Daily Dispatch 20 - Web of Ideas
Continuing the previous post on Zettelkasten.
The Zettelkasten Method assumes we are to create a web of things. At each node, we’ll have only one thing.
So if you plan on creating a web of thoughts, each Zettel should contain a single thought.
And each should have a unique id so it is referenceable.
Lastly, each zettel must have an original meaningful thought written in your own words.
What’s the value of that? It’s not as straightforward until you experience it for yourself, but I can give you some compelling arguments for these steps.
1st – Path of a Finished Project
According to Luhmann, during each project, you’ll have several Byproducts, and those are the building blocks for other future projects.
So any note-taking method should take into account that sometimes you’ll need to write down completely unrelated ideas.
Imagine having to worry about creating special folders on the computer, or coming up with completely different ways to organize entries in a journal so you won’t get lost or sidetracked.
Using the Zettelkasten Method, you only have to focus on providing addressable Zettels. That is it. As long as your byproducts have a unique address, you’ll be fine to find them later. And so you spend less time outside of the main project.
You take a byproduct note, and then stuff it anywhere you put your other notes. Then go back to the main project.
2nd – Power of Linking
Now, why do we need unique addresses and put them on every note?
Because this approach doesn’t favor preemptive hierarchization, we need to come up with a way to find our notes after we take them.
How do we link something without a unique id? We don’t.
When you relate pieces of knowledge with others, you create relationships between those pieces of knowledge.
Knowledge relationships significantly improve recall and forming those relationships trains your brain to look for patterns. After all, connection is learning.
3rd – Discoverability
Linking needs two things. First, we need the address as we mentioned, and second, we need the confidence that the links will lead us to something meaningful.
That is why it is important to give context to the relationships between Zettels. Not just copy-pasting links over a zettel.
Otherwise, your future self won’t ever know why he/she needs to follow the link.
We don’t want to make our future self disappointed.
If surfing a web of thoughts without confidence that following a link will lead to something meaningful, your future self you judge your past self.
He/she will find you boring and unreliable.
In the next few posts, I’ll share some zettelkasten examples to make the idea more concrete.