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  1. Last 7 days
    1. The History of Zettelkasten The Zettelkasten method is a note-taking system developed by German sociologist and philosopher Niklas Luhmann. It involves creating a network of interconnected notes on index cards or in a digital database, allowing for flexible organization and easy access to information. The method has been widely used in academia and can help individuals better organize their thoughts and ideas.


      If generated, it almost perfect reflects the public consensus, but does a miserable job of reflecting deeper realities.

    1. Aby Warburg and his son Max Adolph in Warburg's study in Hamburg, 1917. © Warburg Institute, London.


      Appears to be a row of slip boxes behind Aby Warburg in this photo of his study in Hamburg from 1917.

    1. Dr James Ravenscroft @jamesravey@fosstodon.orgFollowing on from my first week with hypothes.is I decided to integrate my annotations into #Joplin so that I have tighter integration of my literature + permanent notes. I've built a VERY alpha Joplin plugin that auto-imports hypothes.is annotations + tags to joplin by following your user atom feed https://brainsteam.co.uk/2022/12/04/joplin-hypothesis/ #PKM #ToolsForThought #hypothesis
    1. This generally fits my criteria for submission as an example to https://boffosocko.com/2022/07/12/call-for-model-examples-of-zettelkasten-output-processes/

    2. This is the absolute hardest part of the writing process, in my mind. The most exciting, too, because you’re never quite sure where it’s going to end up.

      Anecdotal evidence that categorizing and arranging index cards/ideas for a writing project for subsequent writing is one of the most difficult portions of the process.

      Niklas Luhmann subverted portions of this by pre-linking his ideas together either in threads or an outline form as he went.

    1. “I first make a plan of what I am going to write,and then take from the note cabinet what I can use.”60


      60 Hans-Georg Moeller, The Radical Luhmann (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011), 11.

      I rather like the phrase "note cabinet" which isn't used often enough in the zettelkasten space. Something more interesting than filing cabinet which feels like where things are stored to never be seen again versus a note cabinet which is temporary and directed location storage specifically meant for things to actively be reused.

    2. the Antinet can serve both states. It can assist someone who’s in thegrowth state (without a clear end goal), and it can also assist someone who’sin the contribution state (with a clearly defined book or project).

      This could be clearer and "growth state" and "contribution state" feel like jargon which muddles:

      two of the broad benefits/affordances of having a zettelkasten: - learning and scaffolding knowledge (writing for understanding) - collecting and arranging material for general output

      see also: https://boffosocko.com/2022/04/01/the-zettelkasten-method-of-note-taking-mirrors-most-of-the-levels-of-blooms-taxonomy/

    3. you’re doing things the old way,the hard way, the true way.

      note the pathos along with a bit of religious zeal here about the "true way".

    4. “I started my Zettelkasten,because I realized that I had to plan for a life and not for a book.”5

      from Niklas Luhmann, Niklas Luhmann Short Cuts (English Translation), 2002, 22.

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

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

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

  2. Nov 2022
    1. https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/z3f8kb/oblique_strategies_a_custom_zettelkasten_for/

      Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt published a card index of un-numbered and purposefully unordered ideas in 1975 as a tool for increasing creativity. They called it "Oblique Strategies". Each card contained an aphorism for helping one to reframe their approach to problems or questions they faced.

      Black box with cards containing aphorisms to help increase creativity. Photo by V&A Images from the David Bowie Archive.

      Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oblique_Strategies<br /> Canonical site with complete list of versions: http://www.rtqe.net/ObliqueStrategies/OSintro.html

      ZK practitioners might profitably have a subsection in their box with these strategies to help themselves randomly increase their own creativity while working either inside or outside of their boxes. Potentially useful for writing, music, art, etc.

    1. danielsantos @chrisaldrich thanks for sharing… personally, I tend to associate ZK with Luhman. But I’ll read your shared article later to broaden my perspective :)

      @danielsantos Almost everyone in the space exclusively associates ZK with Luhmann, in part because of the use of the foreign (unfamiliar) German word and the lost cultural memory of the use of card indexes as note taking tools or as commonplace books in index card form. Hopefully we can change this misperception which also opens up these practices to a lot more people with a lot less confusion.

    1. https://zettelkasten.social/about

      Someone has registered the domain and it is hosted by masto.host, but not yet active as of 2022-11-13

    1. Something @chrisaldrich mentioned on Reddit as examples of someone selling niche Zettelkasten decks. Seem more like protocol-kasten decks to aid problem-solving in specific contexts.

    1. Zettelkasten as a product?! .t3_xsoaya._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      @chrisaldrich's post on "pip decks". They seem less like Zettelkasten decks and more like protocol-kastens (think of a better name for this)

      Seem poor for knowledge generation (Zettelkasten) and recollection (Anki), but may be useful for specific contexts of problem-solving (even in ill-defined problem spaces).

    1. Origin of Robert Greene's (May 14, 1959 - ) note taking system using index cards:<br /> Greene didn't recall a specific origin of his practices, but did mention that his mom found some index cards at his house from a junior high school class. (Presuming a 12 year old 7th grader, this would be roughly from 1971.) Ultimately when he wrote 48 Laws of Power, he was worried about being overwhelmed with his notes and ideas in notebooks. He naturally navigated to note cards as a solution.

      Uses about 50 cards per chapter.

      His method starts by annotating his books as he reads them. A few weeks later, he revisits these books and notes to transfer his ideas to index cards. He places a theme on the top of each card along with a page number of the original reference.

      He has kept much the same system as he started with though it has changed a bit over time.

      You're either a prisoner of your material or a master of your material.

      This might not be the best system ever created, but it works for me.

      When looking through a corpus of cards for a project, Robert Greene is able to make note of the need to potentially reuse a card within a particular work if necessary. The fact that index cards are inherently mobile within his projects make them easy to move and reuse.

      I haven't heard in either Robert Greene or Ryan Holiday's practices evidence that they reuse notes or note cards from one specific project to the next. Based on all the evidence I've seen, they maintain individual collections for each book project for which they're developing.

      [...] like a chameleon [the index card system is] constantly changing colors or [like] something that's able to change its shape at will. This whole system can change its shape as I direct it.

    2. Robert Green appears to use a Globe-Weis/Pendaflex Fiberboard Index Card Storage Box, 4 x 6 Inches, Black Agate (94 BLA) to store his index card-based notes.

      How I Write My Books: Robert Greene Reveals His Research Methods When Writing His Latest Work, 2020. timestamp 0:00:30.

      syndication link

    3. Robert Greene: (pruriently) "You want to see my index cards?"<br /> Brian Rose: (curiously) Yeah. Can we?? ... This is epic! timestamp

    1. Inevitably, I read and highlight more articles than I have time to fully process in Obsidian. There are currently 483 files in the Readwise/Articles folder and 527 files marked as needing to be processed. I have, depending on how you count, between 3 and 5 jobs right now. I am not going to neatly format all of those files. I am going to focus on the important ones, when I have time.

      I suspect that this example of Eleanor Konik's is incredibly common among note takers. They may have vast repositories of collected material which they can reference or use, but typically don't.

      In digital contexts it's probably much more common that one will have a larger commonplace book-style collection of notes (either in folders or with tags), and a smaller subsection of more highly processed notes (a la Luhmann's practice perhaps) which are more tightly worked and interlinked.

      To a great extent this mirrors much of my own practice as well.

    1. And this is the art-the skill or craftthat we are talking about here.

      We don't talk about the art of reading or the art of note making often enough as a goal to which students might aspire. It's too often framed as a set of rules and an mechanical process rather than a road to producing interesting, inspiring, or insightful content that can change humanity.

    2. You cannot followrules you do not know. Nor can you acquire an artistic habitany craft or skill-without following rules. The art as something that can be taught consists of rules to be followed inoperation. The art as something learned and possessed consists of the habit that results from operating according to therules.

      This is why one has some broad general rules for keeping and maintaining a zettelkasten. It helps to have some rules to practice and make a habit.

      Unmentioned here is that true artists known all the rules and can then more profitably break those rules for expanding and improving upon their own practice. This is dramatically different from what is seen by some of those who want to have a commonplace or zettelkasten practice, but begin without any clear rules. They often begin breaking the rules to their detriment without having the benefit of long practice to see and know the affordances of such systems before going out of their way to break those rules.

      By breaking the rules before they've even practiced them, many get confused or lost and quit their practice before they see any of the benefits or affordances of them.

      Of course one should have some clear cut end reasons which answer the "why" question for having such practices, or else they'll also lose the motivation to stick with the practice, particularly when they don't see any light at the end of the tunnel. Pure hope may not be enough for most.

    1. https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/848/zettelizers

      A thread about what to call those who have a zettelkasten or those who practice the method.

    2. Zettelphile

      This also has a nod to the idea of "filing". 😁

    3. Being an English only speaker I love the mystery invoked by the German term "Zettelkasten".

      Example of someone who sees "mystery" in the idea of Zettelkasten, which becomes part of the draw into using it.

    1. http://www.shopbrodart.com/library-supplies/archival-supplies/archival-storage-boxes/Archival-Specialty-Storage-Boxes/_/Post-Card-Boxes/

      N.B. presuming the 4 1/8" H dimension is even the outer dimension, this means that one can't easily keep tab cut dividers which often go from 4 3/8" to 4 1/2" tall in these boxes with the lids on properly.

      Instead, one may prefer their slightly larger microfiche boxes which go up to 4 3/4" which should also presumably fit their microfiche divider guides for sectioning one's work.

      Another subtle difference in these two boxes is that the smaller is 60-pt paper versus 40-pt for the larger microfiche box, which means that while sturdy, isn't quite as sturdy.

    1. Carlin’s bags of categorized ideas, from the archives of George Carlin

      George Carlin kept his slips (miscellaneous scraps of collected paper with notes) sorted by topic name in Ziploc bags (literally that specific brand given the photo's blue/purple signature on the bag locks).

      This is similar to others, including historian Keith Thomas, who kept his in labeled envelopes.

    1. Oppenheimer, Billy. “The Notecard System: Capture, Organize, and Use Everything You Read, Watch, and Listen To.” Billy Oppenheimer (blog), August 26, 2022. https://billyoppenheimer.com/notecard-system/.

    2. Tiago’s methodology is app-agnostic. He’s a systems and principles kind of thinker, so even though I use physical notecards, his work has influenced the evolution of my processes.

      Billy Oppenheimer indicates that Tiago Forte's systems and methods have influenced the evolution of his own note taking process.

    3. Robert Greene’s notecards

      Looks kind of like Billy Oppenheimer's box choice is heavily influenced by Robert Greene's.

    4. I review the cards way more than I originally thought was necessary. Almost daily, I engage with the boxes in one way or another.

      Oppenheimer interacts with his zettelkasten almost daily. He reviews them more often than he originally thought he would.

    5. Throughout this piece Oppenheimer provides examples of notes he wrote which eventually made it into his written output in their entirety.

      This has generally been uncommon in the literature, but is a great form of pedagogy. It's subtle, but it makes his examples and advice much stronger than others who write these sorts of essays.

    1. Can we all agree that Zettelkasten note-taking is probably WAY more complexity than we need as creators?<br><br>Here's how to take the best parts & leave the rest to the academics pic.twitter.com/LFnAeBkbpG

      — ⚡️ Ev Chapman 🚢 | Creative Entrepreneur (@evielync) February 21, 2022
      <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
    1. raphy. Surely the fault of that savant was not neglecbut over-confidence in the virtue of the fiche, and the true morthat there is no necessary salvation in the fiche and the card-indTh

      Surely the fault of that savant was not neglect, but over-confidence in the virtue of the fiche [index card], and the true moral is that there is no necessary salvation in the fiche and the card-index [aka zettelkasten].

      Here the author is referencing part of the preface of Anatole France's book Penguin Island (1908) where a scholar drowns in a whirlpool of index cards.

      see: https://hypothes.is/a/rYHu0FQZEe2mm4_z4pvWLw

    2. es the sad fate of M. Fulgence Tapir to his neglecting the mechaniside of historiography.

      neglecting the mechanical side of historiography

      the mechanical side of historiography is a round about way of saying note taking using a card index or zettelkasten.

    3. This is a doctrine so practically important that we could have wismore than two pages of the book had been devoted to note-takiand other aspects of the " Plan and Arrangement of CollectionsContrariw

      In the 1923 short notices section of the journal History, one of the editors remarked in a short review of "The Mechanical Processes of the Historian" that they wished that Charles Johnson had spent more than two pages of the book on note taking and "other aspects of the 'Plan and Arrangement of Collections'" as the zettelkasten "is a doctrine so practically important" to historians.

    4. T., T. F., A. F. P., E. R. A., H. E. E., R. C., E. L. W., F. J. C. H., and E. J. C. “Short Notices.” History 8, no. 31 (1923): 231–37.

    1. Zettelkasten for technical sciences .t3_yibchw._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      reply to: https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/yibchw/zettelkasten_for_technical_sciences/

      Presumably you've been the member of or seen a journal club/discussion group for scientific articles, and if not, you could start your own journal club (with yourself) using a zettelkasten by excerpting ideas from what you read, annotating them, writing down open questions, thoughts about what researchers get right/wrong, what could be done better, etc. A zettelkasten practice can be highly fruitful in the sciences. Carl Linnaeus, Newton, and Leibnitz (among many others) had similar looking practices.

    1. https://zettelkasten.de/posts/luhmanns-zettel-translated/

      Sascha's German to English translation of Luhmann's zettelkasten section ZK II / 9/8.


    2. Topic: Communication with the Zettelkasten: How to get an adequate partner, junior partner? – important after working with staff becomes more and more difficult and expensive. Zettel’s reality

      The best and most challenging communication partner you may experience is a version of your past self. A searchable set of notes is the closest approximation of this one is likely to find.

    3. Zettelkasten with the complicated digestive system of a ruminant. All arbitrary ideas, all coincidences of readings, can be brought in. The internal connectivity then decides.

      another in a long line of using analogizing thinking to food digestion.... I saw another just earlier today.

    4. On the general organisation of memory see Ashby 1967, p103. It is therefore important that one is not dependent on a myriad of point-by-point accesses, but to be able to rely on relations between notes, i.e. on references that make more available at once than one has in mind when following a search impulse or fixating on a thought

      Fascinating to see Ashby pop up in Luhmann's section on zettelkasten in part because Ashby had a similar note taking practice, though part notebook/part index card based, and was highly interested in systems theory.

  3. Oct 2022
    1. Pomeroy, Earl. “Frederic L. Paxson and His Approach to History.” The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 39, no. 4 (1953): 673–92. https://doi.org/10.2307/1895394

      read on 2022-10-30 - 10-31

    2. After his retirement in 1947 the Carnegie Corporation of New York persuadedhim to write a history of American state universities, which came to interest him in-tensely. At the end of a year he had written half of the book and sorted his lastnotes. He notified the university administration that he was unable to complete thejob before leaving his study for the hospital where he died, October 24, 1948. Thevolume is being completed by one of his students, Professor Walton E. Bean of theUniversity of California.

      Even following his retirement in 1947, Paxson continued to take notes specifically on education for a project which he never got to finish before he died in hospital on October 24, 1948.

    3. t may be that in using his system hedeveloped his mind and his knowledge of history to the point wherehe expected his readers to draw more inferences from the facts heselected than most modern readers are accustomed to doing, in thisday of the predigested book.

      It's possible that the process of note taking and excerpting may impose levels of analysis and synthesis on their users such that when writing and synthesizing their works that they more subtly expect their readers to do the same thing when their audiences may require more handholding and explanation.

      Here, both the authors' experiences and that of the cultures in which they're writing will determine the relationship.

      There's lots of analogies between thinking and digesting (rumination, consumption, etc), in reading and understanding contexts.

    4. Paxson wrote several unusually sharp reviews of books by Mc-Master, Rhodes, and Ellis P. Oberholtzer, historians whose methodshave been compared with his own

      Examples of other historians who likely had a zettelkasten method of work.

      Rhodes' method is tangentially mentioned by Earle Wilbur Dow as being "notebooks of the old type". https://hypothes.is/a/PuFGWCRMEe2bnavsYc44cg

    5. the writer of "scissors and paste history" ;

      One cannot excerpt their way into knowledge, simply cutting and pasting one's way through life is useless. Your notes may temporarily serve you, but unless you apply judgement and reason to them to create something new, they will remain a scrapheap for future generations who will gain no wisdom or use from your efforts.

      relate to: notes about notes being only useful to their creator

    6. he kepthis note pads always in his pocket

      The small size and portability of index cards make them easy to have at hand at a moment's notice.

    7. He took it toWashington when he went into war service in 1917-1918;

      Frederic Paxson took his note file from Wisconsin to Washington D.C. when he went into war service from 1917-1918, which Earl Pomeroy notes as an indicator of how little burden it was, but he doesn't make any notation about worries about loss or damage during travel, which may have potentially occurred to Paxson, given his practice and the value to him of the collection.

      May be worth looking deeper into to see if he had such worries.

    8. He had a separate bibliographical file,kept in six scantily filled drawers in his coat closet, and it is obvious

      that he used it little in later years. His author-title entries usually went into the main file, after the appropriate subject index cards.

      This is a curious pattern and not often seen. Apparently it was Paxson's practice to place his author-title entries into his main file following the related subject index cards instead of in a completely separate bibliographical file. He did apparently have one comprised of six scantily filled drawers which he kept in his coat closet, but it was little used in his later years.

      What benefits might this relay? It certainly more directly relates the sources closer in physical proximity within one's collection to the notes to which they relate. This might be of particular beneficial use in a topical system where all of one's notes relating to a particular subject are close physically rather than being linked or cross referenced as they were in Luhmann's example.

      A particular color of cards may help in this regard to more easily find these sources.

      Also keep in mind that Paxson's system was topical-chronological, so there may also be reasons for doing this that fit into his chronological scheme. Was he filing them in sections so that the publication dates of the sources fit into this scheme as well? This may take direct review to better known and understand his practice.

    9. While he didnot attempt to write down all that he thought and knew, apparentlyhe was seldom if ever at a loss to find a place for a note. He filedaway successive series of lecture notes, notes that he took on seminarreports, even notes on the scenery that he saw from a train.

      notes on pretty much everything....

      shows a more commonplace practice rather than just a zettelkasten focusing on his direct work.

    10. November 7, 1916: "I expect to vote for Woodrow Wilson

      I wonder if others use the sense making features of a note card system to think through their voting decisions? This seems an interesting and useful exercise which Paxson has done.

    11. At all events notes on news-papers comprise the greater part of the Paxson note collection
    12. s notes accumulated, hefiled them under new and subsidiary headings, with cross-references(on the index card) to related headings, which might be numerousand many years remote.
    13. he three-by-five inch slipsof thin paper eventually filled about eighty wooden file drawers.And he classified the notes day by day, under topical-chronologicalheadings that eventually extended from 4639 B.C. to 1949, theyear after his death.

      Frederic L. Paxson kept a collection of 3 x 5 " slips of thin paper that filled eighty wooden file drawers which he organized using topical-chronologic headings spanning 4639 BCE to 1949.

    1. It is possible this Miscellany collection was assembled by Schutz as part of his own research as an historian, as well as the letters and documents collected as autographs for his interest as a collector;


      Is it possible that this miscellany collection is of a zettelkasten nature?

      Found via a search of the Huntington Library for Frederic L. Paxson's zettelkasten

    1. Turner was never comfortable at Harvard; when he retired in 1922 he became a visiting scholar at the Huntington Library in Los Angeles, where his note cards and files continued to accumulate, although few monographs got published. His The Frontier in American History (1920) was a collection of older essays.

      Where did Turner's note cards and files end up? Are they housed at the Huntington Library? What other evidence or indication is there that this was an extensive zettelkasten practice here?

    1. Thomas, Keith. “Diary: Working Methods.” London Review of Books, June 10, 2010. https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v32/n11/keith-thomas/diary.

      Historian Keith Thomas talks about his methods of note taking and work as a historian. A method which falls into the tradition of commonplacing and zettelkasten, though his was in note taking and excerpting onto slips which he kept in envelopes instead of notebooks or a card index.

    2. When I go to libraries or archives, I make notes in a continuous form on sheets of paper, entering the page number and abbreviated title of the source opposite each excerpted passage. When I get home, I copy the bibliographical details of the works I have consulted into an alphabeticised index book, so that I can cite them in my footnotes. I then cut up each sheet with a pair of scissors. The resulting fragments are of varying size, depending on the length of the passage transcribed. These sliced-up pieces of paper pile up on the floor. Periodically, I file them away in old envelopes, devoting a separate envelope to each topic. Along with them go newspaper cuttings, lists of relevant books and articles yet to be read, and notes on anything else which might be helpful when it comes to thinking about the topic more analytically. If the notes on a particular topic are especially voluminous, I put them in a box file or a cardboard container or a drawer in a desk. I also keep an index of the topics on which I have an envelope or a file. The envelopes run into thousands.

      Historian Keith Thomas describes his note taking method which is similar to older zettelkasten methods, though he uses larger sheets of paper rather than index cards and files them away in topic-based envelopes.

    3. If a passage is interesting from several different points of view, then it should be copied out several times on different slips.

      I don't recall Langlois and Seignobos suggesting copying things several times over. Double check this point, particularly with respect to the transference to Luhmann.

    1. https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/yg2g8l/a_thought_experiment_what_if_luhmann_had_been_a/

      reply (unsent)<br /> I appreciate where you're coming from, and it's an excellent thought experiment. However, knowing that there was a clear older prior zettelkasten tradition for several hundred years prior to Luhmann which also included a number of mathematician practitioners including not only Leibnitz but also Newton, who incidentally invented his version of calculus in his waste book (also a part of that tradition). (See also: https://www.newtonproject.ox.ac.uk/texts/notebooks?sort=date&order=desc).

    1. now we need a much needed and truer history of zetelcaston and thankfully Chris aldricks is the person to provide us that

      We need a much needed and truer history of zettelkasten and thankfully Chris Aldrich is the person to provide us that. Stop reading all those other zettelkasten articles until you have a broader understanding of the historical perspective of where all this came from. I can't tell you how much I learned. There was more I didn't know than I did know by a... and it wasn't even close. So thank you Chris. You definitely need to read The Two Definitions of Zettelkasten.<br /> —Nick Milo, Linking Your Thinking, 2022-10-26,

    1. http://drummer.this.how/AndySylvester99/Andy_Zettelkasten.opml

      Andy Sylvester's experiment in building a digital zettelkasten using OPML and tagging. Curious to see how it grows and particularly whether or not it will scale with this sort of UI? On first blush, the first issue I see as a reader is a need for a stronger and immediate form of search.

      RSS feeds out should make for a more interesting UI for subscribing and watching the inputs though.

    1. The question often asked: "What happens when you want to add a new note between notes 1/1 and 1/1a?"

      Thoughts on Zettelkasten numbering systems

      I've seen variations of the beginner Zettelkasten question:

      "What happens when you want to add a new note between notes 1/1 and 1/1a?"

      asked at least a dozen times in the Reddit fora related to note taking and zettelkasten, on zettelkasten.de, or in other places across the web.

      Dense Sets

      From a mathematical perspective, these numbering or alpha-numeric systems are, by both intent and design, underpinned by the mathematical idea of dense sets. In the areas of topology and real analysis, one considers a set dense when one can choose a point as close as one likes to any other point. For both library cataloging systems and numbering schemes for ideas in Zettelkasten this means that you can always juxtapose one topic or idea in between any other two.

      Part of the beauty of Melvil Dewey's original Dewey Decimal System is that regardless of how many new topics and subtopics one wants to add to their system, one can always fit another new topic between existing ones ad infinitum.

      Going back to the motivating question above, the equivalent question mathematically is "what number is between 0.11 and 0.111?" (Here we've converted the artificial "number" "a" to a 1 and removed the punctuation, which doesn't create any issues and may help clarify the orderings a bit.) The answer is that there is an infinite number of numbers between these!

      This is much more explicit by writing these numbers as:<br /> 0.110<br /> 0.111

      Naturally 0.1101 is between them (along with an infinity of others), so one could start here as a means of inserting ideas this way if they liked. One either needs to count up sequentially (0, 1, 2, 3, ...) or add additional place values.

      Decimal numbering systems in practice

      The problem most people face is that they're not thinking of these numbers as decimals, but as natural numbers or integers (or broadly numbers without any decimal portions). Though of course in the realm of real numbers, numbers above 0 are dense as well, but require the use of their decimal portions to remain so.

      The tough question is: what sorts of semantic meanings one might attach to their adding of additional place values or their alphabetical characters? This meaning can vary from person to person and system to system, so I won't delve into it here.

      One may find it useful to logically chunk these numbers into groups of three as is often done using commas, periods, slashes, dashes, spaces, or other punctuation. This doesn't need to mean anything in particular, but may help to make one's numbers more easily readable as well as usable for filing new ideas. Sometimes these indicators can be confusing in discussion, so if ever in doubt, simply remove them and the general principles mentioned here should still hold.

      Depending on one's note taking system, however, when putting cards into some semblance of a logical sort-able order (perhaps within a folder for example), the system may choke on additional characters beyond the standard period to designate a decimal number. For example: within Obsidian, if you have a "zettelkasten" folder with lots of numbered and named files within it, you'll want to give each number the maximum number of decimal places so that when doing an alphabetic sort within the folder, all of the numbered ideas are properly sorted. As an example if you give one file the name "0.510 Mathematics", another "0.514 Topology" and a third "0.5141 Dense Sets" they may not sort properly unless you give the first two decimal expansions to the ten-thousands place at a minimum. If you changed them to "0.5100 Mathematics" and "0.5140 Topology, then you're in good shape and the folder will alphabetically sort as you'd expect. Similarly some systems may or may not do well with including alphabetic characters mixed in with numbers.

      If using chunked groups of three numbers, one might consider using the number 0.110.001 as the next level of idea between them and then continuing from there. This may help to spread some of the ideas out as surely one may have yet another idea to wedge in between 0.110.000 and 0.110.001?

      One can naturally choose almost any any (decimal) number, so long as it it somewhat "near" the original behind which one places it. By going out further in the decimal expansion, one can always place any idea between two others and know that there will be a number that it can be given that will "work".

      Generally within numbers as we use them for mathematics, 0.100000001 is technically "closer" by distance measurement to 0.1 than 0.11, (and by quite a bit!) but somehow when using numbers for zettelkasten purposes, we tend to want to not consider them as decimals, as the Dewey Decimal System does. We also have the tendency to want to keep our numbers as short as possible when writing, so it seems more "natural" to follow 0.11 with 0.111, as it seems like we're "counting up" rather than "counting down".

      Another subtlety that one sees in numbering systems is the proper or improper use of the whole numbers in front of the decimal portions. For example, in Niklas Luhmann's system, he has a section of cards that start with 3.XXXX which are close to a section numbered 35.YYYY. This may seem a bit confusing, but he's doing a bit of mental gymnastics to artificially keep his numbers smaller. What he really means is 3000.XXX and 3500.YYY respectively, he's just truncating the extra zeros. Alternately in a fully "decimal system" one would write these as 0.3000.XXXX and 0.3500.YYYY, where we've added additional periods to the numbers to make them easier to read. Using our original example in an analog system, the user may have been using foreshortened indicators for their system and by writing 1/1a, they may have really meant something of the form 001.001/00a, but were making the number shorter in a logical manner (at least to them).

      The close observer may have seen Scott Scheper adopt the slightly longer numbers in the thousands (like 3500.YYYY) as a means of remedying some of the numbering confusion many have when looking at Luhmann's system.

      Those who build their systems on top of existing ones like the Dewey Decimal Classification, or the Universal Decimal Classification may wish to keep those broad categories with three to four decimal places at the start and then add their own idea number underneath those levels.

      As an example, we can use the numbering for Finsler geometry from the Dewey Decimal Classification wikipedia page shown as:

      ``` 500 Natural sciences and mathematics

      510 Mathematics
          516 Geometry
              516.3 Analytic geometries
                  516.37 Metric differential geometries
                      516.375 Finsler geometry


      So in our zettelkasten, we might add our first card on the topic of Finsler geometry as "516.375.001 Definition of Finsler geometry" and continue from there with some interesting theorems and proofs on those topics.

      Of course, while this is something one can do doesn't mean that one should do it. Going too far down the rabbit holes of "official" forms of classification this way can be a massive time wasting exercise as in most private systems, you're never going to be comparing your individual ideas with the private zettelkasten of others and in practice the sort of standardizing work for classification this way is utterly useless. Beyond this, most personal zettelkasten are unique and idiosyncratic to the user, so for example, my math section labeled 510 may have a lot more overlap with history, anthropology, and sociology hiding within it compared with others who may have all of their mathematics hiding amidst their social sciences section starting with the number 300. One of the benefits of Luhmann's numbering scheme, at least for him, is that it allowed his system to be much more interdisciplinary than using a more complicated Dewey Decimal oriented system which may have dictated moving some of his systems theory work out of his politics area where it may have made more sense to him in addition to being more productive on a personal level.

      Of course if you're using the older sort of commonplacing zettelkasten system that was widely in use before Luhmann's variation, then perhaps using a Dewey-based system may be helpful to you?

      A Touch of History

      As both a mathematician working in the early days of real analysis and a librarian, some of these loose ideas may have occurred tangentially to Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646 - 1716), though I'm currently unaware of any specific instances within his work. One must note, however, that some of the earliest work within library card catalogs as we know and use them today stemmed from 1770s Austria where governmental conscription needs overlapped with card cataloging systems (Krajewski, 2011). It's here that the beginnings of these sorts of numbering systems begin to come into use well before Melvil Dewey's later work which became much more broadly adopted.

      The German "file number" (aktenzeichen) is a unique identification of a file, commonly used in their court system and predecessors as well as file numbers in public administration since at least 1934. We know Niklas Luhmann studied law at the University of Freiburg from 1946 to 1949, when he obtained a law degree, before beginning a career in Lüneburg's public administration where he stayed in civil service until 1962. Given this fact, it's very likely that Luhmann had in-depth experience with these sorts of file numbers as location identifiers for files and documents. As a result it's reasonably likely that a simplified version of these were at least part of the inspiration for his own numbering system.

      Your own practice

      At the end of the day, the numbering system you choose needs to work for you within the system you're using (analog, digital, other). I would generally recommend against using someone else's numbering system unless it completely makes sense to you and you're able to quickly and simply add cards to your system with out the extra work and cognitive dissonance about what number you should give it. The more you simplify these small things, the easier and happier you'll be with your set up in the end.


      Krajewski, Markus. Paper Machines: About Cards & Catalogs, 1548-1929. Translated by Peter Krapp. History and Foundations of Information Science. MIT Press, 2011. https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/paper-machines.

      Munkres, James R. Topology. 2nd ed. 1975. Reprint, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1999.

    1. Handwriting + Zettelkasten

      I've used Livescribe pens/paper for note taking (including with audio) before, and they've got OCR software to digital workflows. Or for the paper motivated, one could use their larger post it notes and just stick them to index cards as a substrate for your physical ZK with digitally searchable back ups? Now that I've thought about it and written this out, I may have to try it to see if it's better than my prior handwritten/digital experiments.

    1. TweetSee new TweetsConversationSamuele Onelia @SamueleOneliaI added a new note to my #Zettelkasten after a month of inactivity. It still remains my favorite kind of mental therapy.

      I added a new note to my #Zettelkasten after a month of inactivity.<br><br>It still remains my favorite kind of mental therapy. <br><br>BTW this is the note (from the book: Effortless) 👇 pic.twitter.com/QF2Uy3W3T6

      — Samuele Onelia 😺 (@SamueleOnelia) October 24, 2022
      <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
    1. What would you suggest instead if my goal is taking notes on various topics in order to remember them? (no output needed)

      reply to dhXcol https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/yc35nl/comment/itlmjbn/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

      You might appreciate the pre-Luhmann zettelkasten (or commonplace book traditions) which could serve this purpose, and most of the applications that you can use for ZK will work for these purposes if you're not an index card person. Some differentiation and pointers here: https://boffosocko.com/2022/10/22/the-two-definitions-of-zettelkasten/

    1. Les murs du cabinet de travail, le plancher, le plafond même portaient des liasses débordantes, des cartons démesurément gonflés, des boîtes où se pressait une multitude innombrable de fiches, et je contemplai avec une admiration mêlée de terreur les cataractes de l'érudition prêtes à se rompre. —Maître, fis-je d'une voix émue, j'ai recours à votre bonté et à votre savoir, tous deux inépuisables. Ne consentiriez-vous pas à me guider dans mes recherches ardues sur les origines de l'art pingouin? —Monsieur, me répondit le maître, je possède tout l'art, vous m'entendez, tout l'art sur fiches classées alphabétiquement et par ordre de matières. Je me fais un devoir de mettre à votre disposition ce qui s'y rapporte aux Pingouins. Montez à cette échelle et tirez cette boîte que vous voyez là-haut. Vous y trouverez tout ce dont vous avez besoin. J'obéis en tremblant. Mais à peine avais-je ouvert la fatale boîte que des fiches bleues s'en échappèrent et, glissant entre mes doigts, commencèrent à pleuvoir. Presque aussitôt, par sympathie, les boîtes voisines s'ouvrirent et il en coula des ruisseaux de fiches roses, vertes et blanches, et de proche en proche, de toutes les boîtes les fiches diversement colorées se répandirent en murmurant comme, en avril, les cascades sur le flanc des montagnes. En une minute elles couvrirent le plancher d'une couche épaisse de papier. Jaillissant de leurs inépuisables réservoirs avec un mugissement sans cesse grossi, elles précipitaient de seconde en seconde leur chute torrentielle. Baigné jusqu'aux genoux, Fulgence Tapir, d'un nez attentif, observait le cataclysme; il en reconnut la cause et pâlit d'épouvante. —Que d'art! s'écria-t-il. Je l'appelai, je me penchai pour l'aider à gravir l'échelle qui pliait sous l'averse. Il était trop tard. Maintenant, accablé, désespéré, lamentable, ayant perdu sa calotte de velours et ses lunettes d'or, il opposait en vain ses bras courts au flot qui lui montait jusqu'aux aisselles. Soudain une trombe effroyable de fiches s'éleva, l'enveloppant d'un tourbillon gigantesque. Je vis durant l'espace d'une seconde dans le gouffre le crâne poli du savant et ses petites mains grasses, puis l'abîme se referma, et le déluge se répandit sur le silence et l'immobilité. Menacé moi-même d'être englouti avec mon échelle, je m'enfuis à travers le plus haut carreau de la croisée.

      France, Anatole. L’Île Des Pingouins. Project Gutenberg 8524. 1908. Reprint, Project Gutenberg, 2005. https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/8524/pg8524.html

      Death by Zettelkasten!!

      (Coming soon to a theater near you...)

      In the preface to the novel Penguin Island (L'Île des Pingouins. Calmann-Lévy, 1908) by Nobel prize laureate Anatole France, a scholar is drowned by an avalanche of index cards which formed a gigantic whirlpool streaming out of his card index (Zettelkasten).

      Link to: Historian Keith Thomas has indicated that he finds it hard to take using index cards for excerpting and research seriously as a result of reading this passage in the satire Penguin Island.<br /> https://hypothes.is/a/rKAvtlQCEe2jtzP3LmPlsA

      Translation via: France, Anatole. Penguin Island. Translated by Arthur William Evans. 8th ed. 1908. Reprint, New York, NY, USA: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1922. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Penguin_Island/6UpWAvkPQaEC?hl=en&gbpv=0

      Small changes in the translation by me, comprising only adding the word "index" in front of the occurrences of card to better represent the historical idea of fiches used by scholars in the late 1800s and early 1900s, are indicated in brackets.

      The walls of the study, the floor, and even the ceiling were loaded with overflowing bundles, paste board boxes swollen beyond measure, boxes in which were compressed an innumerable multitude of small [index] cards covered with writing. I beheld in admiration mingled with terror the cataracts of erudition that threatened to burst forth.

      “Master,” said I in feeling tones, “I throw myself upon your kindness and your knowledge, both of which are inexhaustible. Would you consent to guide me in my arduous researches into the origins of Penguin art?"

      “Sir," answered the Master, “I possess all art, you understand me, all art, on [index] cards classed alphabetically and in order of subjects. I consider it my duty to place at your disposal all that relates to the Penguins. Get on that ladder and take out that box you see above. You will find in it everything you require.”

      I tremblingly obeyed. But scarcely had I opened the fatal box than some blue [index] cards escaped from it, and slipping through my fingers, began to rain down.

      Almost immediately, acting in sympathy, the neighbouring boxes opened, and there flowed streams of pink, green, and white [index] cards, and by degrees, from all the boxes, differently coloured [index] cards were poured out murmuring like a waterfall on a mountain-side in April. In a minute they covered the floor with a thick layer of paper. Issuing from their in exhaustible reservoirs with a roar that continually grew in force, each second increased the vehemence of their torrential fall. Swamped up to the knees in cards, Fulgence Tapir observed the cataclysm with attentive nose. He recognised its cause and grew pale with fright.

      “ What a mass of art! ” he exclaimed.

      I called to him and leaned forward to help him mount the ladder which bent under the shower. It was too late. Overwhelmed, desperate, pitiable, his velvet smoking-cap and his gold-mounted spectacles having fallen from him, he vainly opposed his short arms to the flood which had now mounted to his arm-pits . Suddenly a terrible spurt of [index] cards arose and enveloped him in a gigantic whirlpool. During the space of a second I could see in the gulf the shining skull and little fat hands of the scholar; then it closed up and the deluge kept on pouring over what was silence and immobility. In dread lest I in my turn should be swallowed up ladder and all I made my escape through the topmost pane of the window.

    1. Zettelkasten in the office of Clement Atlee, former Prime Minister of UK, in The Crown S1E4 "Act of God" (Netflix, 2016)

    2. https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/ur5xjv/handwritten_cards_to_a_digital_back_up_workflow/

      For those who keep a physical pen and paper system who either want to be a bit on the hybrid side, or just have a digital backup "just in case", I thought I'd share a workflow that I outlined back in December that works reasonably well. (Backups or emergency plans for one's notes are important as evidenced by poet Jean Paul's admonition to his wife before setting off on a trip in 1812: "In the event of a fire, the black-bound excerpts are to be saved first.") It's framed as posting to a website/digital garden, but it works just as well for many of the digital text platforms one might have or consider. For those on other platforms (like iOS) there are some useful suggestions in the comments section. Handwriting My Website (or Zettelkasten) with a Digital Amanuensis

    1. https://www.denizcemonduygu.com/philo/browse/

      History of Philosophy: Summarized & Visualized

      This could be thought of as a form of digital, single-project zettelkasten dedicated to philosophy. It's got people, sources, and ideas which are cross linked in a Luhmann-sense (without numbering) though not in a topical index-sense. Interestingly it has not only a spatial interface and shows spatial relationships between people and ideas over time using a timeline, but it also indicates—using colored links—the ideas of disagreement/contrast/refutation and agreement/similarity/expansion.

      What other (digital) tools of thought provide these sorts of visualization affordances?

    1. Worried about paper cards being lost or destroyed .t3_y77414._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } I am loving using paper index cards. I am, however, worried that something could happen to the cards and I could lose years of work. I did not have this work when my notes were all online. are there any apps that you are using to make a digital copy of the notes? Ideally, I would love to have a digital mirror, but I am not willing to do 2x the work.

      u/LBHO https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/y77414/worried_about_paper_cards_being_lost_or_destroyed/

      As a firm believer in the programming principle of DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself), I can appreciate the desire not to do the work twice.

      Note card loss and destruction is definitely a thing folks have worried about. The easiest thing may be to spend a minute or two every day and make quick photo back ups of your cards as you make them. Then if things are lost, you'll have a back up from which you can likely find OCR (optical character recognition) software to pull your notes from to recreate them if necessary. I've outlined some details I've used in the past. Incidentally, opening a photo in Google Docs will automatically do a pretty reasonable OCR on it.

      I know some have written about bringing old notes into their (new) zettelkasten practice, and the general advice here has been to only pull in new things as needed or as heavily interested to ease the cognitive load of thinking you need to do everything at once. If you did lose everything and had to restore from back up, I suspect this would probably be the best advice for proceeding as well.

      Historically many have worried about loss, but the only actual example of loss I've run across is that of Hans Blumenberg whose zettelkasten from the early 1940s was lost during the war, but he continued apace in another dating from 1947 accumulating over 30,000 cards at the rate of about 1.5 per day over 50 some odd years.

    1. "In the event of a fire, the black-bound excerpts are to be saved first," instructed the poet Jean Paul to his wife before setting off on a trip in 1812.

      Writer Jean Paul on the importance of his Zettelkasten.

    1. »Bei Feuer sind die schwarzeingebundnen Exzerpten zuerst zu retten«, wies der Dichter Jean Paul seine Frau vor Antritt einer Reise im Jahr 1812 an.

      "In the event of a fire, the black-bound excerpts are to be saved first," the poet Jean Paul instructed his wife before setting out on a journey in 1812.

      link to: https://hyp.is/BLL9TvZ9EeuSIrsiWKCB9w/ryanholiday.net/the-notecard-system-the-key-for-remembering-organizing-and-using-everything-you-read/

    1. What if something happened to your box? My house recently got robbed and I was so fucking terrified that someone took it, you have no idea. Thankfully they didn’t. I am actually thinking of using TaskRabbit to have someone create a digital backup. In the meantime, these boxes are what I’m running back into a fire for to pull out (in fact, I sometimes keep them in a fireproof safe).

      His collection is incredibly important to him. He states this in a way that's highly reminiscent of Jean Paul.

      "In the event of a fire, the black-bound excerpts are to be saved first." —instructions from Jean Paul to his wife before setting off on a trip in 1812 #

    1. Helbig, Daniela K. “Life without Toothache: Hans Blumenberg’s Zettelkasten and History of Science as Theoretical Attitude.” Journal of the History of Ideas 80, no. 1 (2019): 91–112. https://doi.org/10.1353/jhi.2019.0005

    2. In “collaboration with his Zettelkasten,”61 Blumenberg worked to por-tray these tensions between different and changing historical meanings ofscientific inquiry.
    3. Preceding anyspecific historiographical method, the Zettelkasten provides the space inwhich potential constellations between these things can appear concretely,a space to play with connections as they have been formed by historic pre-decessors or might be formed in the present.

      relationship with zettelkasten in the history of historical methods?

    4. Von Bu ̈ low and Krusche analyze this system as a medium of “conversationwith oneself,” where the Zettelkasten stands in for lacking or absent inter-locutors.19

      They write this, but was it before or after Luhmann wrote his essay on Communication with the Slip Box to suggest the idea? Presumably there was heavy influence here.

    5. Blu-menberg’s first collection of note cards dates back to the early 1940s butwas lost during the war; the Marbach collection contains cards from 1947onwards. 18

      18 Von Bülow and Krusche, “Vorla ̈ ufiges,” 273.

      Hans Blumenberg's first zettelkasten dates to the early 1940s, but was lost during the war though he continued the practice afterwards. The collection of his notes housed at Marbach dates from 1947 onward.

    6. Ulrich von Bu ̈ low and Dorit Krusche have documented Blumenberg’selaborate method of systematically arranging excerpts from the vast varietyof texts he read: “In Blumenberg’s case, nearly all acts of reading, interpre-tation and ordering took material shape within the Zettelkasten.” 17

      What sort of ordering did Blumenberg's zettelkasten exhibit?

      17 “Bei Blumenberg haben nahezu alle Aspekte der Lektu ̈ re, der Interpretation und der Ordnung im Zettelkasten materielle Gestalt angenommen,” von Bu ̈ low and Krusche, “Vorla ̈ ufiges,” 275.

    7. “Spectators come. They get to seeeverything, and nothing but that—as in an adult movie. And are accord-ingly disappointed.”16

      She quotes this from a second party rather than directly from Luhmann's zettelkasten: Niklas Luhmann, Zettelkasten II, index card no. 9/8,3 see: https://hypothes.is/a/LRCMnln_EeyW_OMPTJ3JiA

      16 “Zuschauer kommen. Sie bekommen alles zu sehen, und nichts als das—wie beim Pornofilm. Und entsprechend ist die Entta ̈ uschung,” as quoted in Ju ̈ rgen Kaube, “Alles und noch viel mehr: Die gelehrte Registratur,” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, March 6, 2013, http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/geisteswissenschaften/zettelkaesten-alles-und -noch-viel-mehr-die-gelehrte-registratur-12103104.html.

    8. Blumenberg’s near-obsessive reliance on this writing machinery

      Helbig indicates that Hans Blumenberg had a "near obsessive reliance on [his Zettelkasten as] writing machinery.

    9. Iforeground the role of his Zettelkasten as the site of developing his owntheoretical attitude as a historian and philosopher.

      in Life without Toothache, Daniela K. Helbig looks at the role of Hans Blumenberg's Zettelkasten as the site of his theoretical development as a historian and philosopher.

    10. Note cardshe struck through once or several times in red ink once he’d used them,then wrapped and hid away to avoid the risk of using them too often—asystem so integral to his own method of thinking and writing that it shapedhis understanding of other writers’ processes;

      Hans Blumenberg had a habit of striking out note cards either once or twice in red ink as a means of indicating to himself that he had used them in his writing work. He also wrapped them up and hid them away to prevent the risk of over-using his ideas in publications.

    11. There is a box stored in the German Literature Archive in Marbach, thewooden box Hans Blumenberg kept in a fireproof steel cabinet, for it con-tained his collection of about thirty thousand typed and handwritten notecards.1

      Hans Blumenberg's zettelkasten of about thirty thousand typed and handwritten note cards is now kept at the German Literature Archive in Marbach. Blumenberg kept it in a wooden box which he kept in a fireproof steel cabinet.

    1. Zettel aus den Kästen des Philosophen Hans Blumenberg Bild: dpa

    2. Kaube, Jürgen. “Zettelkästen: Alles und noch viel mehr: Die gelehrte Registratur.” FAZ.NET, June 3, 2013. https://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/geisteswissenschaften/zettelkaesten-alles-und-noch-viel-mehr-die-gelehrte-registratur-12103104.html

    3. Doch ganz gleich, ob der Zettelkasten auf ein Buch, ein Werk oder auf eine Gedankenwolke mit wechselnder Niederschlagsneigung hinauslief - er ist stets mehr als das Ganze, dessen Teile er gesammelt hat. Denn es stecken stets noch andere Texte in ihm als diejenigen, die aus ihm hervorgegangen sind. Insofern wäre die Digitalisierung des einen oder anderen Zettelkastens ein Geschenk an die Wissenschaft.

      machine translation (Google):

      But regardless of whether the Zettelkasten resulted in a book, a work, or a thought cloud with varying degrees of precipitation - it is always more than the whole whose parts it has collected. Because there are always other texts in it than those that emerged from it.

      There's something romantic about the analogy of a zettelkasten with a thought cloud which may have varying degrees of precipitation.

      Link to other analogies: - ruminant machines - the disappointment of porn - others?

    4. Andere Sammlungen sind ihrem Verwendungszweck nie zugeführt worden. Der Germanist Friedrich Kittler etwa legte Karteikarten zu allen Farben an, die dem Mond in der Lyrik zugeschrieben worden sind. Das Buch dazu könnte jemand mit Hilfe dieser Zettel schreiben.

      machine translation (Google):

      Other collections have never been used for their intended purpose. The Germanist Friedrich Kittler, for example, created index cards for all the colors that were ascribed to the moon in poetry. Someone could write the book about it with the help of these slips of paper.

      Germanist Friedrich Kittler collected index cards with all the colors that were ascribed to the moon in poetry. He never did anything with his collection, but it has been suggested that one could write a book with his research collection.

    5. Nicht wenige Kästen sind nur für ein einziges Buch angelegt worden, Siegfried Kracauers Sammlungen etwa zu seiner Monographie über Jacques Offenbach, das Bildarchiv des Historikers Reinhart Koselleck mit Abteilungen Tausender Fotos von Reiterdenkmälern beispielsweise oder der Kasten des Romanisten Hans Robert Jauß, in dem er für seine Habilitationsschrift mittelalterliche Tiernamen und -eigenschaften verzettelte.

      machine translation (Google)

      Quite a few boxes have been created for just one book, Siegfried Kracauer's collections for his monograph on Jacques Offenbach, for example, the photo archive of the historian Reinhart Koselleck with sections of thousands of photos of equestrian monuments, for example, or the box by the Romanist Hans Robert Jauß, in which he wrote for his Habilitation dissertation bogged down medieval animal names and characteristics.

      A zettelkasten need not be a lifetime practice and historically many were created for supporting a specific project or ultimate work. Examples can be seen in the work of both Robert Green and his former assistant Ryan Holiday who kept separate collections for each of their books, as well as those displayed at the German Literature Archive in Marbach (2013) including Siegfried Kracauer (for a monograph on Jacques Offenbach), Reinhart Koselleck (equestrian related photos), Hans Robert Jauß (a dissertation on medieval animal names and characteristics).

    6. Blumenberg's Zettelkasten - 30,000 entries in 55 years, i.e. almost 550 per year, which is not that much - obviously served the material management for books that he had planned and the collection of documents for theses that he had in mind, without that the reading work for it was completed.

      Blumenberg's Zettelkasten had 30,000 notes which he collected over 55 years averages out to 545 notes per year or roughly (presuming he worked every day) 1.5 notes per day.

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

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

    1. I recall that the Oxford English Dictionary was also compiled using a slip box method of sorts, and more interestingly it was a group effort.

      Similarly Wordnik is using Hypothes.is to recreate these sorts of patterns for collecting words in context on digital cards.

      Many encyclopedias followed this pattern as did Adler's Syntopicon.

    2. All materials available will be evaluated: Dictionaries, glossaries, and texts of a literary and non-literary nature. The slip box presently contains 1.5 million slips referring to 12 million references; the slips are supplemented by means of digital material.

      Dictionnaire étymologique de l’ancien français (DEAF) is a dictionary built out of a slip box containing 1.5 million slipswith over 12 million references.

    1. Klassische Editionen können nur schwer die komplexe Arbeitsweise von Jungius’ abbilden und niemals alle möglichen Querverbindungen aufzeigen. Insbesondere sind thematisch zusammengehörende Stellen oft weit voneinander entfernt abgelegt worden, so dass selbst der bis auf die Ebene der kleinsten Konvolute des Bestands („Manipel“ von durchschnittlich etwa 15 Blatt Umfang) hinunterreichende gedruckte Katalog von Christoph Meinel deren Auffinden nur wenig erleichtert. Ebenso wenig sind sie in der Lage, die Rolle von Zeichnungen und Tabellen oder gar die Informationen auf den Zettelrückseiten adäquat wiederzugeben. Aufgrund dieser Besonderheiten ist der Nachlass Joachim Jungius besonders attraktiv für eine Digitalisierung.

      machine translation (Google):

      Classic editions can hardly depict Jungius' complex way of working and can never show all possible cross-connections. In particular, passages that belong together thematically have often been filed far apart from each other, so that even the printed catalog by Christoph Meinel, which extends down to the level of the smallest bundles of the collection (“Maniples” averaging around 15 pages in size), makes finding them only slightly easier. Nor are they able to adequately reproduce the role of drawings and tables or even the information on the backs of notes. Due to these special features, the estate of Joachim Jungius is particularly attractive for digitization.

      It sounds here as if Christoph Meinel has collected and printed a catalog of Joachim Jungius' zettelkasten. (Where is this? Find a copy.) This seems particularly true as related cards could and would have been easily kept far apart from each other, and this could give us a hint as to the structural nature of his specific practice and uses of his notes.

      It sounds as if Stabi is making an effort to digitize Jungius' note collection.

    2. Der Nachlass ist aber nicht nur ein wissenschaftshistorisches Dokument, sondern auch wegen der Rückseiten interessant: Jungius verwendete Predigttexte und Erbauungsliteratur, Schülermitschriften und alte Briefe als Notizpapier. Zudem wurde vieles im Nachlass belassen, was ihm irgendwann einmal zugeordnet wurde, darunter eine Reihe von Manuskripten fremder Hand, z. B. zur Astronomie des Nicolaus Reimers.

      machine translation (Google):

      The estate is not only a scientific-historical document, but also interesting because of the back: Jungius used sermon texts and devotional literature, school notes and old letters as note paper. In addition, much was left in the estate that was assigned to him at some point, including a number of manuscripts by someone else, e.g. B. to the astronomy of Nicolaus Reimers.

      In addition to the inherent value of the notes which Jungius took and which present a snapshot of the state-of-the art of knowledge for his day, there is a secondary source of value as he took his notes on scraps of paper that represent sermon texts and devotional literature, school notes, and old letters. These represent their own historical value separate from his notes.

      link to https://hypothes.is/a/m2izykwGEe2TaktJuW0Qgg

    3. Sein Nachlass umfasst u. a. Notizen zu allen wichtigen naturphilosophischen Fragen seiner Zeit und Briefwechsel mit seinen Schülern, die sich an den verschiedenen Universitäten des protestantischen Deutschlands und der Niederlande aufhielten. Er schrieb Literaturauszüge, Beobachtungsmitschriften, Vorlesungsvorbereitungen und anderes mehr auf kleine Zettel, von denen heute noch knapp 42.000 in der Stabi erhalten sind.

      machine translation (Google):

      His estate includes i.a. Notes on all important natural-philosophical questions of his time and correspondence with his students who stayed at the various universities in Protestant Germany and the Netherlands. He wrote excerpts from literature, observation notes, lecture preparations and other things on small pieces of paper, of which almost 42,000 are still preserved in the Stabi today.

      Die Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg Carl von Ossietzky (Stabi) houses the almost 42,000 slips of paper from Joachim Jungius' lifetime collection of notes which include excerpts from his reading, observational notes, his lecture preparations, and other miscellaneous notes.

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dU7efgGEOgk

      I wish he'd gotten into more of the detail of the research and index card making here as that's where most of the work lies. He does show some of his process of laying out and organizing the cards into some sort of sections using 1/3 cut tabbed cards. This is where his system diverges wildly from Luhmann's. He's now got to go through all the cards and do some additional re-reading and organizational work to put them into some sort of order. Luhmann did this as he went linking ideas and organizing them up front. This upfront work makes the back side of laying things out and writing/editing so much easier. It likely also makes one more creative as one is regularly revisiting ideas, juxtaposing them, and potentially generating new ones along the way rather than waiting until the organization stage to have some of this new material "fall out".

    1. Does anyone else work in project-based systems instead? .t3_y2pzuu._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      reply to u/m_t_rv_s__n https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/y2pzuu/does_anyone_else_work_in_projectbased_systems/

      Historically, many had zettelkasten which were commonplace books kept on note cards, usually categorized by subject (read: "folders" or "tags"), so you're not far from that original tradition.

      Similar to your work pattern, you may find the idea of a "Pile of Index Cards" (PoIC) interesting. See https://lifehacker.com/the-pile-of-index-cards-system-efficiently-organizes-ta-1599093089 and https://www.flickr.com/photos/hawkexpress/albums/72157594200490122 (read the descriptions of the photos for more details; there was also a related, but now defunct wiki, which you can find copies of on Archive.org with more detail). This pattern was often seen implemented in the TiddlyWiki space, but can now be implemented in many note taking apps that have to do functionality along with search and tags. Similarly you may find those under Tiago Forte's banner "Building a Second Brain" to be closer to your project-based/productivity framing if you need additional examples or like-minded community. You may find that some of Nick Milo's Linking Your Thinking (LYT) is in this productivity spectrum as well. (Caveat emptor: these last two are selling products/services, but there's a lot of their material freely available online.)

      Luhmann changed the internal structure of his particular zettelkasten that created a new variation on the older traditions. It is this Luhmann-based tradition that many in r/Zettelkasten follow. Since many who used the prior (commonplace-based) tradition were also highly productive, attributing output to a particular practice is wrongly placed. Each user approaches these traditions idiosyncratically to get them to work for themselves, so ignore naysayers and those with purist tendencies, particularly when they're new to these practices or aren't aware of their richer history. As the sub-reddit rules indicate: "There is no [universal or orthodox] 'right' way", but you'll find a way that is right for you.