Who the f%ck is he you ask?
German Sociologist, with over 70 books and almost 400 papers. Considered one of the most important social theorists of the 20th century¹.
Apart from all the amazing things I’m sure he has done (you can look it up on Wikipedia) he has invented a new note-taking method.
Imagine a world where you don’t categorize everything before you actually want to. Forget putting notes into folders that are into folders and on and on.
Write first, Organize Later.
What if your notes could talk to each other like free objects in space?
Or like neurons talk to each other?
Enter the Zettelkasten Method.
What is this Lucas? Where are you getting at?
Zettel -> German for Note
Kasten -> German for Box
It is a method of using addressable cards with a focus on linking ideas together.
Here’s a sample Zettel:
As you can see, there are three main things a Zettel must have, Unique Identifier, Body, and References. Links, tags, and citations work as connections to other Zettels.
Why would someone do something like that? Isn’t it just a note?
Why use it?
The path of producing a certain content, be it a blog post, tweet storms, or a book, eventually leads you to create other things on the side, byproducts.
And those byproducts become the next building blocks for other projects.
Most importantly, you need to be able to find those byproducts once you moved to a different topic.
And that’s where the method comes in. It works as a way to address the notes you wrote without some fixed hierarchy.
More on how it works in detail in a future post.