How do you keep your literature notes relevant in your Zettelkasten?

This is really a question about the broader topic of Literature Notes workflow, but for some context.

I listen to a lot of different podcasts, videos, and articles (mostly non-scientific articles at the moment … {btw, I do read books too, but I dont complete them as frequently}) and I find myself taking notes on them. A concern I have about this is that I don’t know if I will be revisiting these notes (nearly as much) again once I have permanent notes. I feel like I need a place to put them, in case I want to revisit, but I just don’t know if that place is my zettelkasten. I can probably put them on Notion or in a new Obsidian vault or someplace else, if anything, and am testing that out for a bit, but I’m not feeling so strongly about these options right now.

So, how do you manage to keep your literature notes relevant in your zettelkasten? Do you feel the need to revisit them as much as any kind of note? Do you feel the need to export them to other storage areas, perhaps as a way to declutter?

3 Likes

I keep them in a “References” folder in Obsidian. I like being able to link them to my own Notes, and dislike managing two apps for the same purpose when one will suffice. My hope is the search and graph view will eventually have filters to let me include or exclude that folder depending on what I’m doing.

As far as review - I tend to keep all new notes (Reference or Permanent) in an Inbox folder in Obsidian after a first draft. Once I’ve accumulated enough (say every day or so) I’ll do a “synthesis” session which is mostly a quick review to figure out if there are some meaningful links and back links to setup before going into a Reference or Notes folder.

Those with no obvious links go into an archive folder which I may or may not ever get to. I don’t think it’s necessary to perfectly file every note, it should be natural to let some disappear from view until they are needed in the future, if ever.

3 Likes

I like the idea of keeping them in Obsidian. And I might end up going that route. But the system that I’ve been setting up is keeping that kind of thing in Devonthink.

The guys that run Zettelkasten.de think you should get rid of literature notes.

That might be ok for them, but I would hate to lose the ability to look back at them if I needed to for some reason.

1 Like

Thanks for responding.

I think I’d favor keeping these notes into a different vault if it were possible to allow for links to notes in other vaults. That way, I probably don’t gotta worry about to possibility of Obsidian slowing up on me: Noticeable drop in performance of editor when file explorer displays over 1,000 items (ik this one is old and the OP acknowledged an improvement with Obsidian since posting it, but it still speaks to the idea of how much Obsidian can take).

1 Like

Your literature notes are on DT? Do you link back to them in Obsidian?

I think Zettelkasten adherents tend to be too dogmatic in exactly what qualifies as a save-worthy note, how and where to file, and what to keep longer term. As noted in Evergreen notes, many of these people are specialists in note taking, rather than in producing written work from them. When I tried to follow that method very closely some of it felt like busy work for the sake of OCD archiving, and others felt like deletion for the sake of only keeping “pure wisdom”. The system surely worked for its creator, but that doesn’t mean it must work for ever work flow.

My own advice - think about your workflow and work backwards in your current process, thinking about how modified note taking and organization can help those steps. Apply Zettelkasten, Evergreen, and other methods only where it feels appropriate and productive. Be willing to diverge from the “official” method, keeping your own workflow in mind.

9 Likes

That’s the plan so far. I think. Literature notes are one file with the reference info at the top. Each permanent note can then link to that note using an external markdown link [Source](Devonthink url)

2 Likes

I tried to stress test the app, and at 5k notes there are lags, although way more manageable than 10k.

Have you both tried stress testing on your computers?

I have not stress tested. if lag becomes a problem it will be fairly trivial to split my References folder into a different vault (still Obsidian), although obviously that would be less advantageous.

If good Zotero integration comes at some point that would be welcome, also - all references there and notes on those references in Obsidian. I tried it as is and the lack of integration makes it too cumbersome, but I see how it eventually could work well.