Raymond K. Nakamura
When you need more


Random synaptic activity

Zettelkasten (Note taking approach)

I have been working on this idea of collecting notes on things after reading about a German sociologist Luhmann who kept slips of paper in boxes (zettelkasten) with an elaborate coding system that allowed him to figure out where the different cards were. So he would have reference material information and cards that were indexes of ideas and so on apparently. Some people are trying to resurrect this method with digital approaches. In some cases they have created new apps. I could have used the version of Notational Velocity which I’ve had for a long time and wondered how I might use. Of the others, I might try these, but if this approach works, it will need to be something that lasts, and so I wanted something that has some proven reliability and effectiveness. At the moment I am using Tinderbox because I already had it. So other apps would work also. It kind of bugs me to pay as much as I do for it every year, but in a way this makes me look for more ways to use it. It is easy to create notes and move them around and include attributes. I might have used Devonthink, but I use that for archiving whole documents and emails and I kind of have to store it in one location it seems. So I am making an effort to take notes on interesting things I read and watch and hear and put them in this. I am concerned about it slowing down as it gets larger but having notes has been kind of fun. The thing that got me hooked was the idea that it makes writing easier if you already have notes to work with. This perhaps applies more to academic or nonfiction writing, but it is kind of stimulating. Given that anything could really be a seed for a cartoon or a story, I think it makes sense to build it. I had been bothered by all the the ideas I consume but do not really make use of. When I had been writing blog posts for Science World, I was saving documents in separate files of Tinderbox or Scrivener or Evernote or Devonthink. I saw this point about the illusion of gathering information when you are just copying it. So you have to make it in your own notes. So that is what I am attempting to do and keeping the notes all together so that they might be reused in the future for other things. So let’s see how it goes. I have not been directly linking the notes together, but relying on tags so they they could be searched later if I needed. In the original conception the sequential linking was apparently a useful thing, but I don’t know about that. Tinderbox also has this ability to lay notes out in a map to rearrange them. I might do that for subsets I am working on. But the general input is in a outline list form. It is a all text based this approach, but to loosen things up a little, I have been adding icons. Maybe I should be using emojis if I end up changing formats later. Maybe not critical. It is kind of weirdly fun to build this collection of ideas.