Zettelkasten

The Zettelkasten Method – German Edition

Staying on top is key to manage knowledge and information. It’s important to be quick and have a flexible process you can trust to achieve this.

The Zettelkasten Method is that flexible technique to deal with knowledge in an individual way. You can realize the principles with a few keystrokes without having to learn complex or expensive software.

The Zettelkasten Method is second to none in its power and simplicity. Your Zettelkasten will become the almost invisible helper throughout your day and life.

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Latest Posts

The Archive (Mac app) Beta Invitation

app screenshot
Early development preview

Folks, the time has come to reveal THE ARCHIVE – our very own app to for knowledge work.

It’s not just another note-taking app; you can get note-taking solutions anywhere. It’s an app for productive knowledge work, built with a software-agnostic approach in mind.

The app empowers you to write, and it gives you a powerful interface for manipulating your notes to facilitate connections. Meanwhile, its plain text paradigm, powered by Markdown, allows you to access your data with a plethora of other apps. You get all the upsides of method-specific features and cut the downsides of being boxed in.

You know we value plain text because that’s the only way to store data reliably. Text files are the future. And The Archive will make your work future-proof.

If you have a Mac and want to help us test the heck out of the app, sign up for the beta mailing list where we’ll post updates during development and recruit testers from:

http://zettelkasten.de/beta/

By the way, many asked for an English translation of Sascha’s Book on the Zettelkasten Method. There will be a better solution: a comprehensive online course. It will walk you through the basic and advanced techniques of knowledge work. In addition, we will explain everything through extensive use case discussions and showcasing different apps.

Zettelkasten Live Ep. 7: Visualizing Branching Off in your Archive

In this week’s episode, Sascha pulled out the digital pen and visualizes the notes from the archive that grew over the past couple of episodes. You’ll see how local structures turn into entry points of new topics and how note sequences (“Folgezettel”) can be created from a messy start.

We discussed weak ties (tags) and strong ties (links) and note sequences (“Folgezettel”) in a post about Different Kinds of Ties in more detail, so if you feel you need to catch up with the jargon first, read that post and make sure to have a look at the awesome comments.

Also, if you agree that I am much prettier with facial hair, don’t hesitate to offer suggestions in the comments. Every input is welcome, as always.

Note Archive for Music?

Reader Kekeli reached out via e-mail a while ago and told us about an interesting problem: how do you organize, annotate, and file audio files?

This must be a problem similar to organizing video footage. In other words, it must be a problem that’s been solved at least once over the years for DJs.

I’d treat audio files like PDFs: it’s source material that needs to be managed, but apart from maybe simple tagging in the reference/audio management app, I’d write most stuff as regular Zettel notes in my Zettelkasten note archive and reference the source material from there.

If you happen to know a good way to file and annotate non-textual data like audio tracks, please share with us in the comments!

Zettelkasten Live Ep. 6: Automation, Dumbing-Down, Business, and 2 Idiots on the Balcony

In this week’s episode … lots of things have happened. There was no clear outline this time, but we further talked about the dangers of automatization and how clever apps can dumb you down.

Also:

  • Our ““business”” plans: get rid of money and do this here for fun & create a community around all this knowledge work stuff.
  • Ulysses (the popular writing app for Mac) was ripped off 😱 Danger lies everywhere for businesses and users alike. Pick your tools wisely – and as a dev, create software that doesn’t suffer from replicas.

Also, check out this book:

Matthew B. Crawford (2010): Shop Class as Soulcraft. An inquiry into the value of work, Penguin Books. (Affiliate link)

– it’s not going very deep, and the bad rep it gets on GoodReads has a point, but the inspiration for the work we do was huge! The book pointed out a lot of concepts that I can use in my Zettelkasten work and to make the upcoming Archive app great. Crawford’s models and historical interpretations are very fruitful to understand the work we all do and what’s going on in out professional lives.

Zettelkasten Live Ep. 5: Automation is Dangerous

In this week’s episode we talked about the dangers of automatization. In short, the computer may help you find stuff, but if you rely on its power 100%, you will end up with a homogenous mush of notes. That’s when we also mentioned Nassim Taleb’s notion of the “barbell method” to antifragilize your life .

Thanks to our long term question asker Mr. Andersen, Sascha demoed branching of notes from two directions: top-down and bottom-up. You can find that in the last 15 minutes or so. (More precise annotations are always welcome in the comments!)

Zettelkasten Live Ep. 4: Structure, Structure, Structure. Bringing Order to Your Archive

In today’s episode we used our crappy English (I don’t know what went wrong today) to talk about misconceptions when using the Zettelkasten: you cannot automate yourself away. The archive always needs an intelligent (!) user to help generate ideas, and you need to take note of them for later retrieval.

Also, Mr. Andersen was with us again and this asked about a proper reading workflow. (Answers about 55mins into the video.) Our response was pragmatic:

  • If you think the text is something you want to refer to as a unit later, create a structure Zettel note that resembles the text’s outline or table of contents.
  • If you only need parts of the text, take what you need and add proper citation. Don’t worry about being thorough for the sake of being thorough.
  • All in all, strict rules like “you always have to create a book note that resembles the book’s structure” don’t take you far. Go with the flow and experiment. Different things works best at different times.

Relevant posts:

A Few Website Changes

I’ve updated this website a bit. Apart from minor visual tweaks (icons!), the highlights include:

  • The navigation now includes other cornerstone pages!
  • There is a new Zettelkasten Live overview with the calendar and important links to watch us talk.
  • I finally added a list of guest posts to highlight the amazing community contributions! The blog archive now also highlights them. This was long overdue, sorry!

Oh, and Sascha and I scheduled the next Zettelkasten Live episode to upcoming Thursday, Feb. 16th, 4:00 p.m. UTC+1! We collected a ton of questions and I don’t know where we’ll start, yet. Thanks for sending your questions to us!