Digital Zettelkasten

Digital ZettelKasten: Principles, Methods, and Examples


  • The purpose of Zettelkasten is to explore the connection between notes.
  • Zettelkasten helps you ship writings.
    • It helps you to:
      1. retain what you read
      2. retrieve it quickly
      3. know what to read next
      4. develop your ideas
    • But ultimately the goal is to produce a piece of writing at the end.
  • You can still read for pleasure without writing notes. Don't think you need to write notes and highlight things for every piece of article or books you read.
    • Only do it for things you do want to retain and use for your purpose later.
  • It's not useless to write things down word-for-word if you want is exactly that: to refer to the exact text later.
  • Otherwise, it is better to process that into your own words.
    • re-writing it involves actively thinking about it, and this fires a different part of your brain.
    • it leverages your brain's power to associate a piece of knowledge with other existing ideas.
  • Using Google to substitue your memory and using a Zettelkasten is different.
    • The association does not happen in your brain.
  • Using a a pen and paper could have benefits.
    • Research shows that writing by hand improves retention.
  • In fleeting notes, you need to record enough of the context so that when you access it later to turn that into a literature note, you can recall what you were thinking when you were reading it.
  • Choosing the right keyword allows you to explore your Zettelkasten effectively.
  • Archivist's mind and writer's mind pick keywords differently
    • archivist: how do I choose a keyword so that I can retrieve this easily without second guessing?
    • writers: how do I choose a keyword so that it's useful in writing later?
  • Try choosing keywords that are specific to an idea.
  • Links or tags? They serve similar purposes.
  • highlighting the highlights -> "progressive summarization" (Tiago Forte)