Honest Alternatives to Zettelkasten

  • I dabbled in several of the methodologies early on: LYT and P.A.R.A.
  • As a fledge, they fit my yearn to adopt a framework and learn a tool. But my lack of discipline knocked me off the wagon; to many things accumulated as todo tags and follow-up work. Serendipitous me felt overwhelmed.
  • So, I gave up on doing anything more than creating links for interesting words and phrases; many of which are still not actual notes. Most of these I create on a kindle or in Readwise / Reader then both into Obsidian.
  • I also gave up trying to keep a complete breadcrumb trail from source ideas or notes to final manuscript (be it essay, presentation, or book chapter).
  • An example, I was obsessed with non linear plot forms and the use of strong secondary characters in prose. For over a year I chased and scoured content on these two phrases notating occurrences of them as links. Then, of course, another shiny tangent cropped up … off I go creating links for other phrases.
  • Over the course of this winter, both of the earlier phrases came up again.
  • All I had to do was search for those links using the core search plugin. At first I created a MOC type of note “non linear plot forms” with an embedded query. I could fish thru all that specific link information and draw from it into a series of notes for longer form work I was collaborating on.
  • Becoming fluent with the search plugin (and now the Bookmark functionality to save searches) means I don’t have to link everything together in breadcrumb fashion. And with saved searches as a bookmark I can revisit later.
  • The vault is becoming much more valuable now; albeit not formally structured. I use a handful of folders mostly for staging incoming info and status type tags in YAML.
  • The benefit of establishing my vault my way is that it will provide useful fodder as a reference heap to use with ChatGPT and other pending AI gleaning tools. Because my info hoarding and writing has a unique style and voice; an imprint if you will.
  • There is also merit, for me, in having content “disappear” for a while. It ferments into something that I re-visit with a different set of eyes; totally creative.
  • It is worth noting that Luhmann did not have modern software tools. He linked the only way that was possible at that time. Modern tools, in my view, don’t require such an adherence to atomicity. Besides, a little bit of friction to search for something is healthy.
  • Like you this is not a zettlelkasten hate-post:)
  • TLDR - I like your reminder about nature and nurture. Nature has provided us with a tool that can be nurtured into our own custom valued stash of meaningful fodder.
  • Appreciate your words. Cheers!