Posts tagged “tool”

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.


  • 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!)

Using Trello as a Zettel Note Archive

If you paid attention to the comments feed of the past couple of months, you will know Nick already. He’s tinkering with interesting plain text stuff – I won’t spoil anything right now; I hope Nick will some day show us the power of plumber, instead. Then just like that he tried out Trello as a Zettelkasten note archive and wrote this amazingly detailed review, including animated GIFs and a sample Trello board to demonstrate what the Trello software can do. This is probably the most detailed post on the entire blog, with more than 50 links and 15 images!

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OneNote Review

Today DutchPete, one of the most avid commenters on this blog, will help us fill the gap in software reviews for Windows by talking about OneNote as a Zettelkasten note archive. OneNote is part of the Microsoft Office family and thus available for a lot of different platforms, too, so this is not strictly speaking a PC-centered review. Now let’s see which conventions and techniques make DutchPete productive.

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RSS Feed Reading and Filing -- Automatization on Mac and iOS

Among the items I wanted to process for a while was Patrick Welker’s “How I Handle my RSS Queue on the Mac and iOS. He automatted away a lot of the steps you’d usually need to perform when you skim through your list of RSS subscription items and want to file away some of the posts you find interesting.

His setup is rather elaborate and the things he links to are pretty useful to read on their own.

With the latest iOS 8, it became a lot easier to do tasks like this without putting a universal script execution app as a middleman between your feed reader and the filing mechanism. With the new “app extensions”, you can send information from your feed reader directly to a note-taking application. No copy and paste needed, no additional script needed.

I have used this during commute extensively since I bought my iPad two weeks ago: if I think a post is worth keeping, I bookmark it at the excellent Pinboard web service, send the address and title to the Drafts 4 app extension, where I sketch the Zettel note, and then save it to my Zettel inbox. This inbox is processed about once a week. – But I’ll talk about this in more detail soon.

Do you happen to own an Android device and can fill the rest of us in how you process RSS subscriptions on your phone?

ConnectedText Review (and Other Multi-Purpose Info-Managers for Windows)

Paul J. Miller wrote an extensive review of ConnectedText you might want to have a look at if you’re running Windows and are still looking for a note-taking application which does more than store notes.

We’ve added Paul’s review to our ConnectedText “tools” entry where you find other resources to get you started.

ConnectedText is hard for me to describe because it can do so many things, provided you set up some templates to get you there. I leave it as a research task to you, the reader, to find out what the app may do for you.

More interestingly, Paul mentioned the other Windows apps he tried in the past. See his MyInfo review (seems to have a great search) and his Ultra Recall review (the Calendar view sounds nice for an all-purpose info manager). If ConnectedText isn’t your thing, maybe one of these is. Keep in mind that all three do more than store notes in an archive. You can manage most of your life with them if you want to, it seems.

Neither Sascha nor I have hands-on experience with any of the three apps. Share what you think with us in the comments!

DEVONthink as a Zettelkasten Note Archive

Today we host our good friend Marko as he tells us of the basic note-taking capabilities of DEVONthink and its appliance to the Zettelkasten method. The Zettelkasten method propagates heavy use of the note archive, stuffed with your own interpretations of things you have learned. The user we have in mind usually is a student of humanities, reading a lot and writing a lot. DEVONthink is capable of doing far more than managing notes, though. It can also in part replace a reference manager. Or you may benefit from its ability to deal with large amounts of files when it comes to seeking similarities in original sources. This can become really interesting for historians, for example.

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Zettel Note Header Automation in NvALT

An essential priniciple of a Zettelkasten is its flexibility. From there you can derive maxims like “you should avoid proprietary software”, and “you should use plain text notes to ensure longevity”. That’s why I don’t use a fancy application with lots of spectacular features but the simple nvALT instead. Here’s how I automate note creation to speed up my workflow.

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