André Chaperon got in touch and told us how much he loves The Archive and the Zettelkasten Method – and then went on to summarize the gist of the method and app usage for his fellowship of small business owners. His process includes paper-based notes, which are taken in a leisurely manner, meant to be thrown away later manner, and ends with Tinderbox-based visualizations to get an overview. With all the “Getting Started” links and helpful details, this is a great resource to get started. Read “How to create Idea Babies: A Knowledge Processing System for Marketers, Creators, and Knowledge Workers”.
Sascha’s Comment: Use cases are very interesting. If you think about them they can give you great insights into the method of creative knowledge work, especially if the particular use case is not from your field of expertise. As a scientist you can learn a lot from a small business owner. The similarities allow you to extract general rules of creative knowledge work.
Christian’s Comment: André’s post could be the starting point you’ve been missing on this very website for so long. His summary of the Zettelkasten Method is spot-on. I really like that he presents a full slice of a piece of work, from summarization on paper to notes because that makes it so much more valuable. (I may be biased after André opened the conversation with a declaration of his love for The Archive. Full disclosure: I’m the developer of said app :))
Christian’s Comment: I’m familiar with programming and the humanities, but I always wondered how a Zettelkasten could work for fine arts – or music, for that matter. I’m looking forward to hear progress reports by Dr. Foley that go into detail!
Sascha’s Comment: I think that shows the power of a plain text approach. Basically, all you need to do is to manipulate text. That means that you should set up a system that makes your manipulation abilities so powerful that the bottleneck in your workflow is not determined by your fingers but by your thinking. Great work, Doc. :)
As a native macOS app, you can use iA Writer to sync with Dropbox, iCloud, and other folder-based sync services and either use their mobile or Windows counterparts, or whatever else you like. No boxing-in.
I’ve never used this hypertext writing environment called Tinderbox. In the end, I’m a proponent of the plain text approach and keeping your knowledge portable, so there wasn’t much appeal in trying out the app. But its community looks nice, the developer is a cool guy, and the app looks solid and makes people happy. Maybe it can make you happy, too.
Anyway, make sure to take a look at Beck’s blog. The posts’s illustrations are tasteful and I find the topics to be very interesting, too.
Update: Reader Russ pointed out that Tinderbox files are XML, which you could use in your own scripts or 3rd party tools. So you aren’t really locked in.
When people ask me, “Christian, what’s the best Zettelkasten Method-compatible app on iPads and iPhones?”, I always tell them about 1Writer. Its search is good. It syncs files with a ton of services. It handles #hashtags.
And now it also supports [[Wiki Links]].
That makes it an even better companion to our very own macOS app, The Archive, and the plain text productivity techniques we encourage people to use.
In the nearby town of Paderborn, there’s a community-organized meetup called “MacMittwoch” (literal translation: “MacWednesday” – guess when they meet :)). These fine folks produce a podcast, too, and their Farid Mésbahi and Gordon Möller visited Sascha and me in Bielefeld for a very nice chat. The result is Episode 15: Der Zettelkasten.
We talked about The Archive, but even more did we talk about the Zettelkasten Method in general, about emerging structure versus folder management, and why we value software agnosticism above all. Farid and Gordon are very welcoming and curious hosts, and Sascha and I are pleasant to the ear as always, of course, so you will want to listen to this episode (1h 8min; German only).