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How to Improve Your Zettelkasten by Learning from Athletic Training

The benefits of your Zettelkasten highly depend on the longevity of each note. Since the Zettelkasten as life-long companion and comrade in the battle for and against knowledge is a long-term endeavor, it is crucial that you create notes and structures that will last a long time. The minimum goal should be that they last a lifetime, so they are optimally designed for yourself. Ideally, they last forever, so future generations can benefit from your work as well.

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Improved Translation of “Communications with Zettelkastens”

Disclaimer: The original article by Luhmann is charged with his unique concepts that he developed for his social systems theory and a laconic German that is typical to the north of Germany. This is a strange challenge for any translator since you want to be faithful to the original, but at the same time there is a need similar to transposition in music: Transposition means that you lift everything up a pitch. I’d like to show you a translation of a paragraph that highlights the issue of translation itself:

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Little Machines in Your Zettelkasten

A basic description of a Zettelkasten could be that it is just a hypertext of your notes. But this definition falls short of the intended goal to create a tool that assists your thinking. Technically, an interconnected quote collection could be a tool to assist your thinking and it would meet the above definition of a Zettelkasten: It is a hypertext of your notes (which consists of just quotes in this example). But it violates the spirit of what a Zettelkasten is. An interconnected quote collection does not express the full potential of the Zettelkasten Method since your past self could have created vastly more value for your current self. It is up to you how much you want to invest in your future self.

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