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On note taking with Zettlekasten

15 March, 2023

I found out about the Zettlekasten note taking method in early 2021 and got interested in learning more about it. So I started using it with Emacs using using Org-roam and Deft, and a quick config I threw together. I synced my notes to my Nextcloud instance.

After a few months of on-and-off usage, I found that learning how to properly employ Zettlekasten in my daily scenarios required me to go out of my way to remember to take notes in a Zettlekasten-y way.

It took daily practice and regular usage for the method to become ingrained. Aside from the time it took to get comfortable with org-roam itself, I found that it can be a lot of dull work to employ the idea of fleeting note taking and regular sessions of connecting between the notes and rearranging them, keeping what's needed and trashing the frivolous.

I do a lot of research on various topics that I'm interested in, but I haven't managed to employ it as a note taking method consistently enough while working on larger projects. I like the fact that I can use something like org-roam within Emacs, but it can also be awkward at times as I usually have other things opened there and switching around between code buffers and lots of note buffers can get annoying.

Having simple markdown permanent note files that are: longer, more conceptual, and more free-form always seemed to be a better option for me. I could restructure the little paragraphs and sentences in a single project file faster and easier. I didn't find actual use for the "connected web of thoughts" idea other than the cool visual it can provide.

Looking over the notes that I have written so far, I think I can discard about 90% of them. But I was also very happily surprised to find a few quotes I liked from a book I was reading, a couple of bookmakrs, and some bits of random articles I have read and decided to preserve for some reason.

Currently I think of it like a diary for my laptop. It helps me remember what I did previously and connect the dots of where I started and ended on a specific topic (with roam-tags). I'd like to write a simple program at some point to combine between the idea of being able to create, collect and connect smaller notes in a Zettlekasten-manner, and being able to quickly rearranged together into a longer note format format automatically. I'd also like to be able to start multiple instances of this program together, one for each project basically for better brain-space isolation.