(this ended up longer than expected but hopefully its useful…)
I don’t use aliases simply because I prefer to think in terms of the specific concepts as I put them into the zettelkasten. This reinforces the ideas as a cohesive interlinked framework that is etched a bit deeper into my mind each time and which begins shaping how I see and interact with new information, finding ways to incorporate it into my existing mental models. This is how we build up our mental models which we use as lenses through which we understand the world around us. Learning something new then becomes an extension of an existing branch of knowledge, so my ZK evolution is directional in that it expands in particular directions (as opposed to being a place where information is thrown in haphazardly without intentional links to it), similar to an amoeba moving through space to find food. Though I don’t agree with him on much, Jordan Peterson describes much the same thing in this short video on note taking: Jordan Peterson: Don't Take Notes During Lecture! - YouTube
For this purpose, I don’t want to have to be presented via autocompletion with
[[abstractions leak (202104101809)]] and
[[abstractions leak (202103101209)]] and
[[abstractions bleed into each other (202104101809)]] .
What is the difference between that and seeing exactly the same things as aliases without the suffixes?
What I’ve found in my own archive is that not only is there no issue with having notes with slightly divergent titles but in fact they help tease out potentially subtle nuances between them that I had not considered before. Sometimes this happens intentionally and sometimes accidentally. (ex: I am in a hurry and forget that I wrote about
X and make a link to
X' to get my thoughts/learning/whatever into the note) What happens is eventually I realize this and then can analyze them to see if they truly represent separate ideas or not. If so then perhaps one or both should get slightly reworded titles. Or they should be merged into a single note.
When I find notes that need to be reworked or merged I simply tag them with
#refactor and a statement of what/why, and eventually I will get around to updating them. Out of about 800+ notes in my ZK 29 are tagged for refactoring to some degree, several of which are tagged to consider merging two notes together. Ex: I have two notes named
Generic topic-based note tagging is an anti-pattern and
Create a personal idea ontology instead of adopting the terms of others that are tagged with a note that they may well need to be merged at some point. Even though I don’t have “refactoring days” where I spend time cleaning up, I do occasionally work on one when I come across the tag during regular use of the ZK. And even when I don’t make any changes (which is often) the tag acts as a signal that this note is “a bit messy” so I take that into account when I read it.
In other cases there is no need to rework or merge them because even though they are closely related they are distinct enough that it’s worth keeping them separate. For example I have a note titled
Discard information to gain clarity which is closely related to (but slightly different from)
Bound a problem to gain control. They are both applicable to thinking and decision making, but the first is also applicable to things signal processing, networking, statistics (binning), and other domains while the second is not applicable to those but is applicable to certain types of computational decision algorithms. If I follow a link to one I can follow its link to the related note (in either direction) if desired.
If I were to find “Abstractions bleed into each other” a more appropriate title I would simply rename the note so as to update my mental model. (I don’t happen to agree with that particular statement because there are other specific aspects of leaky abstractions that I’m focused on, but that’s beside the point and reflects my views, while yours are equally valid and work for you)
The ID suffix was added because I use external tools to add notes to my vault so I needed a means to ensure there would never be a collision. For example, Alfred. If I accidentally typed the name of a note that already exists into it I didn’t want it to accidentally overwrite an existing note, since this is supposed to be my prized collection of lifelong knowledge.
Now that I’ve split my vaults I suspect there will be less automated insertion into the ZK vault, as it should be, so the IDs may eventually become unnecessary.