143 Matching Annotations
  1. May 2023
    1. Requesting advice for where to put a related idea to a note I'm currently writing .t3_13gcbj1._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } Hi! I am new to building a physical ZK. Would appreciate some help.Pictures here: https://imgur.com/a/WvyNVXfI have a section in my ZK about the concept of "knowledge transmission" (4170/7). The below notes are within that section.I am currently writing a note about how you have to earn your understanding... when receiving knowledge / learning from others. (Picture #1)Whilst writing this note, I had an idea that I'm not quite sure belongs on that note itself - and I'm not sure where it belongs. About how you also have to "earn" the sharing of knowledge. (Picture #2)Here are what I think my options are for writing about the idea "you have to earn your sharing of knowledge":Write this idea on my current card. 4170/7/1Write this idea on a new note - as a variant idea of my current note. 4170/7/1aWrite this idea on a new note - as a continuation of my current note. 4170/7/1/1Write this idea on a new note - as a new idea within my "knowledge transmission" branch. 4170/7/2What would you do here?

      reply to u/throwthis_throwthat at https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/13gcbj1/requesting_advice_for_where_to_put_a_related_idea/

      I don't accept the premise of your question. This doesn't get said often enough to people new to zettelkasten practice: Trust your gut! What does it say? You'll learn through practice that there are no "right" answers to these. Put a number on it, file it, and move on. Practice, practice, practice. You'll be doing this in your sleep soon enough. As long as it's close enough, you'll find it. Save your mental cycles for deeper thoughts than this.

      Asking others for their advice is fine, but it's akin to asking a well-practiced mnemonist what visual image they would use to remember something. Everyone is different and has different experiences and different things that make their memories sticky for them. What works incredibly well for how someone else thinks and the level of importance they give an idea is never as useful or as "true" as how you think about it. Going with your gut is going to help you remember it better and is far likelier to make it easier to find in the future.

    1. Jared Henderson writes excerpted ideas in block capital letters and his own observations and thoughts in small print as a means of distinguishing his own ideas from others.

      Others might do this using other means: fonts, color, writing instrument, etc.

    1. I highly recommend notebooks for writers, a small one if one has to be out on a job all day, a larger one if one has the luxury of staying at home.

      from Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction

    1. The bee plunders the flowers here and there, but afterwards they make of them honey, which is all theirs; it is no longer thyme or marjoram. Even so with the pieces borrowed from others; he will transform and blend them to make a work that is all his own, to wit, his judgment — The Complete Essays of Michel de Montaigne

      Cross reference with Seneca's note taking metaphors with apes.

    1. Note taking should serve a specific purpose; it should be a means to some end.

    2. Writing permanent notes was time consuming as f***.

      The framing of "permanent notes" or "evergreen notes" has probably hurt a large portion of the personal knowledge management space. Too many people are approaching these as some sort of gold standard without understanding their goal or purpose. Why are you writing such permanent/evergreen notes? Unless you have an active goal to reuse a particular note for a specific purpose, you're probably wasting your time. The work you put into the permanent note is to solidify an idea which you firmly intend to reuse again in one or more contexts. The whole point of "evergreen" as an idea is that it can actively be reused multiple times in multiple places. If you've spent time refining it to the nth degree and writing it well, then you had better be doing so to reuse it.

      Of course many writers will end up (or should end up) properly contextualizing individual ideas and example directly into their finished writing. As a result, one's notes can certainly be rough and ready and don't need to be highly polished because the raw idea will be encapsulated somewhere else and then refined and rewritten directly into that context.

      Certainly there's some benefit for refining and shaping ideas down to individual atomic cores so that they might be used and reused in combination with other ideas, but I get the impression that some think that their notes need to be highly polished gems. Even worse, they feel that every note should be this way. This is a dreadful perspective.

      For context I may make 40 - 60 highlights and annotations on an average day of reading. Of these, I'll review most and refine or combine a few into better rougher shape. Of this group maybe 3 - 6 will be interesting enough to turn into permanent/evergreen notes of some sort that might be reused. And even at this probably only one is interesting enough to be placed permanently into my zettelkasten. This one will likely be an aggregation of many smaller ideas combined with other pre-existing ideas in my collection; my goal is to have the most interesting and unique of my own ideas in my permanent collection. The other 2 or 3 may still be useful later when I get to the creation/writing stage when I'll primarily focus on my own ideas, but I'll use those other rougher notes and the writing in them to help frame and recontextualize the bigger ideas so that the reader will be in a better place to understand my idea, where it comes from, and why it might be something they should find interesting.

      Thus some of my notes made while learning can be reused in my own ultimate work to help others learn and understand my more permanent/evergreen notes.

      If you think that every note you're making should be highly polished, refined, and heavily linked, then you're definitely doing this wrong. Hopefully a few days of attempting this will disabuse you of the notion and you'll slow down to figure out what's really worth keeping and maintaining. You can always refer back to rough notes if you need to later, but polishing turds is often thankless work. Sadly too many misread or misunderstand articles and books on the general theory of note taking and overshoot the mark thinking that the theory needs to be applied to every note. It does not.

      If you find that you're tiring of making notes and not getting anything out of the process, it's almost an assured sign that you're doing something wrong. Are you collecting thousands of ideas (bookmarking behavior) and not doing anything with them? Are you refining and linking low level ideas of easy understanding and little value? Take a step back and focus on the important and the new. What are you trying to do? What are you trying to create?

    3. I used Apple Notes, Evernote, Roam, Obsidian, Bear, Notion, Anki, RemNote, the Archive and a few others. I was pondering about different note types, fleeting, permanent, different organisational systems, hierarchical, non-hierarchical, you know the deal. I often felt lost about what to takes notes on and what not to take notes on.

      Example of someone falling prey to shiny object syndrome, switching tools incessantly, then focusing on too many of the wrong things/minutiae and getting lost in the shuffle.

      Don't get caught up into this. Understand the basics of types of notes, but don't focus on them. Let them just be. Does what you've written remind you of the end goal?

    1. I'm not actually setting a productivity goal, I'm just tracking metadata because it's related to my research. Of which the ZettelKasten is one subject.That being said, in your other post you point to "Quality over Quantity" what, in your opinion, is a quality note?Size? Number of Links? Subjective "goodness"?

      reply to u/jordynfly at https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/13b0b5c/comment/jjcu3cn/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

      I'm curious what your area of research is? What are you studying with respect to Zettelkasten?

      Caveat notetarius. Note collections are highly idiosyncratic to the user or intended audience, thus quality will vary dramatically on the creator's needs and future desires and potential uses. Contemporaneous, very simple notes can be valuable for their initial sensemaking and quite often in actual practice stop there.

      Ultimately, only the user can determine perceived quality and long term value for themselves. Future generations of historians, anthropologists, scholars, and readers, might also find value in notes and note collections, but it seems rare that the initial creators have written them with future readers and audiences in mind. Often they're less useful as the external reader is missing large swaths of context.

      For my own personal notes, I consider high quality notes to be well-sourced, highly reusable, easily findable, and reasonably tagged/linked. My favorite, highest quality notes are those that are new ideas which stem from the combination of two high quality notes. With respect to subjectivity, some of my philosophy is summarized by one of my favorite meta-zettels (alt text also available) from zettelmeister Umberto Eco.

      Anecdotally, 95% of my notes are done digitally and in public, but I've only got scant personal evidence that anyone is reading or interacting with them. I never write them with any perceived public consumption in mind (beyond the readers of the finished pieces that ultimately make use of them), but it is often very useful to get comments and reactions to them. I'm only aware of a small handful of people publishing their otherwise personal note collections (usually subsets) to the web (outside of social media presences which generally have a different function and intent).

      Intellectual historians have looked at and documented external use cases of shared note collections, commonplace books, annotated volumes, and even diaries. There are even examples of published (usually posthumously) commonplace books, waste books, etc., but these are often for influential public and intellectual figures. Here Ludwig Wittgenstein's Zettel, Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project, Vladimir Nabokov's The Original of Laura, Roland Barthes' Mourning Diary, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg's Waste Books, Ralph Waldo Emmerson, Ronald Reagan's card index commonplace, Stobaeus' Anthology, W. H. Auden's A Certain World, and Robert Southey’s Common-Place Book come quickly to mind not to mention digitized scholarly collections of Niklas Luhmann, W. Ross Ashby, S.D. Goitein, Jonathan Edwards' Miscellanies, and Aby Warburg's notes. Some of these latter will give you an idea of what they may have thought quality notes to have been for them, but often they mean little if nothing to the unstudied reader because they lack broader context or indication of linkages.

  2. Apr 2023
    1. Zhao briefly describes Cal Newport's Questions, Evidence, Conclusions (QEC) framework which she uses as a framework for quickly annotating books and then making notes from those annotations later.

      How does QEC differ from strategies in Adler/Van Doren?

    1. Roy Peter Clark, writing scholar and coach at The Poynter Institute, says, “Reports give readers information. Stories give readers experience.” I would add: An article is generic; a story is unique.

      There's something interesting lurking here on note taking practice as well.

      Generic notes for learning may rephrase or summarize an idea int one's own words and are equivalent to basic information or articles as framed by Clark/Keiger. But in building towards something, that goes beyond the basic, one should strive in their notes to elicit experience and generate insight; take the facts and analyze them, create something new, interesting, and unique.

    1. thanks for the comprehensive overview; i'm going back to grad school after working for a couple years, any guides in particular you would recommend for getting up to speed and setting up a good workflow to keep track of articles and other references + store files and notes?

      reply to u/whysofancy at https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/12u8gbv/comment/jh61vqw/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

      My general advice is to keep things as stupidly simple as possible and use as few tools/platforms as you can get away with.

      If you haven't come across them, I highly recommend these two books:

      • 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.
      • Adler, Mortimer J., and Charles Van Doren. How to Read a Book: The Classical Guide to Intelligent Reading. Revised and Updated ed. edition. 1940. Reprint, Touchstone, 2011.

      You might also appreciate the short article by Mills:

      Mills, C. Wright. “On Intellectual Craftsmanship (1952).” Society 17, no. 2 (January 1, 1980): 63–70. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02700062.

      Chances are pretty good your college/university's library does regular tutorials for tools like Zotero, particularly at the beginning of the term. Raul Pacheco has some good notes/ideas which may be helpful for things like literature reviews: http://www.raulpacheco.org/resources/. For Hypothes.is, try starting with this tutorial by their head of education: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09z5hyBMs8s. If you're using Obsidian with Zotero, I'd recommend this walk through https://forum.obsidian.md/t/zotero-zotfile-mdnotes-obsidian-dataview-workflow/15536 and this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbGJH08ZfCs. If you have other tools in mind that you'd like to use, let the community know and perhaps we can make some suggestions about tutorials, but really, just jump in and try something out. Search YouTube and see what you find.

      At the end of the day, start using a tool or two and simply practice with them. Practice, practice, and practice some more as that's what you'll be doing regularly in grad school. Read, write notes, organize them, write short articles or papers as practice. You'll eventually build up enough for a much longer thesis.

    1. one must also submit to the discipline provided by imitationand practice.

      Too many zettelkasten aspirants only want the presupposed "rules" for keeping one or are interested in imitating one or another examples. Few have interest in the actual day to day practice and these are often the most adept. Of course the downside of learning some of the pieces online leaves the learner with some (often broken) subset of rules and one or two examples (often only theoretical) and then wonder why their actual practice is left so wanting.

      link to https://hypothes.is/a/ZeZEgNm8Ee2woUds5QzgOw

    1. any easy strategies to improve my notetaking?

      reply to u/all_flowers_in_time_ at https://www.reddit.com/r/NoteTaking/comments/12g3idj/any_easy_strategies_to_improve_my_notetaking/

      In many ways I was just like you in school...

      Some of it depends on what your notes are for. Are you using them to write things in your own words to increase understanding and tie them into other ideas? Are you using them as reminders? Are you using them to build material for later (papers, articles, write a book, other?) For memorization?

      Your notes look like they've got a Cornell Notes appearance, so perhaps more formally structuring your pages that way will help? Creating sample test questions afterward for practice and recall can be highly useful and force you to create answers which is dramatically more productive than simply reviewing over notes which usually creates a false sense of familiarity.

      If you're using them for memorization, then perhaps convert the notes after lecture into flash cards (physical cards, Anki, Mnemosyne, etc.) that you can use for spaced repetition.

      If you're using them to later create other content, then perhaps a commonplace book or zettelkasten structure may be helpful for cross indexing ideas. If you're not familiar with these, try out the following book which covers all of these use cases and mores:

      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.

      I wish I had been able to do so when I was a student.

    1. To buy or not to buy a course? And, if the latter, which one? .t3_12fowjy._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } questionSo, I've been considering buying an online course for Zettelkasten (in Obsidian). Thing is... There are a bunch of them. Two (maybe three) questions:Is it worth it? Has anyone gone down that path and care to share their experience?Any recommendations? I've seen a bunch of options and really don't have any hints on how to evaluate them.

      reply to u/Accomplished-Tip-597 at https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/12fowjy/to_buy_or_not_to_buy_a_course_and_if_the_latter/

      Which "industry", though? Productivity? Personal Knowledge Management? Neither of these are focused on the idea of a Luhmann-esque specific zettelkastenare they?

      For the original poster, what is your goal in taking a course? What do you want to get out of it? What are you going to use such a system for? The advice you're looking for will hinge on these.

      Everyone's use is going to be reasonably idiosyncratic, so not knowing anything else, my general recommendation (to minimize time, effort, and expense) would be to read one of the following (for free), practice at some of it for a few weeks before you do anything else. Then if you need it, talk u/taurusnoises into a few consultations based on what you'd like to accomplish. He's one of the few who does this who's got experience in the widest variety of traditions in addition to expertise in the platform you want (though I'd still recommend him if you were using something else.)

    1. after decades of using the Zettelkasten it might become impossible to access it from your place at the desk. To mitigate this issue, it is recommended to use normal (thin) paper instead of (thick) index cards.

      After having used his zettelkasten for 26 years, Luhmann mentions that he chose normal paper as his substrate for note taking over thicker index cards to save on storage space and particularly to make it possible to keep more material closer to his desk rather than need to store it at larger distances within his office. This allows more slips per drawer and also tends to have an effect on productivity with respect to daily use and searching.

      One might need to balance this out with frequency of use and slip wear, as some slips in his box show heavy use and wear, especially at the top.

    1. How do I store when coming across an actual FACT? .t3_12bvcmn._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } questionLet's say I am trying to absorb a 30min documentary about the importance of sleep and the term human body cells is being mentioned, I want to remember what a "Cell" is so I make a note "What is a Cell in a Human Body?", search the google, find the definition and paste it into this note, my concern is, what is this note considered, a fleeting, literature, or permanent? how do I tag it...

      reply to u/iamharunjonuzi at https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/12bvcmn/how_do_i_store_when_coming_across_an_actual_fact/

      How central is the fact to what you're working at potentially developing? Often for what may seem like basic facts that are broadly useful, but not specific to things I'm actively developing, I'll leave basic facts like that as short notes on the source/reference cards (some may say literature notes) where I found them rather than writing them out in full as their own cards.

      If I were a future biologist, as a student I might consider that I would soon know really well what a cell was and not bother to have a primary zettel on something so commonplace unless I was collecting various definitions to compare and contrast for something specific. Alternately as a non-biologist or someone that doesn't use the idea frequently, then perhaps it may merit more space for connecting to others?

      Of course you can always have it written along with the original source and "promote" it to its own card later if you feel it's necessary, so you're covered either way. I tend to put the most interesting and surprising ideas into my main box to try to maximize what comes back out of it. If there were 2 more interesting ideas than the definition of cell in that documentary, then I would probably leave the definition with the source and focus on the more important ideas as their own zettels.

      As a rule of thumb, for those familiar with Bloom's taxonomy in education, I tend to leave the lower level learning-based notes relating to remembering and understanding as shorter (literature) notes on the source's reference card and use the main cards for the higher levels (apply, analyze, evaluate, create).

      Ultimately, time, practice, and experience will help you determine for yourself what is most useful and where. Until you've developed a feel for what works best for you, just write it down somewhere and you can't really go too far wrong.

  3. Mar 2023
    1. one can protect by using dictionaries of synonyms and then create enough referencesheets (e.g. Astronomy: cf. Science of the Stars). The only premise for this is that one knowsbeforehand the one location where the sheet belongs in the box.

      use of theausaurus to limit subject headings...

    1. Note-taking techniques I: The index card method<br /> by Raul Pacheco-Vega

      What does his full collection look like? Does he have a larger filing cabinet or boxes or are they all smaller modular boxes?

      How does he handle the variety of sizes here? Particularly the differences between 4 x 6 and 5 x 8 as it sounds like he may use them similarly outside of their size difference.

    1. Poem from the inside back cover of a 1913 Memindex Catalog:


      If you’re going to meet a man<br /> Jot it down<br /> If you’ve got a little plan<br /> Jot it down<br /> If you never can remember<br /> Your requirements for September<br /> ’Till October or November<br /> Jot ’em down.

      If you’ve got a note to pay<br /> Jot it down<br /> If its due the first of May<br /> Jot it down<br /> If collections are so slow<br /> That to meet the note you know<br /> You must dun old Richard Roe<br /> Jot it down

      If you have a happy thought<br /> Jot it down<br /> If there’s something to be bought<br /> Jot it down<br /> Whether duty calls or pleasure<br /> If you’re busy or at leisure<br /> It will help you beyond measure<br /> Jot it down

      If there’re facts that you’d retain<br /> Jot ’em down<br /> If you’ve got to meet a train<br /> Jot it down<br /> If at work or only play<br /> If at home or far away<br /> In the night or in the day<br /> Jot it down

    1. A sentence "this is furthered by note xy." is almost as good of an indicator that the opportunity was passed on as "reminds me of" if there is not exploration. On the contrary, if there is "reminds me of" and a thorough exploration of the connection follows it is perfectly fine.

      One can make links between ideas more explicit using words like x ["supports", "contradicts", "supports", "challenges", "extends", "contradicts", etc] y. However it can be even more useful and beneficial to not only state the connection in the loosest of terms, but to explore and develop what that connection is and how it works. The more explicit one can be, the better.

      If it's a metaphor, analogy, or abstraction, how far can one push those relationships before they collapse? Can the abstraction be encompassed in a mathematical sense that one case completely consumes another?

    1. a Structure Note can make use of a TOC form, a normal table, a mind map, a flow diagram, a straight list, or even a picture.

      Structure notes can take a variety of forms including lists, diagrams, mind maps, tables, and tables of contents.

    1. Yes, you can definitely use a card index for note-taking. In fact, many people find card indexes to be a useful and convenient tool for organizing and storing notes. Here are some tips for using a card index for note-taking:Choose a system: Decide on a system for organizing your cards. You could organize them alphabetically, by topic, by date, or by any other method that works for you.Choose the size of cards: Choose the size of cards that works best for your needs. Common sizes include 3" x 5", 4" x 6", and 5" x 8".Use one card per idea: Write one idea or piece of information on each card. This will help keep your notes organized and easy to reference.Include keywords: Include keywords on each card to make it easier to find relevant information later.Use dividers: Use dividers to separate different topics or sections in your card index. This will help keep your notes organized and easy to navigate.Carry it with you: A card index is a portable tool, so you can take it with you wherever you go. This makes it easy to take notes on the go and to refer to your notes when you need them.Overall, a card index can be a useful and efficient tool for note-taking, especially if you prefer a physical, tangible way of organizing and storing information.

      Q: Can I use a card index for note taking?

      ChatGPT does a reasonable bit of advice on how one would use a card index for note taking.

  4. Feb 2023
    1. Stop Procrastinating With Note-Taking Apps Like Obsidian, Roam, Logseq https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baKCC2uTbRc by Sam Matla

      sophisticated procrastination - tweaking one's system(s) or workflow with the anticipation it will help them in the long run when it is generally almost always make-work which helps them feel smart and/or productive. Having measurable results which can be used against specific goals will help weed this problem out.

    1. If you want one final piece of (unsolicited) advice: if you bulk-import those Kindle highlights, please do not try to create literature Zettels out of everything. I did it and I DO NOT RECOMMEND. It was just too much work to rehash stuff that I had already (kind of) assimilated. Reserve that energy to write permanent notes (you probably know much more than you give yourself credit for) and just use the search function (or [^^]) to search for relevant quotes or notes. Only key and new papers/chapters you could (and should, I think) take literature notes on. Keep it fun!

      Most veteran note takers will advise against importing old notes into a new digital space for the extra amount of administrative overhead and refactoring it can create.

      Often old notes may be: - well assimilated into your memory already - poorly sourced or require lots of work and refactoring to use or reuse them - become a time suck trying to make them "perfect"

      Better advice is potentially pull them into your system in a different spot so they're searchable and potentially linkable/usable as you need them. If this seems like excessive work, and it very well may be, then just pull in individual notes as you need or remember them.

      With any luck the old notes are easily searchable/findable in whichever old system they happen to be in, so they're still accessible.

      I'll note here the conflicting definitions of multiple storage in my tags to mean: - storing a single note under multiple subject headings or index terms - storing notes in various different (uncentralized locations), so having multiple different zettelkasten at home/office, storing some notes in social media locations, in various notebooks, etc. This means you have to search across multiple different interfaces to find the thing you're looking at.

      I should create a new term to distinguish these two, but for now they're reasonably different within their own contexts that it's not a big problem unless one or the other scales.

    1. Of course the metaphor of the bees and their honey is the biggest which we've all failed to mention! It's my favorite because of its age, its location within the tradition of rhetoric and sententiae/ars excerpendi, its prolific use through history, and the way it frames collecting and arranging for the use of creativity and writing.

      In the his classic on rhetoric, Seneca gave an account of his ideas about note-taking in the 84th letter to Luculius ("On Gathering Ideas"). It begins from ut aiunt: "men say", that we should imitate the bees in our reading practice. For as they produce honey from the flowers they visit and then "assort in their cells all that they have brought in", so we should, "sift (separate) whatever we have gathered from a varied course of reading" because things keep better in isolation from one another, an idea which dovetails with ars memoria, the 4th canon of rhetoric.

      "We should follow, men say, the example of the bees, who flit about and cull the flowers that are suitable for producing honey, and then arrange and assort in their cells all that they have brought in; these bees, as our Vergil says: 'pack close the flowering honey And swell their cells with nectar sweet.' "

      Generations later in ~430 CE, Macrobius in his Saturnalia repeated the same idea (he assuredly read Seneca, though he obviously didn't acknowledge him):

      "You should not count it a fault if I shall set out the borrowings from a miscellaneous reading in the authors' own words... sometimes set out plainly in my own words and sometimes faithfully recorded in the actual words of the old writers... We ought in some sort to imitate bees; and just as they, in their wandering to and fro, sip the flowers, then arrange their spoil and distribute it among the honeycombs, and transform the various juices to a single flavor by some mixing with them a property of their own being, so I too shall put into writing all that I have acquired in the varied course of my reading... For not only does arrangement help the memory, but the actual process of arrangement, accompanied by a kind of mental fermentation which serves to season the whole, blends the diverse extracts to make a single flavor; with the result that, even if the sources are evident, what we get in the end is still something clearly different from those known sources."

      Often in manuscripts writers in the middle ages to the Renaissance would draw bees or write 'apes' (Latin for bees) in the margins of their books almost as bookmarks for things they wished to remember or excerpt for their own notes.

      Of course, neither of these classical writers mentions the added benefit that the bees were simultaneously helping to pollenate the flowers, which also enhances the ecosystem.

      • Seneca (2006) Epistles 66-92. With an English translation by Richard G. Gummere. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (Loeb Classical Library), 277-285.
      • Havens, Earle. Commonplace Books: A History of Manuscripts and Printed Books from Antiquity to the Twentieth Century. New Haven, CT: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, 2001.
    1. Some systems require a unique identifier, but the people who are using a datetime stamp or random number anywhere in their (Luhmann-esque) zettelkasten title (here's a good example) are leading you astray. Doubly so if it occurs at the beginning of the title. There are no affordances in this practice and it's more likely to cause problems at scale. Just say no! (Note this is not the same as using a Luhmann-esque identifier at the start of a title as a means of providing a sort order of one's notes held in an individual folder.)

      Are there any reasons for someone to do this?! - perhaps for file name conflicts when digitally inserting notes into a system using third party clients with titles which may cause conflicts (though these could/should be removed later for easier reading); - counterexample: https://hypothes.is/a/Jux0pq7yEe2Uqj9mFXS3nQ - Another potential issue is in shared or collaborative note taking spaces where collision is more likely because others don't have the shared context. - perhaps for forcing sort orders on daily notes or recurring meetings MeetingA YYYY-MM-DD, etc., though these are probably in a separate area of one's box and not in their zettelkasten section.

      The point of a zettelkasten is to provide one help in ordering and building their knowledge, not in ordering their notes by time created. This will rarely (sans database-related use cases perhaps) provide any insight and digital systems have other easier and better ways of doing this if you need it.

      Worse, some systems may not do autocompletion on words in the middle of titles, so starting a card with a datetime can hamper this functionality. One should check this against their particular system.

    1. To cover my knowledge management process would distract you from what works for you. Your question needs more context to be actionable.TL;DR; Whichever knowledge management system gets you paid.I've got 13 notes with the term "knowledge management," 15 with "information gathering," and 7 with "strategic intelligence." Without finishing a MOC, here's off the top of my head:Have a purpose or reason for learning.Ask helpful questions that solve problems.Answer questions as stand-alone notes.Learn from primary sources. Even boring ones.Take notes for your intended audience.Serve a specific audience (get paid.)Write about what people care about.Become a subject matter expert in target areas.Deliver what you know as a service first.Build on your strengths. Knowledge is cheap.It's not a process. More like tips. If demand exists, I'll write a book on the topic in a few years. Might be a good podcast topic.“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” -- Samuel Johnson, The Life of Samuel JohnsonRemember, there is no shortage of knowledge. Managing information is like masturbation; it feels good but doesn't do much. Focus on making information drive goal achievement.

      Some useful and solid advice here.

    1. Beginner question .t3_112wup1._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } I see that a lot of people have the main categories as natural sciences. Social sciences etcCan I switch it toReligionActivitiesFoodOrganizationMad weird thoughtsCommunication

      reply to u/Turbulent-Focus-1389 at https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/112wup1/beginner_question/

      I'd recommend you do your best to stay away from rigid category-like classifications and see what develops. For specifics see: https://boffosocko.com/2023/01/19/on-the-interdisciplinarity-of-zettelkasten-card-numbering-topical-headings-and-indices/

      If it's easier to conceptualize, think of it all like a map which may have place names, but also has numerical coordinates. Sometimes a specific name like Richard Macksey's house is useful, but other times thinking about a specific coordinate and the general neighborhoods around them will be far more useful in your community development plan. A religion-only neighborhood without religious activities, religious food, religious organization or communication will be a a sad one indeed. If you segregate your communities, they're likely not to be very happy places for co-mingling of ideas and the potential resultant creativity you'll get out of them.

      Bob Doto also suggests a similar philosophy in some of his work, particularly with respect to folgezettel: https://writing.bobdoto.computer/zettelkasten/

      I'll note that this is an incredibly hard thing to do at the start, but it's one which you may very well wish you had done from the beginning.

    1. Should you copy a method just because Luhmann used it? No, indeed it doesn’t make sense to copy a method just because it appears sexy. One should find the best fitting method for himself.

      Some in the current zettelkasten space come close to this (Bob Doto comes to mind) while others seem to be more dogmatic. I think people generally ultimately do this in practice, but there is still a lingering sense of orthodoxy.

  5. Jan 2023
    1. Avoid both very long andvery short paragraphs: the length should usually vary from150 to 860 words. Attend carefully to the unity and correctstructure of the paragraph.

      His description of paragraphs from 150 to 350 words is interesting with respect to the amount of material that will fit on a 3x5" inch card during the note taking process.

    1. I've decided I don't care (too much) where new notes go .t3_10mjwq9._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      reply to u/jackbaty at https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/10mjwq9/ive_decided_i_dont_care_too_much_where_new_notes/

      u/jackbaty, If it doesn't make sense for you (yet, or for your specific needs), you can always follow in the footsteps of the hundreds of thousands who used a topical subject heading method of the commonplace book before Luhmann's example shifted the space over the last decade. If it worked for Francis Bacon, you'll probably be alright too... (See: https://boffosocko.com/2022/06/10/reframing-and-simplifying-the-idea-of-how-to-keep-a-zettelkasten/)

      I find that sometimes, it is useful to bank up a few dozen cards before filing/linking them together. Other times I'll file them by category in a commonplace book like system to ruminate a bit only later to move them to a separate Luhmann-esque zettelkasten area where they're more tightly linked with the ideas around them. After you've been doing it a while, it will be easier to more tightly integrate the three-way conversation or argument you're having between yourself, your card index, and the sources you're thinking about (or reading, watching, listening to). You mention that "my brain needs at least some level of structure", and I totally get it, as most of us (myself included) are programmed to work that way. I've written some thoughts on this recently which may help provide some motivation to get you around it: https://boffosocko.com/2023/01/19/on-the-interdisciplinarity-of-zettelkasten-card-numbering-topical-headings-and-indices/

      It helps to have a pointed reason for why you're doing all this in the first place and that reason will dramatically help to shape your practice and its ultimate structure.

    1. It is my cup of tea. Now I'm looking for his practical advice

      He's got a collection of ideas around the area with some useful history: https://boffosocko.com/research/zettelkasten-commonplace-books-and-note-taking-collection/

      His practical advice is usually to quit reading about the theory and do the thing. Choose the simplest path and stick with it a while. See what happens. What's useful? What's not? Practice, practice, practice.

    1. Hints for Preparing Documents Most documents go through several versions (always more than you expected) before they are finally finished. Accordingly, you should do whatever possible to make the job of changing them easy. First, when you do the purely mechanical operations of typing, type so subsequent editing will be easy. Start each sentence on a new line. Make lines short, and break lines at natural places, such as after commas and semicolons, rather than randomly. Since most people change documents by rewriting phrases and adding, deleting and rearranging sentences, these precautions simplify any editing you have to do later. — Brian W. Kernighan, 1974

      —Brian W. Kernighan, 1974 “UNIX for Beginners” [PDF] as Bell Labs Technical Memorandum 74-1273-18 on 29 October 1974.

      For easier editing and reuse of sentences, or even portions of lines of text, one can (and should) write sentences or sentence fragments on their own lines in digital contexts.

      This way future edits or the ability to more easily cut and paste will far easier in addition to keeping your version control files simpler and easier to read and visually track your changes. (That is in many version control systems, instead of a change appearing to affect an entire paragraph, it will only show on the single line that was changed thereby making the change easier to see.)

      This particular affordance may be a particularly useful one for note takers who expect to regularly reuse their notes in other contexts. Many forms of software (including Tex, LaTeX, and even markdown) will autowrap newlines so that a sentence broken up into clauses on multiple lines will properly wrap back into a proper looking single line when printed. Take care that in many Markdown versions adding two spaces at the end of a line will automatically create a newline in your text.

    1. It is not a bad plan for two or more students to meet at stated intervals and compare their notes . The lecture can be discussed so that thepoints omitted or not fully understood can be placed correctly in the notebook against the final test . The chance for error is greatly decreased inthis way and, besides , the discussion greatly aids the memory so that thework of studying from the notes is lessened . In at least one instance wherethe speaker delivered his lecture very rapidly several students arrangedto take his points in relays ; that is, since there was scarcely time for oneman to get all, one man could take the first point, another the second, andso on. These men occupied seats close together so that an exchange ofsignals was possible. Afterwards they discussed each lecture and puttheir notes together.

      Apparently sharing/comparing notes was reasonable advice in 1910 including the idea of in-class signals for splitting up note taking amongst multiple people.

      Compare this to shared notes (Google Docs, Etherpad, etc.) in modern context with multiple people doing simultaneous notes.

    2. It may be an advantage to learn shorthand, as many do , and takethe notes verbatim, but there really is no necessity for taking entire lectures ; in fact lectures may be a disadvantage because they make morework to be gone over.

      Notice the advice for shorthand here in 1910. When was it a dead technology for students? Certainly by the 1980s when it was less frequently taught in schools.

      Even with the ability to do shorthand and get things verbatim, he suggests against it for the sheer volume of material to go over.

      Link to/compare with: - https://hypothes.is/a/gqSGbpVaEe2pmiuwPwm8Vw from 1892

    3. The first injunction is then : Do not try to take the lecture verbatim.
    4. ned the art of notetaking for themselves that this pamphletis prepared. It does not seem wise to attempt to lay down any verystringent rules on the subject. We can only suggest the more generalmethods from which every man can work out his own particular system.
    1. reply to u/IamOkei https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/10bjqjq/how_do_you_generate_unique_notes_i_feel_weird_to/

      You may find value in re-framing your active reading and note taking/annotating as "having a conversation with the text". Adler's essay How to Mark a Book is a good short introduction. If you try this for a while and still have trouble, watch the movie Finding Forrester and try again. If you're still having trouble after this, read through Adler and Van Doren's How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading with a pen(cil) in hand and then try a third time.

    1. I began by committing the basic error of writing my notes on both sides of the page. I soon learned not to do that, but I continued to copy excerpts into notebooks in the order in which I encountered them.
  6. Dec 2022
    1. Is the ZK method worth it? and how it helped you in your projects? .t3_zwgeas._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } questionI am new to ZK method and I'd like to use it for my literature review paper. Altho the method is described as simple, watching all those YT videos about the ZK and softwares make it very complex to me. I want to know how it changed your writing??

      reply to u/Subject_Industry1633 at https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/zwgeas/is_the_zk_method_worth_it_and_how_it_helped_you/ (and further down)

      ZK is an excellent tool for literature reviews! It is a relative neologism (with a slightly shifted meaning in English over the past decade with respect to its prior historical use in German) for a specific form of note taking or commonplacing that has generally existed in academia for centuries. Excellent descriptions of it can be found littered around, though not under a specific easily searchable key word or phrase, though perhaps phrases like "historical method" or "wissenschaftlichen arbeitens" may come closest.

      Some of the more interesting examples of it being spelled out in academe include:

      For academic use, anecdotally I've seen very strong recent use of the general methods most compellingly demonstrated in Obsidian (they've also got a Discord server with an academic-focused channel) though many have profitably used DevonThink and Tinderbox (which has a strong, well-established community of academics around it) as much more established products with dovetails into a variety of other academic tools. Obviously there are several dozens of newer tools for doing this since about 2018, though for a lifetime's work, one might worry about their longevity as products.

    1. In my line of work as a writer, there’s a near endless stream of new applications coming out that touch different stages in my workflow: e-book readers, notetaking apps, tools for managing PDFs, word processors, bibliographic databases. The problem is that it’s very tricky to switch horses midstream with these kinds of tools, which means you have a natural tendency to get locked into a particular configuration, potentially missing out on better approaches.

      Steven Johnson indicates that it can be difficult to change workflows, tools, apps, etc.

    1. Fact-based disciplines such as natural sciences have less potential for deeply linked, atomic zettel notes than arts and humanities. There is not much to discuss about or 'generate insight' on photosynthesis, algebra or network protocols if you are not a scientist.

      Again note taking is the wrong tool for fact-based acquisition. Apparently this is not advice given in most sources. Spaced repetition and mnemonic methods are far better suited for memorizing and remembering basic facts.

      Take notes on the surprising and unique. Take notes as writing you'll reuse later. Take notes to understand.

    2. There are different kinds of information, some of which don't make sense being recorded at all. I was struggling with what to record and what not to record for a long time. For example, I took notes on programming syntax that are just useless (most of these things can be googled in seconds and they are usually decently documented already).

      How was this not obvious from the jump? Was the author of the essay so distracted by shiny object syndrome they failed to see the obvious?

      It's like taking notes in a language class... the goal is to read and write with fluency, so you practice these things regularly and gain fluency over time. Taking notes about the grammar and syntax of a language is highly unlikely to get you to fluency. Note taking is the wrong tool for a number of processes and the user should very quickly get a gut feeling for what's useful and what is not.

      This author obviously missed the boat here.

    1. Reply to:

      Who is Zettelkasten note-taking system for? <br /> u/Beens__<br /> https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/zhyu5i/who_is_zettelkasten_notetaking_system_for/

      Perhaps your use case may benefit from knowing the longer term outcomes of such processes, particularly as they relate to idea generation and innovation within your areas of interest? Keeping notes which you review over periodically and between which you create potential links will help to foster more productive long term combinatorial creativity, which will help you create new and potentially useful ideas much more quickly than blank page-based brainstorming.

      Her method was much more ad hoc than the more highly refined methods of Luhmann which allowed him to write, but perhaps there's something you might appreciate from the example of the character Tess McGill in the movie Working Girl. Even more base in practice is that of Eminem, which shows far less structure, but could still have interesting long term creativity effects, though again, it bears repeating that one should occasionally revisit their notes (even if they're only in "headline form") in attempts to refresh their memory and link old ideas to new to generate completely new ideas.

    1. I also know that I have um effectively eclectomania in terms of I can click and capture stuff or clip it clip out stuff 01:26:48 faster than I can really as a minimum process it's such that oh that's an interesting link right I've read the abstract or I've read this 01:27:00 intro paragraph Yes I want that so I capture it with its URL as a minimum and I know I captured it today kleptomania that is great yeah

      Quote timestamp 01:26:36 from Obsidian Book Club checkin on 2022-12-04

      Context: talking about note taking methods; note that the autogenerated transcription actually misses the word as eclectoamania which is interesting in itself as a potential word.

      cliptomania<br /> definition: an excessive enthusiasm or desire to clip interesting material into one's notes. It often manifests itself in online settings where digital tools allow one to easily highlight and keep information including a URL or permalink to revisit that information in the future; a portmanteau of "clip" and "mania"

      Examples of tools that allow or encourage this collection of material include Evernote and Hypothes.is.

      a phenomenon which is related to the so-called "collector's fallacy"

  7. Nov 2022
    1. https://www.obsidianroundup.org/the-konik-method-for-making-notes/

      Eleanor Konik explores, in reasonable depth, how she makes notes and uses Obsidian to manage them. She doesn't talk much about the philosophy of her method in a prescriptive manner so much as she looks directly at her process.

      This isn't so much a "rules" set, but takes some pre-existing rules (unstated) and shows how she bends them to her particular needs for outputs primarily in non-academic settings.

    2. Not every highlight needs to become a "card" — and having things in my notes that are highlighted but don't need to be turned into further notes does not mean that I have failed by "over-highlighting." Useful notes are messy, and time is valuable. A sense of completionism is nice for some things but mostly just gets in the way when it comes to learning. I read about 10% of the articles that show up in my feed. I take highlight about 50% of those, and affirmatively take notes on about 10% of those. This doesn't mean I wasted my time reading, or that I failed at notetaking because I should have done a better job of taking comprehensive notes. It means I used judgment, and used my time wisely, and focused on things that were worthwhile from a return on investment perspective.

      While there are rules and processes for taking notes, it's small personal tidbits like this that are harder fought knowledge for the beginner who generally only learns these bits through work and experience.

    1. https://notebookofghosts.com/2018/02/25/a-brief-guide-to-keeping-a-commonplace-book/

      very loose and hands-off on dictating others' practices

      nothing new to me really...

    2. I also suggest letting your first commonplace be a trial run.

      Because your note taking practices will grow and evolve, don't get over-involved in too many specifics up front. Start somewhere and see where it goes.

    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. I never immediately read an article then make a notecard.

      By waiting some amount of time (days/weeks/a few months) between originally reading something and processing one's notes on it allows them to slowly distill into one's consciousness. It also allows one to operate on their diffuse thinking which may also help to link ideas to others in their memory.

    2. If you can’t talk yourself into using your energy to write or type something out, it’s probably not worth capturing.

      Being willing to capture an idea by spending the time writing it out in full is an incredibly strong indicator that it is actually worth capturing. Often those who use cut and paste or other digital means for their note capture will over-collect because the barrier is low and simple.

      More often than not, if one doesn't have some sort of barrier for capturing notes, they will become a burden and ultimately a scrap heap of generally useless ideas.

      In the end, experience will eventually dictate one's practice as, over time, one will develop an internal gut feeling of what is really worth collecting and what isn't. Don't let your not having this at the beginning deter you. Collect and process and over time, you'll balance out what is useful.

    3. One of the big lies notetakers tell themselves is, “I will remember why I liked this quote/story/fact/etc.”

      Take notes for your most imperfect, forgetful future self. You're assuredly not only not going to remember either the thing you are taking notes for in the first place, but you're highly unlikely to remember why you thought it was interesting or intriguing or that clever thing you initially thought of at the same time.

      Capture all of this quickly in the moment, particularly the interesting links to other things in your repository of notes. These ideas will be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for one to remember.

  8. Oct 2022
    1. Note, "Quotations: make them brief," n.d., unclassified, Paxson File, and note,"Your sentences must be your own." "A long quotation burdens your text. Theprinter commonly puts it in a different type and indicates that it is a thing apart.The quotation will be most effective when it is brief and pertinent and may beamalgamated in your own paragraph. The more completely you understand yoursources the more aptly & gracefully you will quote." "Do not take out of a secondarywork a paragraph or its substance and incorporate it in your work. . . . Use it if youmust, but restate it in your own terms, and make its form entirely yours. Give thefootnote of course but remember that you must be the author."

      Paxson doesn't directly indicate to rewrite for one's own digestion and understanding process, but hints at it strongly when he says that "Your sentences must be your own." By making and owning your sentences, you ought to have completely understood the ideas and made them a part of you prior to transmitting them back along to others.

      Under Paxon's framing and knowing that he also sometimes held onto is notes for a while before forming final opinions, one's notes, even when public (like my own are), are still just partial truths of thought caught in the moment. It takes further digestion and juxtaposition with additional thoughts which are later rewritten in longer form to make articles, books, etc.

      Note taking is a process of sense making seeking out the truth of a situation.

    2. A note system, he told his stu-dents, should permit rearrangement and study of notes in differentrelationships "until the fact itself is brought out against the back-ground in all its important details."
      1. Note headed "notes," n.d., Paxson File, unclassified.
    1. It is only too easy to misapply excerpted passages by taking them out of their original context. Ideally, I should have followed the technique, recommended as long ago as 1615 by the learned Jesuit Francesco Sacchini, of always making two sets of notes, one to be sliced up and filed, the other to be kept in its original form.

      Francesco Sacchini advised in 1615 that one should make two sets of notes: one to be cut up and filed, and the other kept in it's original form so as to keep the full context of the original author's context.

      This is broadly one of the values of note taking in Hypothes.is. One can take broader excerpts of an authors' works as well as maintain links for fuller context to reconsult, but still have the shorter excerpts as well as one's own notes.

    2. It is possible to take too many notes; the task of sorting, filing and assimilating them can take for ever, so that nothing gets written.
    3. When I did, though, I was reassured to see that, in a slipshod sort of way, I had arrived at something vaguely approximating to their prescriptions. En route I had made all the obvious beginner’s mistakes.

      Keith Thomas wasn't taught, nor did he read (until much too late), methods on note taking, but still managed to puzzle out most of the specifics for his note taking practice in his historical work, or at least everything but taking notes on note cards instead of on sheets of paper.

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mvxbl7Iwep4

      Lots of levels here to pull apart, but this should be particularly interesting to novices.

      Modes of note taking: * note taking for raw information * note taking (or writing) for understanding * note taking for relationships of and between knowledge * note taking for creating proficiency * note taking for productivity

      Sung takes the viewpoint that linear note taking isn't as effective as mind mapping and drawing out relationships; in part this is why handwriting is more effective means of note taking compared to typing, particularly as most note taking apps force one into a linear pathway that doesn't mirror the affordances available within handwriting.

      This video is definitely more about note taking than note making.

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mI3yiPA6npA

      Generally interesting and useful, but is broadly an extended advertisement for JetPens products.

      Transparent sticky notes allow one to take notes on them, but the text is still visible through the paper.

      One can use separate pages to write notes and then use washi tape to tape the notes to the page in a hinge-like fashion similar to selectively interleaving one's books.

    1. Film making is like note taking

      Incidentally, one should note that the video is made up of snippets over time and then edited together at some later date. Specifically, these snippets are much like regularly taken notes which can then be later used (and even re-used--some could easily appear in other videos) to put together some larger project, namely this compilation video of his process. Pointing out this parallel between note taking and movie/videomaking, makes the note taking process much more easily seen, specifically for students. Note taking is usually a quite and solo endeavor done alone, which makes it much harder to show and demonstrate. And when it is demonstrated or modeled, it's usually dreadfully boring and uninteresting to watch compared to seeing it put together and edited as a finished piece. Edits in a film are visually obvious while the edits in written text, even when done poorly, are invisible.

    1. Much like Umberto Eco (How to Write a Thesis), in the closing paragraphs of his essay, Goutor finally indicates that note cards can potentially be reused for multiple projects because each one "contains a piece of information which does not depend on a specific context for its value." While providing an example of how this might work, he goes even further by not only saying that "note-cards should never be discarded" but that they might be "recycled" by passing them on to "another interested party" while saying that their value and usefulness is dependent upon how well they may have adhered to some of the most basic note taking methods. (p35)

      Link to: https://hypothes.is/a/jqug2tNlEeyg2JfEczmepw

    2. Goutor only mentions two potential organizational patterns for creating output with one's card index: either by chronological order or topical order. (p34) This might be typical for a historian who is likely to be more interested in chronologies and who would have likely noted down dates within their notes.

    3. Goutor recommends cross-referencing or linking ideas between cards "at the bottom of the note-card, as soon as the note itself is completed." Links shouldn't be trusted to memory and should be noted as soon as possible. Further he recommends periodically sorting through cards and adding adding additional cross references as one ruminates. While he indicates that cross-referencing may seem "cumbersome at first sight, experience will show that it enhances the usefulness of the card file when the time comes to retrieve the information it contains." (p32-33)

      Beyond this he doesn't indicate any additional benefits of creativity or serendipity that have been seen in similar treatises.

    4. ...the usefulness of a note-taking system has an ultimate limit beyond which it becomes self-defeating. [...] After all, the ultimate purpose of the exercise is not to produce beautiful notes displaying the researcher's technical prowess, but rather usable notes to build the mosaic.<br /> —Jacques Goutor (p33)

    5. Goutor mentions that the innovation of photocopying, while potentially useful in some cases, isn't a replacement for actual reading and proper note taking. (p30) These same sorts of affordances and problems might be similar in the newer digital/online realm for people who rely on either whole scale copy/pasting or highlight capturing of texts, but who don't do the actual work of reading, processing, and creating good notes.

      Some of the benefits like portability, ease of access, ability to work with delicate primary materials, better facsimiles of things like maps or tables, etc. are still true.

    6. Unlike many note taking manuals, Goutor advises for consistency in method and use as a means of improving efficiency. He extends this specifically to choosing card sizes (though this only goes as far as particular note types: i.e. bibliographic notes versus content notes), card colors, layout of cards, and card classification. (p28)

      It's frequent in practice, however, that many people make small incremental changes in their workflows and systems over time. In some cases, people have been known to make dramatic changes, like changes in platforms, or start over from scratch (example: that of Luhmann who started ZKII after many years of building ZKI).

    7. Goutor recommended using subject headings as a marginal annotations on one's note cards to "indicate[s] the preliminary coding to be used in classifying" a note. (p21)

    8. Noting the dates of available materials within archives or sources can be useful on bibliography notes for either planning or revisiting sources. (p16,18)

      Similarly one ought to note missing dates, data, volumes, or resources at locations to prevent unfruitfully looking for data in these locations or as a note to potentially look for the missing material in other locations. (p16)

    9. When interviewing subjects, one should not only note the date, time, and location, but get (preferably written) permission to (record) or quote them. Notes about their memory, recall, or behavior may be useful, if nothing else as a reminder for crossing checking their information with other potential sources.

    10. Not mentioned in any other sources I've consulted (yet), Goutor recommends adding notes about the physical location of bibliographic sources to bibliographic notes. This should include details about not only the library and even call numbers, to minimize needing to look them up again in the future, but to have notes about arrangements and contacts which may needed to revisit harder to access resources. (p14) This can also be useful for sources like maps which may be needed for higher quality reproduction in the final text. (p15)

    11. Goutor recommended the use of bibliographic cards not only for their standard uses as sourcing, information, and footnotes, but for creating potential scopes of work and research for planning purposes, especially in planning out one's reading and note taking using various archives and resources to make more effective and productive use of one's time. (p13) This can be potentially very useful for visiting archives and sources for which one does not have easy or frequent access.

    12. Having an easily repeatable, mechanical process of note taking can free up the cognitive space one might otherwise spend on making sure that it works for them in the long run.

      Simple and sometimes dull activities like always starting by writing down sources of material in full, can save one immeasurable amounts of time in tracking down these pieces at a later date when they will be needed, especially in relation to the miniscule time and effort doing so takes upfront. (p12)

    13. Perhaps in large part because of his narrow local audience of amateur historians, Goutor's detailing of note taking method included several pages on early research preparation before taking any notes at all. Some of this was to ensure that extant potential materials for one's subject actually existed, in cases where a researcher might run into issues of availability. It also took into account the public audiences they might be serving and what those audiences would expect in terms of level of detail, resources, photos, maps, charts, etc. (p 9-11)

      This is in marked contrast with the broader audiences of writers like Eco and Ahrens who presumed either extended research needs for either masters or Ph.D. theses, or, in Ahrens' case, life long researchers at universities or journalists, though Eco did make a nod in this direction at the end of his work. With a broader area of applicability, one's collection of notes might also help to guide their particular interests into a variety of tangential or related areas. Goutor either didn't see this longer term value, or curtailed his efforts here because of the scope of his audience.

    14. The goals of a note taking system or method should be that the resulting notes are clear, concise, complete, searchable, and easily manipulated for creating end-products.

      If these criteria aren't met, then the work involved in making them may be wasted or require additional (unnecessary) time and effort to make them manageable and useful.


    15. For physical note taking on index cards or visualizations provided by computer generated graphs, one can physically view a mass of notes and have a general feeling if there is a large enough corpus to begin writing an essay, chapter, or book or if one needs to do additional research on a topic, or perhaps pick a different topic on which to focus.

      (parts suggested by p7, though broadly obvious)

    16. Goutor comments, like many before him, that it is common to take notes on notebook paper in longer form, but that this is inadvisable as it is much harder to impose a useful order or classification on such work. He does mention scissors as a means of cutting up such notes, but comments that "a mass of slips of paper of varying sizes [can be] difficult to arrange and potentially useless unless care has been taken to note the source of each separate entry."

      He also repeats the frequent admonitions that one should take notes only on one side and to use cards of a uniform size.


    1. Sincecopying is a chore and a bore, use of the cards, the smaller thebetter, forces one to extract the strictly relevant, to distill from thevery beginning, to pass the material through the grinder of one’s ownmind, so to speak.

      Barbara Tuchman recommended using the smallest sized index cards possible to force one only to "extract the strictly relevant" because copying by hand can be both "a chore and a bore".

      In the same address in 1963, she encourages "distill[ing] from the very beginning, to pass the material through the grinder of one's own mind, so to speak." This practice is similar to modern day pedagogues who encourage this practice, but with the benefit of psychology research to back up the practice.

      This advice is two-fold in terms of filtering out the useless material for an author, but the grinder metaphor indicates placing multiple types of material in to to a processor to see what new combinations of products come out the other end. This touches more subtly on the idea of combinatorial creativity encouraged by Raymond Llull, Matt Ridley, et al. or the serendipity described by Niklas Luhmann and others.

      When did the writing for understanding idea begin within the tradition? Was it through experience in part and then underlined with psychology research? Visit Ahrens' references on this for particular papers to read.

      Link to modality shift research.

    2. As to the mechanics of research, I take notes on four-by-six indexcards, reminding myself about once an hour of a rule I read long agoin a research manual, “Never write on the back of anything.”

      Barbara Tuchman took her notes on four-by-six inch index cards.

      She repeated the oft-advised mantra to only write on one side of a sheet.

      What manual did she read this in? She specifically puts quotes on "Never write on the back of anything." so perhaps it might be something that could be tracked down?

      Who was the earliest version of this quote? And was it always towards the idea of cutting up slips or pages and not wanting to lose material on the back? or did it also (later? when?) include ease-of-use and user interface features even when not cutting things up?

      At what point did double sided become a thing for personal printed materials? Certainly out of a duty to minimize materials, but it also needed the ability to duplex print pages or photocopy them that way.

  9. Sep 2022
    1. For instance, particular insights related to the sun or the moon may be filed under the(foreign) keyword “Astronomie” [Astronomy] or under the (German) keyword “Sternkunde”[Science of the Stars]. This can happen even more easily when using just one language, e.g.when notes related to the sociological term “Bund” [Association] are not just filed under“Bund” but also under “Gemeinschaft” [Community] or “Gesellschaft” [Society]. Againstthis one can protect by using dictionaries of synonyms and then create enough referencesheets (e.g. Astronomy: cf. Science of the Stars)

      related, but not drawn from as I've been thinking about the continuum of taxonomies and subject headings for a while...

      On the Spectrum of Topic Headings in note making

      Any reasonable note one may take will likely have a hierarchical chain of tags/subject headings/keywords going from the broad to the very specific. One might start out with something broad like "humanities" (as opposed to science), and proceed into "history", "anthropology", "biological anthropology", "evolution", and even more specific. At the bottom of the chain is the specific atomic idea on the card itself. Each of the subject headings helps to situate the idea and provide the context in which it sits, but how useful within a note taking system is having one or more of these tags on it? What about overlaps with other broader subjects (one will note that "evolution" might also sit under "science" / "biology" as well), but that note may have a different tone and perspective than the prior one.

      This becomes an interesting problem or issue as one explores ideas in a pre-designed note taking system. As a student just beginning to explore anthropology, one may tag hundreds of notes with anthropology to the point that the meaning of the tag is so diluted that a search of the index becomes useless as there's too much to sort through underneath it. But as one continues their studies in the topic further branches and sub headings will appear to better differentiate the ideas. This process will continue as the space further differentiates. Of course one may continue their research into areas that don't have a specific subject heading until they accumulate enough ideas within that space. (Take for example Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky's work which is now known under the heading of Behavioral Economics, a subject which broadly didn't exist before their work.) The note taker might also leverage this idea as they tag their own work as specifically as they might so as not to pollute their system as it grows without bound (or at least to the end of their lifetime).

      The design of one's note taking system should take these eventualities into account and more easily allow the user to start out broad, but slowly hone in on direct specificity.

      Some of this principle of atomicity of ideas and the growth from broad to specific can be seen in Luhmann's zettelkasten (especially ZK II) which starts out fairly broad and branches into the more specific. The index reflects this as well and each index heading ideally points to the most specific sub-card which begins the discussion of that particular topic.

      Perhaps it was this narrowing of specificity which encouraged Luhmann to start ZKII after years of building ZKII which had a broader variety of topics?

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

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

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

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

    3. need to be united in one single place

      often repeated advice, especially in the modern period.

    1. • Daily writing prevents writer’s block.• Daily writing demystifies the writing process.• Daily writing keeps your research always at the top of your mind.• Daily writing generates new ideas.• Daily writing stimulates creativity• Daily writing adds up incrementally.• Daily writing helps you figure out what you want to say.

      What specifically does she define "writing" to be? What exactly is she writing, and how much? What does her process look like?

      One might also consider the idea of active reading and writing notes. I may not "write" daily in the way she means, but my note writing, is cumulative and beneficial in the ways she describes in her list. I might further posit that the amount of work/effort it takes me to do my writing is far more fruitful and productive than her writing.

      When I say writing, I mean focused note taking (either excerpting, rephrasing, or original small ideas which can be stitched together later). I don't think this is her same definition.

      I'm curious how her process of writing generates new ideas and creativity specifically?

      One might analogize the idea of active reading with a pen in hand as a sort of Einsteinian space-time. Many view reading and writing as to separate and distinct practices. What if they're melded together the way Einstein reconceptualized the space time continuum? The writing advice provided by those who write about commonplace books, zettelkasten, and general note taking combines an active reading practice with a focused writing practice that moves one toward not only more output, but higher quality output without the deleterious effects seen in other methods.

    1. @BenjaminVanDyneReplying to @ChrisAldrichI wish I had a good answer! The book I use when I teach is Joseph Harris’s “rewriting” which is technically a writing book but teaches well as a book about how to read in a writerly way.

      Thanks for this! I like the framing and general concept of the book.

      It seems like its a good follow on to Dan Allosso's OER text How to Make Notes and Write https://minnstate.pressbooks.pub/write/ or Sönke Ahrens' How to Take Smart Notes https://amzn.to/3DwJVMz which includes some useful psychology and mental health perspective.

      Other similar examples are Umberto Eco's How to Write a Thesis (MIT, 2015) or Gerald Weinberg's The Fieldstone Method https://amzn.to/3DCf6GA These may be some of what we're all missing.

      I'm reminded of Mark Robertson's (@calhistorian) discussion of modeling his note taking practice and output in his classroom using Roam Research. https://hyp.is/QuB5NDa0Ee28hUP7ExvFuw/thatsthenorm.com/mark-robertson-history-socratic-dialogue/ Perhaps we need more of this?

      Early examples of this sort of note taking can also be seen in the religious studies space with Melanchthon's handbook on commonplaces or Jonathan Edwards' Miscellanies, though missing are the process from notes to writings. https://www.logos.com/grow/jonathan-edwards-organizational-genius/

      Other examples of these practices in the wild include @andy_matuschak's https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGcs4tyey18 and TheNonPoet's https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sdp0jo2Fe4 Though it may be better for students to see this in areas in which they're interested.

      Hypothes.is as a potential means of modeling and allowing students to directly "see" this sort of work as it progresses using public/semi-public annotations may be helpful. Then one can separately model re-arranging them and writing a paper. https://web.hypothes.is/

      Reply to: https://twitter.com/BenjaminVanDyne/status/1571171086171095042

    1. The notes from each document are entered upon aloose leaf furnished with the precisest possible in-dications of origin. The advantages of this artificeare obvious : the detachability of the slips enablesus to group them at will in a host of different com-binations ; if necessary, to change their places : it iseasy to bring texts of the same kind together, andto incorporate additions, as they are acquired, in theinterior of the groups to which they belong. As fordocuments which are interesting from several pointsof view, and which ought to appear in several groups,it is sufficient to enter them several times over ondifferent slips ; or they may be represented, as oftenas may be required, on reference-slips.

      Notice that at the bottom of the quote that they indicate that in addition to including multiple copies of a card in various places, a plan which may be inefficient, they indicate that one can add reference-slips in their place.

      This is closely similar to, but a small jump away from having explicit written links on the particular cards themselves, but at least mitigates the tedious copying work while actively creating links or cross references within one's note taking system.

    2. There is a still more barbarous method, whichneed not receive more than passing mention. Thisis simply to register documents in the memorywithout taking written notes. This method hasbeen used. Historians endowed with excellentmemories, and lazy to boot, have indulged thiswhim, with the result that their quotations andreferences are mostly inexact. The human memoryis a delicate piece of registering apparatus, but it isso little an instrument of precision that such pre-sumption is inexcusable.
    3. Thefirst impulse of most men who have to utilise anumber of texts is to make notes from them, oneafter another, in the order in which they studythem. Many of the early scholars (whose paperswe possess) worked on this system, and so do mostbeginners who are not warned beforehand ; the latterkeep, as the former kept, notebooks, which thgy fillcontinuously and progressively with notes on thetexts they are interested in. This method is utterlywrong.

      A warning that linear note taking is "utterly wrong."

  10. Aug 2022
    1. Should I always create a Bib-note? .t3_x2f4hn._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      reply to: https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/x2f4hn/should_i_always_create_a_bibnote/

      If you want to be lazy you could just create the one card with the quote and full source and save a full bibliographical note. Your future self will likely be pleasantly surprised if you do create a full bib note (filed separately) which allows for a greater level of future findability and potential serendipity, It may happen when you've run across that possibly obscure author multiple times and it may spur you to read other material by them or cross reference other related authors. It's these small, but seemingly "useless", practices in the present that generate creativity and serendipity over longer periods of time that really bring out the compounding value of ZK.

      More and more I find that the randomly referenced and obscure writer or historical figure I noted weeks/months/years ago pops up and becomes a key player in research I'm doing now, but that I otherwise would have long forgotten and thus not able to connect or inform my current pursuits. These golden moments are too frequently not written about or highlighted properly in much of the literature about these practices.

      Naturally, however, everyone's practices may differ. You want to save the source at the very least, even if it's just on that slip with the quote. If you're pressed for time now, save the step and do it later when you install the card.

      Often is the time that I don't think of anything useful contemporaneously but then a week or two later I'll think of something relevant and go back and write another note or two, or I'll want to recommend it to someone and then at least it's findable to recommend.

      Frequently I find that the rule "If it's worth reading, then it's worth writing down the author, title, publisher and date at a minimum" saves me from reading a lot of useless material. Of course if you're researching and writing about the broader idea of "listicles" then perhaps you have other priorities?

    1. Underlining won’t help you remember; marks are there to aid understanding in a later phase of reading.

      One shouldn't use highlighting in books/texts as a means of remembering things. They are the lowest form of fleeting note and should be used as an indicator or finding device for portions of text one wants to excerpt or reframe more fully for their note collection.

    1. Each type of index card should have a dif-ferent color, and should include in the top right corner abbre-viations that cross-reference one series of cards to another,and to the general plan. The result is something majestic.

      Finally a concrete statement about actively cross-linking ideas on note cards together!

    1. Depending on the scope of the notes that need to be taken, one uses either the A6format, or the next bigger one, which is A5 (21 x 14.8 cm), or the double sized A4 (29.6 x 21cm). After filling them with words, sheets of A5 size will be folded once, A4 size twice, sothat they return to our basic A6 size.

      This is the first time I've seen in the literature the suggestion to write notes on larger sheets and then fold them up. This is largely only recommended here because of the standardization of the paper sizes in such a way that folding an A4 makes an A5 and folding an A5 gives an A6 and so on...

    2. Newspaper clippings were usually placed in boxes or file storages dependingon their scientific or otherwise valuable content. This procedure is inadequate as it means thatone forgets about the clipping when it might have been useful, or, if one does not forget aboutthe clipping, it is nowhere to be found in the ever growing pile of collection folders (or canonly be found after hours of searching for it).

      the scrap heap problem

    3. carbon paper process

      I wasn't expecting advice for creating multiple copies of cards with carbon paper...

    4. The most suitable location is at the bottom right of thenote sheet for reasons that will become obvious later.
    5. For the sheets that are filled with content on one side however, the most most importantaspect is its actual “address”, which at the same time gives it its title by which it can alwaysbe found among its comrades: the keyword belongs to the upper row of the sheet

      following the commonplace tradition, the keyword gets pride of place...

      Watch here the word "address" and double check the original German word in translation. What was it originally? Seems a tad odd to hear "address" applied to a keyword which is likely to be just one of many. How to keep them all straight?

    6. it has proven useful only to write on one side of them.

      the traditional advice

    7. another advantage to the small size: A6 (14.8 x 10.5 cm) has exactly the samemeasurements as the official German Reich postcard does, which is also the maximum sizepermitted for private post cards. What follows from this is the fact that one can easily addpost cards with scientific or non-scientific content into the sequence of sheets without havingto copy them.
    1. Aworkershouldalways befullyconscious,as.hemakesnoteofsomething,whichheisdoing;shouldknowwithouttheslightestdoubtwhetherheisrepresenting himself,orsomeoneorotherselse

      I've seen references to the attribution problem in the 2020s, but I haven't seen references in older literature about the difference of representing one's own thoughts versus that of others in their notes.

    2. For in fact a note -system at its bestmust be very largely an individual thing.



    1. Devices for note-taking. In taking notes of reading,use slips of paper the size of the standard library card(8 x 6 in.). For more extended notes and for typewrittennotes, the standard half-sheet (6% x 8% in.) is usually themost satisfactory sire. For special purposes still larger sheetsare sometimes essential. In any extended investi ation theuse of different colored sli s or different coloref inks forcertain classes of notes w i g often prove a convenient andtime-savin device. It is especially desirable, thus, to dis-tinguish bifliogra hical data from subject matter. Each slipshould contain onyy a single note. Put a topical heading atthe top of each slip of subject notes and a reference to thevolume and page of the authority quoted.

      The transcription on this from .pdf via Hypothesis is dreadful! In particular for the card sizes. The actual text reads as:

      1. Devices for note-taking. In taking notes of reading, use slips of paper the size of the standard library card (3 x5 in.). For more extended notes and for typewritten notes, the standard half-sheet (5 1/2 x 8 1/2 in.) is usually the most satisfactory size. For special purposes still larger sheets are sometimes essential. In any extended investigation the use of different colored slips or different colored inks for certain classes of notes will often prove a convenient and time-saving device. It is especially desirable, thus, to distinguish bibliographical data from subject matter. Each slip should contain only a single note. Put a topical heading at the top of each slip of subject notes and a reference to the volume and page of the authority quoted.
    2. Dutcher, George Matthew. “Directions and Suggestions for the Writing of Essays or Theses in History.” Historical Outlook 22, no. 7 (November 1, 1931): 329–38. https://doi.org/10.1080/21552983.1931.10114595

    3. Useful suggestions in regard tonote-taking will be found in Samuel S . Seward, Note-taking,Boston, 1910; and, especially for more advanced students, inEarle W. DOW, Principles of a note-system for hirton’calstudies, New York, 1924

      He's read Langlois/Seignobos and Bernheim, but doesn't recommend/reference them for note taking, but points to Seward and Dow instead.

      What are the differences between the four methods?

      Note that this advice is in 1931, a few years after Beatrice Webb's My Apprentice which has a section on note taking that prefers the first two without mention of the latter two.

      It would appear that Seward is the brother of William Henry Seward. see: https://hypothes.is/a/MwspfCBOEe2YCpesAgwiGQ

    4. These Directions and suggestions were first cornpiled in1908, and the first edition was printed in 1911 for use in theauthor‘s own classes. The present edition is the result ofthorough revision and is planned for general use.

      This will be much more interesting given that he'd first written about this topic in 1908 and has accumulated more experience since then.

      Look for suggestions about the potential change in practice over the ensuing years.

      Is the original version extant in his papers?

    5. n composition d o not be a slave tothe notes and books: they only furnish the materials fromwhich the essay is t o be constructed.
    6. the slips by the topicalheadings. Guide cards are useful to gdicate the several head-ings and subheadings. Under each heading classif the slipsin writing, discarding any that may not prove useful andmaking cross references for notes which may be needed foruse in more than one lace. This classification will reveal,almost automatically, wiere there are deficiencies in the ma-terials collected which should be remedied. The completedand classified collection of notes then becomes the basis ofcomposition.

      missing some textual context here for full quote...

      Dutcher is recommending arranging notes and cards by topical headings in a commonplace sort of method. He does recommend a sub-arrangement of placing them in logical order for one's writing however. He goes even further and indicates one may "make cross references for notes which may be needed for use in more than one place." Which provides an early indication of linking or cross linking cards to multiple places within in one's card index. (Has this cross referencing (linking) idea appeared in the literature specifically before, or is this an early instantiation of this idea?)

    7. works inEnglish are convenient introductions to the prohems andmethods of historical research: Charles V. Langlois andCharles Seignobos, Introduction to the rludy of history, NewYork, 1898; John M. Vincent, Historical research, an outlineof theory and practice, New York, 1911; and, to a morelimited extent, Fred M. Fling, Writing of history, an intro-duction to historical method, New Haven, 1920. The studentwho is specializing in history should early familiarize him-self with these volumes and then acquaint himself with otherworks in the field, notably Ernst Bernheim, hehrbuch derhistorwehen Methode und der Beschichtsplrilosophie, 6th ed.,Leipzig, 1908

      I'm curious, what, if any, detail Fling (1920) and Vincent (1911) provide on note taking processes?

    1. Malachy Walsh23 hr agoI'm 75 years old. Unfortunately I rejected the notecard method when it was taught in high school, instead choosing cumbersome notebooks all the way through graduate school...until Richard McKeon at University of Chicago recommended using notecards not only as a record of my reading and other experiences but also as a source of creative and rhetorical invention. This was a mind opening, life changing perspective. His only rule: each card or slip should pose and answer a single question. He recommended organizing all journal entries by one of the following topics: 1. By the so called great ideas in the Syntopticon. 2. By work or business projects, activities and events(I spent my life as an advertising man, juggling many assignments over 30 years, from Frosted Flakes to The Marines to Ford). 3. By great books worthy of Adler's analytical readings. 4. By everyday living topics like family, friends, health, wealth, politics, business, car, house, occasions, etc. This way of working has served me well. I believe a proper book case is half full of books and half full of boxes of notes about those books. Notice that McKeon's advice is not limited to writing and reflecting about the books we read. McKeown also encourages reflection on all areas of experience that are important to us. I guess I have an Aristotelian view that our lives consist of thinking, doing, making, and interacting and that writing offers us a way of connecting our thinking with these other activities. So, the nature, scope, and shape our "note system" should be designed to help us engage successfully in our day to day activities and long term enterprises. How should follow What and Why, connect with Who, and fit with When and Where. Any success I have had in business or personal life I attribute to McKeon's advice.

      Richard McKeon's advice, as relayed by a student, on how to take notes using an index card based practice.

      Does he have a written handbook or advice on his particular method?

    1. I'm working on my zettelkasten—creating literature notes and permanent notes—for 90 min a day from Monday to Friday but I struggle with my permanent note output. Namely, I manage to complete no more than 3-4 permanent notes per week. By complete I mean notes that are atomic (limited to 1 idea), autonomous (make sense on their own), connected (link to at least 3 other notes), and brief (no more than 300 words).That said, I have two questions:How many permanent notes do you complete per week on average?What are your tips to increase your output?

      reply to: https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/wjigq6/how_do_you_increase_your_permanent_note_output

      In addition to all the other good advice from others, it might be worth taking a look at others' production and output from a historical perspective. Luhmann working at his project full time managed to average about 6 cards a day.1 Roland Barthes who had a similar practice for 37 years averaged about 1.3 cards a day.2 Tiago Forte has self-reported that he makes two notes a day, though obviously his isn't the same sort of practice nor has he done it consistently for as long.3 As you request, it would be useful to have some better data about the output of people with long term, consistent use.

      Given even these few, but reasonably solid, data points at just 90 minutes a day, one might think you're maybe too "productive"! I suspect that unless one is an academic working at something consistently nearly full time, most are more likely to be in the 1-3 notes a day average output at best. On a per hour basis Luhmann was close to 0.75 cards while you're at 0.53 cards. Knowing this, perhaps the best advice is to slow down a bit and focus on quality over quantity. This combined with continued consistency will probably serve your enterprise much better in the long run than in focusing on card per hour or card per day productivity.

      Internal idea generation/creation productivity will naturally compound over time as your collection grows and you continue to work with it. This may be a better sort of productivity to focus on in the long term compared with short term raw inputs.

      Another useful tidbit that some neglect is the level of quality and diversity of the reading (or other) inputs you're using. The better the journal articles and books you're reading, the more value and insight you're likely to find and generate more quickly over time.

    1. Don’t let it pile up. A lot of people mark down passages or fold pages of stuff they like. Then they put of doing anything with it. I’ll tell you, nothing will make your procrastinate like seeing a giant pile of books you have to go through and take notes on it. You can avoid this by not letting it pile up. Don’t go months or weeks without going through the ritual. You have to stay on top of it.
    2. 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. I know a lot of people use Evernote for this but I think physical is better. You want to be able to move the stuff around.

      Holiday prefers physical index cards over digital systems like Evernote because he wants to have the ability to "move the stuff around."

  11. Jul 2022
    1. https://danallosso.substack.com/p/thoughts-prior-to-publishing

      <iframe title="vimeo-player" src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/735211043?h=68a6bdd022" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

      I love the pointed focus @danallosso puts on output here. I think he's right that the "conversation between the writer, the text, and their notes" (in my framing combinatorial creativity) is where the real value is to be had.

      His explanation of the "evergreen note" is highly valuable here. One should really do as much work upfront to make it as evergreen as possible. Too many people (especially in the digital gardens space) put the emphasis on working on these evergreen notes over time to slowly improve and evolve them and that's probably the wrong framing to take. Write it once, write it well, then reuse it.

    1. For those curious about the idea of what students might do with the notes and annotations they're making in the margins of their texts using Hypothes.is, I would submit that Dan Allosso's OER handbook How to Make Notes and Write (Minnesota State Pressbooks, 2022) may be a very useful place to turn. https://minnstate.pressbooks.pub/write/

      It provides some concrete advice on the topic of once you've highlighted and annotated various texts for a course, how might you then turn your new understanding, ideas, and extant thinking work into a blogpost, essay, term paper or thesis.

      For a similar, but alternative take, the book How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking by Sönke Ahrens (Create Space, 2017) may also be helpful as well. This text however requires purchase via Amazon and doesn't carry the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike (by-nc-sa 4.0) license that Dr. Allosso's does.

      In addition to the online copy of the book, there's an annotatable .pdf copy available here: http://docdrop.org/pdf/How-to-Make-Notes-and-Write---Allosso-Dan-jzdq8.pdf/ though one can download .epub and .pdf copies directly from the Pressbooks site.

    1. This might be all you need, if your notes are directedtoward a small, immediate goa

      I like that there are a variety of potential contexts here which students might find themselves within (short term versus long term / big projects versus small). The broad advice can be useful to more people because they can pick and choose for their own needs.

      This is similar to Umberto Eco's advice which is geared toward a longer thesis, though he mentions that one might continue on their system across additional topics or even an entire career.

    2. An Index is something you must physically create asyou add cards in a physical note system.

      Watch closely to see how Allosso's description of an index comes to the advice of John Locke versus the practice of Niklas Luhmann.

      Alternately, is it closer to a commonplace indexing system or a shallowly linked, but still complex zettelkasten indexing system?

      In shared digital systems, I still suspect that densely indexed notes will have more communal value.

      Link to: - https://hypothes.is/a/nrk0vgoCEe2y3CedssHnVA

    3. You should read with a pen in your hand andenter...short hints of what you feel...may be useful; forthis be the best method of imprinting [them] in yourmemory. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

      original source?

    1. The centre of the sheet will be occupied by the text of the note, that is,the main statement or description of the fact recorded, whether it bea personal observation of your own, an extract from a document, aquotation from some literary source, an answer given in evidence, or astatistical calculation or table of figures.

      Beatrice Webb's list of the types of notes one might include on their sheets.



    1. der Beschaffenheit des Themas und des Materials wird es oft_ praktisch sein, von sachlicher Ordnung abzusehen und nur dieHuGBerlich chronologische anzuwenden. Gerade dann ist es vongréBtem Wert, die Eintragungen auf lose Blu&tter zu machen,damit man dieselben nach den verschiedenen Gesichtspunktender Zusammengehirigkeit zeitweilig umordnen und dann wiederin die Grundordoung zurticklegen kann. Um die einzelnenNotizen leicht auffinden zu kinnen, ist es ratsam, die Datenoder Schlagwirter oben dartiberzuschreiben; und die Bl&tteroder Zettel miissen von nicht zu diinnem Papier sein, damitman sie schnell durchblattern kann.Soweit es sich um Abschriften ganzer Akten oder Nach-richten handelt, bedarf es keiner besonderen Erérterungen.Doch solche véllige Abschriften wird man nur machen, wo essich um archivalische Quellen oder entlegenere Drucke handelt,die man nicht so leicht wieder erreichen kann. Im tibrigenwird man sich mit Ausztigen und Notizen begniigen, welcheentweder das aus den Quellen ausheben, was fiir das Themain Betracht kommt, oder nur im allgemeinen auf die Quellen-stellen hinweisen. Im ersteren Falle kommt es darauf an, dasBrauchbare und Wichtige scharf zu erkennen und prizis zunotieren; im letzteren Falle mu8 die Hindeutung wenigstensderart prizisiert sein, daf8 man beim sp&teren Durchsehen derNotizen gleich ersieht, was in der betreffenden Quellenstellezu erwarten ist, und da® die Identit&t der Notiz mit dem Inhaltder Quellenstelle nicht zweifelhaft sein kann; bei Urkundenerfordert letzteres besondere Sorgfalt, da nicht selten iiber den-selben (tegenstand zur selben Zeit mehrere dhnliche Dokumenteausgestellt worden sind: man tut daher gut, die Identitét jedesStiickes durch Aufnotierung des Anfanges und Schlusses (In-cipit und Explicit) sicherzustellen, wobei zu bemerken ist, dafhier als Anfang und Schlu8 nicht die formelhaften Teile, diesogenannten Protokolle, welche eben als feststehende Formelnnicht fiir die einzelne Urkunde unterscheidend sind, gelten,sondern daf man Anfang und Schlu8 des individuellen Textesnotiert, eine Art der Bezeichnung, die allgemein bei den pupst-lichen Bullen angewandt wird, indem man von der Bulle Unamsanctam oder Ausculta fili usw. spricht.

      Je nach der Beschaffenheit des Themas und des Materials wird es oft praktisch sein, von sachlicher Ordnung abzusehen und nur die äußerlich chronologische anzuwenden. Gerade dann ist es von größtem Wert, die Eintragungen auf lose Blätter zu machen, damit man dieselben nach den verschiedenen Gesichtspunkten der Zusammengehörigkeit zeitweilig umordnen und dann wieder in die Grundordoung zurücklegen kann. Um die einzelnen Notizen leicht auffinden zu können, ist es ratsam, die Daten oder Schlagwörter oben darüberzuschreiben; und die Blätter oder Zettel müssen von nicht zu dünnem Papier sein, damit man sie schnell durchblättern kann.

      Soweit es sich um Abschriften ganzer Akten oder Nachrichten handelt, bedarf es keiner besonderen Erörterungen. Doch solche völlige Abschriften wird man nur machen, wo es sich um archivalische Quellen oder entlegenere Drucke handelt, die man nicht so leicht wieder erreichen kann. Im übrigen wird man sich mit Auszügen und Notizen begnügen, welche entweder das aus den Quellen ausheben, was für das Thema in Betracht kommt, oder nur im allgemeinen auf die Quellenstellen hinweisen. Im ersteren Falle kommt es darauf an, das Brauchbare und Wichtige scharf zu erkennen und präzis zu notieren; im letzteren Falle muß die Hindeutung wenigstens derart präzisiert sein, daß man beim späteren Durchsehen der Notizen gleich ersieht, was in der betreffenden Quellenstelle zu erwarten ist, und daß die Identität der Notiz mit dem Inhalt der Quellenstelle nicht zweifelhaft sein kann; bei Urkunden erfordert letzteres besondere Sorgfalt, da nicht selten über den-selben (tegenstand zur selben Zeit mehrere ähnliche Dokumente ausgestellt worden sind: man tut daher gut, die Identität jedes Stückes durch Aufnotierung des Anfanges und Schlusses (Incipit und Explicit) sicherzustellen, wobei zu bemerken ist, daf hier als Anfang und Schluß nicht die formelhaften Teile, die sogenannten Protokolle, welche eben als feststehende Formeln nicht für die einzelne Urkunde unterscheidend sind, gelten, sondern daß man Anfang und Schluß des individuellen Textes notiert, eine Art der Bezeichnung, die allgemein bei den päpstlichen Bullen angewandt wird, indem man von der Bulle Unam sanctam oder Ausculta fili usw. spricht.

      Google translation:

      Depending on the nature of the subject and the material, it will often be practical to dispense with factual order and use only the outwardly chronological one. It is precisely then that it is of the greatest value to make the entries on loose sheets of paper, so that they can be temporarily rearranged according to the various aspects of belonging together and then put back into the basic order. In order to be able to easily find the individual notes, it is advisable to write the dates or keywords above them; and the sheets or slips of paper must be of paper that is not too thin so that they can be leafed through quickly.

      As far as copies of entire files or messages are concerned, no special discussion is required. But such complete copies will only be made from archival sources or more remote prints that cannot easily be accessed again. For the rest, one will be content with excerpts and notes, which either extract from the sources what comes into consideration for the subject, or only refer to the sources in general. In the first case it is important to clearly recognize what is useful and important and to write it down precisely; in the latter case, the indication must at least be specified in such a way that, when looking through the notes later, one can immediately see what is to be expected in the relevant source and that the identity of the note with the content of the source cannot be in doubt; for certificates the latter requires special care, as it is not uncommon for same (te, several similar documents existed at the same time have been issued: one does therefore well, the identity of each piece by notating the beginning and end (Incipit and explicit), noting that here as beginning and end not the formulaic parts that so-called protocols, which are simply fixed formulas are not distinctive for the individual document, apply, but that one sees the beginning and end of the individual text noted, a form of designation commonly applied to the papal bulls, speaking of the bull Unam sanctam or Ausculta fili, etc.

      Continuing on in his advice on note taking, Bernheim tells us that notes on loose sheets of paper (presumably in contrast with the bound pages of a commonplace book or other types of notebooks), "can be temporarily rearranged according to the various aspects of belonging together and then put back into the basic order". He recommends giving them dates (presumably to be able to put them back into their temporal order), as well as keywords. He also suggest that "the sheets or slips of paper must be of paper that is not too thin so that they can be leafed through quickly." (translated from German)

      Note that he doesn't specify the exact size of the paper (at least not in this general section) other than to specify either "die Blätter oder Zettel" (sheets or slips) . Other practices may be more indicative of the paper size he may have had in mind. Are his own papers extant? Might those have an indication of his own personal practice as it may have differed from his published advice?

    1. Realizing that my prior separate advice wasn't as actionable or specific, I thought I'd take another crack at your question.

      Some seem to miss the older techniques and names for this sort of practice and get too wound up in words like categories, tags, #hashtags, [[wikilinks]], or other related taxonomies and ontologies. Some become confounded about how to implement these into digital systems. Simplify things and index your ideas/notes the way one would have indexed books in a library card catalog, generally using subject, author and title.

      Since you're using an approach more grounded in the commonplace book tradition rather than a zettelkasten one, put an easy identifier on your note (this can be a unique title or number) and then cross reference it with any related subject headings or topical category words you find useful.

      Here's a concrete example, hopefully in reasonable detail that one can easily follow. Let's say you have a quote you want to save:

      No piece of information is superior to any other. Power lies in having them all on file and then finding the connections. There are always connections; you have only to want to find them.—Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum

      In a paper system you might give this card the identification number #237. (This is analogous to the Dewey Decimal number that might be put on a book to find it on the shelves.) You want to be able to find this quote in the future using the topical words "power", "information", "connections", and "quotes" for example. (Which topical headings you choose and why can be up to you, the goal is to make it easier to dig up for potential reuse in future contexts). So create a separate paper index with alphabetical headings (A-Z) and then write cards for your topical headings. Your card with "power" at the top will have the number #237 on it to indicate that that card is related to the word power. You'll ultimately have other cards that relate and can easily find everything related to "power" within your system by using this subject index.

      You might also want to file that quote under two other "topics" which will make it easy to find: primarily the author of the quote "Umberto Eco" and the title of the source Foucault's Pendulum. You can add these to your index the same way you did "power", "information", etc., but it may be easier or more logical to keep a bibliographic index separately for footnoting your material, so you might want a separate bibliographic index for authors and sources. If you do this, then create a card with Umberto Eco at the top and then put the number #237 on it. Later you'll add other numbers for other related ideas to Eco. You can then keep your card "Eco, Umberto" alphabetized with all the other authors you cite. You'll effect a similar process with the title.

      With this done, you now have a system in which you don't have to categorize a single idea in a single place. Regardless of what project or thing you're working on, you can find lots of related notes. If you're juggling multiple projects you can have an index file or document outline for these as well. So your book project on the History of Information could have a rough outline of the book on which you've got the number #237 in the chapter or place where you might use the quote.

      Hopefully this will be even more flexible than Holiday's system because that was broadly project based. In practice, if you're keeping notes over a lifetime, you're unlikely to be interested in dramatically different areas the way Ryan Holiday or Robert Greene were for disparate book projects, but will find more overlapping areas. Having a more flexible system that will allow you to reuse your notes for multiple settings or projects will be highly valuable.

      For those who are using digital systems, ask yourself: "what functions and features allow you to do these analog patterns most easily?" If you're using something like Obsidian which has #tagging functionality that automatically creates an index of all your tags, then leverage that and remove some of the manual process. The goal is to make sure the digital system is creating the structure to allow you to easily find and use your notes when you need them. If your note taking system doesn't have custom functionalities for any of these things, then you'll need to do more portions of them manually.

  12. Jun 2022
    1. There is no single right way to build a Second Brain. Your systemcan look like chaos to others, but if it brings you progress anddelight, then it’s the right one.

      All this description and prescription, then say this?!

      I'll agree that each person's system should be their own and work for them, but it would have been more helpful to have this upfront and then to have looked at a broad array of practices and models for imitation to let people pick and choose from a variety of practices instead of presenting just one dish on the menu: P.A.R.A. with a side of C.O.D.E.

    2. There’s no need to capture every idea; the best ones willalways come back around eventually.

      While one can certainly capture a lot of cruft that isn't actionable or easily reusable, it's a fable that the best ideas will come back around. All too often the really brilliant ideas can be quickly lost to the wind if not captured immediately.

    3. send off your draft or beta orproposal for feedback. Share this Intermediate Packet with a friend,family member, colleague, or collaborator; tell them that it’s still awork-in-process and ask them to send you their thoughts on it. Thenext time you sit down to work on it again, you’ll have their input andsuggestions to add to the mix of material you’re working with.

      A major benefit of working in public is that it invites immediate feedback (hopefully positive, constructive criticism) from anyone who might be reading it including pre-built audiences, whether this is through social media or in a classroom setting utilizing discussion or social annotation methods.

      This feedback along the way may help to further find flaws in arguments, additional examples of patterns, or links to ideas one may not have considered by themselves.

      Sadly, depending on your reader's context and understanding of your work, there are the attendant dangers of context collapse which may provide or elicit the wrong sorts of feedback, not to mention general abuse.

    4. By takingthat small extra step of putting a note into a folder (or tagging it*) fora specific proj