Oct 2022
    1. I feel sympathy for Robert Southey, whose excerpts from his voracious reading were posthumously published in four volumes as Southey’s Common-Place Book. He confessed in 1822 that,Like those persons who frequent sales, and fill their houses with useless purchases, because they may want them some time or other; so am I for ever making collections, and storing up materials which may not come into use till the Greek Calends. And this I have been doing for five-and-twenty years! It is true that I draw daily upon my hoards, and should be poor without them; but in prudence I ought now to be working up these materials rather than adding to so much dead stock.
    2. Before the Xerox machine, this was a labour-intensive counsel of perfection; and it is no wonder that many of the great 19th-century historians employed professional copyists.

      According to Keith Thomas, "many of the great 19th-century historians employed professional copyists" as a means of keeping up with filing copies of their note slips under multiple subject headings.

    1. http://www.greyroom.org/issues/60/20/the-dialectic-of-the-university-his-masters-voice/

      “The Indexers pose with the file of Great Ideas. At sides stand editors [Mortimer] Adler (left) and [William] Gorman (right). Each file drawer contains index references to a Great Idea. In center are the works of the 71 authors which constitute the Great Books.” From “The 102 Great Ideas: Scholars Complete a Monumental Catalog,” Life 24, no. 4 (26 January 1948). Photo: George Skadding.

    1. Index cards for commonplacing?

      I know that Robert Greene and Ryan Holiday have talked about their commonplace methods using index cards before, and Mortimer J. Adler et al. used index cards with commonplacing methods in their Great Books/Syntopicon project, but is anyone else using this method? Where or from whom did you learn/hear about using index cards? What benefits do you feel you're getting over a journal or notebook-based method? Mortimer J. Adler smoking a pipe amidst a sea of index cards in boxes with 102 topic labels (examples: Law, World, Love, Life, Being, Sin, Art, Citizen, Change, etc.)

    1. Breitenbach, H. P. “The Card Index for Teachers.” The School Review 20, no. 4 (1912): 271–72.


      Apparently in 1912, the card index was little known to teachers... this isn't the sort of use case I was expecting here...

      The general gist of this short note is an encouraging one to suggest that instead of traditional grade books, which are still used heavily in 2022, teachers should use rolodex like cards for keeping attendance and notes on a student's progress.

      Presumably this never caught on. While some elementary teachers still use older paper gradebooks, many others have transferred to digital LMS platforms.

  5. Sep 2022
    1. More important is the fact that recently some publishershave started to publish suitable publications not as solid books, but as file card collections.An example would be the Deutscher Karteiverlag [German File Card Publishing Company]from Berlin, which published a “Kartei der praktischen Medizin” [File Card of PracticalMedicine], published unter the co-authorship of doctors like R.F. Weiß, 1st edition (1930ff.).Not to be forgotten here is also: Schuster, Curt: Iconum Botanicarum Index, 1st edition,Dresden: Heinrich 1926

      As many people used slip boxes in 1930s Germany, publishers sold texts, not as typical books, but as file card collections!

      Link to: Suggestion that Scott Scheper publish his book on zettelkasten as a zettelkasten.

  6. Aug 2022
    1. Protect it at all costs. As the historian Douglas Brinkley said about Ronald Reagan’s collection of notecards: “If the Reagans’ home in Palisades were burning, this would be one of the things Reagan would immediately drag out of the house. He carried them with him all over like a carpenter brings their tools. These were the tools for his trade.”

      Another example of saving one's commonplace in case of a fire!

      link to: - https://hypothes.is/a/BLL9TvZ9EeuSIrsiWKCB9w - https://hypothes.is/a/zHUghMiaEeuKKvcrc5ux5w

    2. I’ve been keeping my commonplace books in variety of forms for 6 or 7 years. But I’m just getting started.

      In August 2013 Ryan Holiday said that he'd been commonplacing for "6 or 7 years".

    3. Ronald Reagan actually kept quotes on a similar notecard system.

      By at least 2013 Ryan Holiday was aware of Ronald Reagan's note card system from a 2011 USA Today article and related book.

    4. I use 4×6 ruled index cards, which Robert Greene introduced me to. I write the information on the card, and the theme/category on the top right corner. As he figured out, being able to shuffle and move the cards into different groups is crucial to getting the most out of them.

      Ryan Holiday keeps a commonplace book on 4x6 inch ruled index cards with a theme or category written in the top right corner. He learned his system from Robert Greene.

      Of crucial importance to him was the ability to shuffle the cards and move them around.

    1. It's several thousand 4x6 notecards—based on a system taught to by my mentor Robert Greene when I was his research assistant—that have ideas, notes on books I liked, quotes that caught my attention, research for projects or phrases I am kicking around.

      Ryan Holiday learned his index card-based commonplace book system from writer Robert Greene for whom he worked as an assistant.

  7. Jul 2022
  8. Jun 2022
    1. u/sscheper in writing your book, have you thought about the following alternative publishing idea which I'm transcribing from a random though I put on a card this morning?

      I find myself thinking about people publishing books in index card/zettelkasten formats. Perhaps Scott Scheper could do this with his antinet book presented in a traditional linear format, but done in index cards with his numbers, links, etc. as well as his actual cards for his index at the end so that readers could also see the power of the system by holding it in their hands and playing with it?

      It could be done roughly like Edward Powys Mathers' Cain's Jawbone or Henry Korn's Pontoon Manifesto? Perhaps numbered consecutively to make it easier to bring back into that format, but also done with your zk numbering so that people could order it and use it that way too? This way you get the book as well as a meta artifact of what the book is about as an example of how to do such a thing for yourself. Maybe even make a contest for a better ordering for the book than the one you published it in ?

      Link to: - https://hyp.is/6IBzkPfeEeyo9Suq-ZmCKg/www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/

  9. Apr 2022
    1. published under the title‘An Almost Obsessive Relation to Writing Instruments’, which firstappeared in Le Monde in 1973, Barthes describes the method thatguides his use of index cards:I’m content to read the text in question, in a ratherfetishistic way: writing down certain passages,moments, even words which have the power tomove me. As I go along, I use my cards to writedown quotations, or ideas which come to me, asthey do so, curiously, already in the rhythm of asentence, so that from that moment on, things arealready taking on an existence as writing. (1991:181)

      In an interview with Le Monde in 1973, Barthes indicated that while his note taking practice was somewhat akin to that of a commonplace book where one might collect interesting passages, or quotations, he was also specifically writing down ideas which came to him, but doing so in "in the rhythm of a sentence, so that from that moment on, things are already taking on an existence as writing." This indicates that he's already preparing for future publications in which he might use those very ideas and putting them into a more finished form than most might think of when considering shorter fleeting notes used simply as a reminder. By having the work already done, he can easily put his own ideas directly into longer works.


      Was there any evidence that his notes were crosslinked or indexed in a way so that he could more rapidly rearrange his ideas and pre-written thoughts to more easily copy them into longer articles or books?