- Oct 2022
Local file Local file
Consequently, instead of a curiousbut otherwise useless exercise and a delusional preoccupation with accumulating indi-vidual facts, closer examination shows that Deutsch’s index represented a certainforward-facing openness to new ways of managing information, and instead of theephemera of an obscure and mostly forgotten scholar, one finds a project with surpris-ingly far-reaching repercussions.
Lustig is calling an academic zettelkasten a "useless exercise" and a "delusional preoccupation"!! He also indicates that it "represented a certain forward-facing openness to new ways of managing information", something which is patently wrong within the history of information.
A monument to the temple of truth taken to an illogical extreme, it might seemplainly outmoded.
It would seem that Lustig is calling the practice of keeping a zettelkasten as an "illogical extreme" and "plainly outmoded".
(His reference to "illogical extreme" may be a referent to the truth portion, but "outmoded" can only refer to the zettelkasten itself as applying that to truth either then or now just doesn't track.)
The index frames a figure who may at first glanceseem a curious or even comedic caricature of a certain positivist historical tradition, butone who also imparted to his students a sense of the magnitude of Jewish history, andwho straddled a mechanical pursuit of individual ‘facts’ with a certain attention to novelmethods and visions of comprehensively encyclopedic information.
From where did Deutsch learn his zettelkasten method? And when? Bernheim's influential Lehrbuch der historischen Methode (1889) was published long after Deutsch entered seminary in October 1876 and 9 years before he received his Ph.D. in history in1881.
One must potentially posit that the zettelkasten method was being passed along in (at least history circles) long before Bernheim's publication.
I'm hoping that Lustig isn't referring to zettelkasten when he says "novel methods", as they weren't novel, even at that time. Deutsch certainly wasn't the first to have comprehensive encyclopedic visions, as Zettelkasten practitioner Konrad Gessner preceded him by several centuries.
I'm starting to severely question Lustig's familiarity with these particular traditions....
Without fail, obituaries commented on theindex and declared the colossal Zettelkasten either a great gift to scholarship or alter-nately ‘mere chips from his workshop’, which marked an exceptional effort but ultimateinability to look beyond the details. 1
Gotthard Deutsch, Divine and Writer, Dies of Pneumonia’, 21 Oct. 1921, American Jewish Archives (AJA), Cincinnati, OH, MS-123 Oversize Box 313; Chicago Rabbinical Association, ‘Gotthard Deutsch Memorial Resolutions’, 31 Oct. 1921, AJA MS-123 1/17.
An obituary calling a Zettelkasten "mere chips from his workshop" seems more indicative of the lack of knowledge of what one is and how it is used than a historian of information or academic with knowledge of the tradition calling it such.
This quote from 1921 is also broadly indicative of the potential fact that the idea of zettelkasten for academic use was not widely known by the general public, if in fact, it ever had been.
- Aug 2022
Definition and inclusion criteria
Further to [[User:Biogeographist|Biogeographist]]'s comments about what defines a zettelkasten, someone has also removed the Eminem example (https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Zettelkasten&type=revision&diff=1105779799&oldid=1105779647) which by the basest of definitions is a zettelkasten being slips of paper literally stored in a box. The continually well-documented path of the intellectual history of the tradition stemming out of the earlier Commonplace book tradition moved from notebooks to slips of paper indicates that many early examples are just this sort of collection. The optional addition of subject headings/topics/tags aided as a finding mechanism for some and was more common historically. Too much of the present definition on the page is dominated by the recently evolved definition of a zettelkasten as specifically practiced by Luhmann, who is the only well known example of a practitioner who heavily interlinked his cards as well as indexed them (though it should be noted that they were only scantly indexed as entry points into the threads of linked cards which followed). The broader historical perspective of the practice is being overly limited by the definition imprinted by a single example, the recent re-discovery of whom, has re-popularized a set of practices dating back to at least the sixteenth century.
It seems obvious that through the examples collected and the scholarship of Blair, Cevollini, Krajewski, and others that collections of notes on slips generally kept in some sort of container, usually a box or filing cabinet of some sort is the minimal definition of the practice. This practice is often supplemented by additional finding and linking methods. Relying on the presence of ''metadata'' is both a limiting (and too modern) perspective and not supported by the ever-growing numbers of historical examples within the space.
Beyond this there's also a modern over-reliance (especially in English speaking countries beginning around 2011 and after) on the use and popularity of the German word Zettelkasten which is not generally seen in the historically English and French speaking regions where "card index" and "fichier boîte" have been used for the same practices. This important fact was removed from the top level definition with revision https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Zettelkasten&type=revision&diff=1105779647&oldid=1105766061 and should also be reverted to better reflect the broader idea and history.
In short, the definition, construction, and evolution of this page/article overall has been terribly harmed by an early definition based only on Niklas Luhmann's practice as broadly defined within the horribly unsourced and underinformed blogosphere from approximately 2013 onward. ~~~~
- Feb 2022
qbatten annotates on Jan 11, 2022:
Why note-taking is bad. Why you shouldn't take notes. Taking notes shouldn't be the end in itself!
I'll agree that "taking notes shouldn't be the end in itself", but they've drawn the completely wrong conclusion about note taking being bad or that this flimsy argument indicates that one shouldn't take notes.
Not everyone who wields a hammer is going to be a master craftsman and it's even less likely that someone who tinkers with one for a few months or even a few years will get there without some significant help. There's no evidence here of anything but desire for methods to work. Where was the deep practice, research into these systems described?
From the start, the featured image in the original article of a crazy person's conception of a massive collection of piles of paper to represent the process is highly illustrative of so many misconceptions.
A zettelkasten is an accumulation of notes in which each successive note is given a number, rather than being placed in a category or topic.
An example here of a misconception. The zettle may be given a number, but it is also given a topic tied into an index. Because it isn't put into a "folder" or "hierarchy" isn't the same thing as not giving it a topic.