How do you use AI to create notes for Zettelkasten?

My idea is to have one generic single prompt for a Large Language Model like ChatGPT to:

  • Read an article or blog post.
  • Generate a list of atomic ideas to select from.
  • Create Literature Notes from selection in a given structure and format.
PROMPT: Read article and create notes. v1.5
Hello my friend,

Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. Here is my prompt framework with five steps I want to use to initiate our conversation. 

Hints: The prompt framework is formatted in mark down. Do not use text marked as comment (``%%text%%``).

***

**Step 1:  Setting the Stage**
- Act as an experienced user of Zettelkasten methodology from Niklas Luhmann as published by Sönke Ahrens.

**Step 2:  Defining the Objective**
- I want you to support me in generating Literature Notes from a given article or blog post.

**Step 3: Structuring the Interaction**
1. **Start Interaction:**
Please ask me for getting an article for further investigation.

2. **Extract Atomic Ideas:**
Please analyze the given article or post and identify its fundamental atomic ideas. These are the smallest, indivisible concepts or pieces of information present in the post. List them out for further processing. 

3. **Identify Key Insights:**
From the list of atomic ideas you've extracted, identify the most important and significant insights. These are the main takeaways or concepts that the blog post is conveying. 
List these key insights in a numbered list. 
Use a grading scale with a range from 1/10 to 10/10. Use 1/10 for least important, 10/10 for most important. 
Sort key insights from high to low.

4. **Ask for selection**
Please ask me to select some of these insights for further use.

5. **Create Summaries:**
For each key insight I‘ve selected, write a concise summary in a paragraph. The summary should capture the essence of the insight while remaining succinct and informative.

6. **Generate Descriptive Titles:**
Using the key insights and summaries you've created, come up with descriptive titles for each of these insights. These titles should provide a clear idea of what the insight is about, while also being catchy and engaging. Titles are no longer than 10 words. They only use characters and numbers, no special characters.

**Step 4: Requesting Specific Information**
- Whenever you generate an answer explain the reasoning and assumptions behind your answer so that I can improve my questions.

**Step 5: Summarizing and Concluding**
- Please prepare your results in mark down format and use the following template:

- - -
**TITLE** 
> SUMMARY 
Tags: LIST OF TAGS
Keywords: LIST OF KEYWORDS
- - -

- Do not use `:` in TITLES.
- Words in CAPITAL LETTERS are placeholders for your input. Start with a new line for each item.
- Create LIST OF TAGS with nested tags like: ``type/note`` ``theme/zettelkasten`` etc.

***

From now on use the rules above. But before starting, feel free to ask me any question that may help you to improve the quality of your answers.

%%
PROMPT - Read article and create notes, v1.5, 2023-08-30 
by Edmund Gröpl
More about: https://github.com/groepl/Obsidian-Templates
%%

I’m sure it will need some experiments to get best results. What are your ideas?

3 Likes

I’d say you should always write your own notes, not have AI do it for you, because writing is thinking and writing the notes forces you to understand it more deeply than copying down AI content.

3 Likes

I’ve also been experimenting with AI for this purpose, and I still am, with part of the focus on what prompt to give it, but more importantly how exactly does it fit into my workflow.

Identifiying key takeaways or key insights like you have in your prompt seems like a harmless one to me that doesn’t interfere with my understanding of the subject matter. That being said, I also want to be able to connect my own thoughts and ideas, so I’m considering adding the ones I select from it under a special header which I call AI thoughts. We’ll see.

Congrats on working on this prompt so much. I’ll test it out.
I especially like how you started it, since I try to use AI like that as well in this process: using it as a friend that would be interested to talk about that topic and help me identify or process my thoughts. Almost like a brainstorming partner.

2 Likes

Yes for sure. But sometimes it‘s a good training for my brain to compare the result from AI with my own thinking. For me AI is one of my preferred dialogue partners.

Oh, that’s a great idea! Having two lists: One with my own thoughts, one with the thoughts of AI. I‘ll give it a try. :+1:

Talking to a friend makes a difference. And ChatGPT already knows the concept of being a friend. We can also use the „Persona Prompt“ at the beginning of our dialogue: „Act like a friend.“

I find it’s sometimes useful to ask LLMs to explain a difficult concept in plain English, then summarize the response by hand or through another prompt to record in my commonplace notes.

Yes, if you don’t get something, you shouldn’t just copy & paste. However, if you’ve already got it and want to have a quick refresher in the future when you inevitably forget, then it’s fine to copy an LLM’s response IMO.

“Summarize the above response into a shorter summary that could perceivably fit onto an index card” is a particularly useful prompt.

1 Like

As a software developer, I’d be intrigued in using a chatbot the same way I use github copilot. Over there, AI isn’t reallly asked questions, it just analyzes your code and acts as a better autosuggest based on what you’ve just written.

That can be nice and would be something I’d be trying out. Other than that, using it as a conversation partner after you’ve already written your notes down and you ask them to see whether they bring up new aspects you hadn’t considered yet seems fine-

1 Like

Thank you for sharing. I‘ll use it to build up my Zettelkasten toolkit. :+1: