It seems to me that one of the greatest benefits of Luhmann’s Zettelkasten approach was a byproduct of his numbering system, and it’s something I have not been able to entirely reproduce in Obsidian or its plugins without limiting the autocomplete links and/or file explorer functionalities. The benefit in question is that Luhmann was able to generate topics without ever once having to identify the topic.
- Let’s assume a numbering system of 1, 2, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 3b1, 3b2, 3b2a, etc).
- Let’s also assume that every time we write a new note, in addition to linking it to related notes, we file it directly after the note to which it feels most pertinent. So if it’s most pertinent to note 4c2a, we number the note 4c2b.
- After several weeks of work, it becomes apparent that clusters are forming. Let’s say there are 30 notes between 4c2b and 4c2c.
- We can be reasonably certain that there is a fertile area of inquiry starting at card 4c2b, and we have discovered it without our thinking being once distorted, disrupted, or limited by the question of taxonomy.
Graph view offers a partial solution to this problem, but it makes no distinction between the weak links of mere association versus the extraordinarily strong links implied by direct serial proximity. Our choice of which single note we filed a new note behind contains important information that is lost in graph view.
One obvious solution is to just name the files 1.md, 1a.md, etc. But that destroys autocomplete and file explorer functionalities.
The next idea is to name files e.g. “1a mirroring and free will.md”. This is the method I’m using, but it’s less than ideal. It retains most of the functionality of autocomplete but limits file explorer functionality. It slows down the process of creating links and makes markdown significantly uglier and less legible. Nobody wants to see a bunch of links that look like this in their header: [[1a1a1a1a1a testimonial knowledge|testimonial knowledge]]. Moreover, this approach limits the functionality of the file explorer, in which every filename will be preceded by note numbers of varying character length, so that in order to see the more informative part of the file name (‘testimonial knowlege’), we’ll have to enlarge the file explorer pane significantly, reducing the size of our workspace. It also clutters and makes hideous the graph view.
I am quite confident that there is already an elegant solution to this, and that I just haven’t found it yet in the forums/general PKM discourse. Can anyone point me in the right direction?