Earlier this week I realised I needed to improve my note taking/making into note using. Throughout the week I’ve been looking at Zettelkasten for it seems to be the preferred method for building up a large repository of useful notes designed to be inputs into writing.

Now that I’ve stopped for the week and have a few days of my own time ahead of me, the flood gate of thoughts have opened and I need to pin some of them down or I’ll never relax.

Integrating different note systems

The most important article I read today is Zettelkasten, Linking Your Thinking, and Nick Milo’s Search for Ground by Bob Doto. I’m already familiar with Nick Milo’s Linking Your Thinking (LYT) work and I have structured my Digital garden around his ideas1. What I learned was that Zettelkasten is a different way of thinking and not necessarily complimentary way of thinking. I’m not so sure. I can see how the process of creating notes using each method has its benefits. I like the idea of letting notes evolve (LYT) while I can see benefits in other notes starting from the bottom up.

Time will tell. What needs to happen in the short term is a considered review of my current note structure. I am going to try very hard not to get lost in reorganising my notes, but I do need to work through some of the inconsistent practices I have and lay out a consistent way forward. Notes, as they evolve and get updated, can move into that new structure over time. I don’t think it’s too bad as it stands. It’s the volume of 3,835 notes and different types that I need to be mindful of.

A Zettelkasten system is primarily about storing notes for the purpose of writing. A LYT system is primarily about sense-making and creating links between related pieces of information. My system contains both types of notes as well as journal entries, pure reference or process notes such as my exiftool scripts, information about the computer games I’ve played, article texts and more.

I am not willing to split all this. The co-location and linking across all these types of notes is highly valuable to me.

I have created a rough note of the points I need to look at tomorrow. They cover folder structures, tagging, Map of content, and properties (dates primarily). Some needs to go, some needs to stay, and some needs to be created.

Redefining the digital garden

I may rephrase all “Digital Garden” references to “Thought Garden” as a way to remind me I’m detailing with a garden of thoughts and ideas that change and evolve over time, and not a garden of “digitals”.

I am likely to remove the Evergreen, Budding and Seedling markers from notes in the garden. I’m not convinced they add any real value. A note is finished or it’s not, and they aren’t ever fixed finished. I expect a visitor to the site doesn’t care if they even notes. Nothing in the Zettelkasten process suggests this is necessary and that’s what prompted the question.

Blogs are sources too

I have to remember to treat my blog and journal entries as first class sources. Clearly, journal entries won’t be published online, but blog entries are. Another person would treat them no differently from the way I would treat one of their blogs as a source.


  1. Organising digital knowledge across multiple systems