218 - Zettelkasten as a Knowledge Explorer
One way to better understand and think about the purpose of a zettelkasten is to compare it to an explorer.
You are an explorer who has reached a new and magical world! The first thing you do is set up “the index”. The index is your original port city, the biggest hub where information is located and a place to branch off from. You aren’t just any explorer though, you also happen to be a cartographer.
- Setting up outposts for further exploration
- Refining the Existing Maps
Exploration is the act of searching for the purpose of discovery of information or resources.
Often early cartographers will have made a low resolution map of a new area. Where you are pretty much familiar with all the parts but are unsure how they are connected. When exploring the west, part of your journey will be on paths created by past explorers. Even though these routes aren’t novel, you can still add them to your map. In the zettelkasten, this would be established knowledge that you just haven’t learned yet. As you explore, you might find faster routes between two places then the previously established route. In the zettelkasten, this would be finding a connection between two concepts that people haven’t considered.
At some point you will be charting lands people haven’t discovered or mapped out in a rudimentary way. In the zettelkasten, the equivalent would be your own novel theories or academic research you are part of.
Setting up outputs for further exploration in your new world would be laying out all the different parts of a concept that you know about. Then as you read more books on the subject, you add more parts/dimensions to it. An example of this is when you first start learning about a field of science. You start out with the definition of the field, then start mapping out all the different sub-fields.