Another way to look at it is as building a personal wiki, often using just markdown. I’ve started using it to document my work, learnings, stuff from what I’m reading, and more. As you connect ideas together with hyperlinks, it enriches your overall understanding of the relationships between ideas, leading to new insights.
The most important parts of building a zettelkasten:
- Create a new file for each concept you want to document
- Generously link documents together, based on relevancy and context
- If an idea spans multiple notes, make a new one and link those notes back to the new note with context
- Use tools to visualize relationships between notes (The above tools include these out of the box) to help explore connections between ideas.
A few examples of public Zettelkasten include Andy Matuschak, Anne-Laure Le Cunff, and Gwern. Go visit them for a few minutes to get a feel for how this approach works, and how it helps structure what you learn.
Anyone else use an approach like this? I’ve started doing this in my work, and it’s been fun to watch it naturally grow as I collect and sort ideas.