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Last post Author Topic: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten  (Read 8201 times)

Dormouse

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Because of the issues mentioned in recent topics. OneNote changing; Surfulator expiring; Evernote ???ing. And everything always changing or disappearing. I'd seen a number of strange folks switching to Markdown and keeping everything in plain text notes, and I'm starting to think they may not be so strange.

I want to control what stuff is local and what is on the net. I want to control access. I want to be able to use my stuff on Linux, Android, iOS. Maybe even Mac. I want to be able to work on all my devices. I don't want my workflows constantly disrupted by software updates or bugs. I  might, if I'm very very lucky, want to retrieve it in 40 years time. At some point I may not have the capacity to change; I hope that point hasn't arrived yet, but now is a better bet than next year.

So it seems to me that I could, maybe, work quite well with files, plain text or not. Names including a date stamp. I'd need a powerful text search ability, preferably with the ability to a batch adding or changing of text (Powergrep?, Textpipe?). I might also need a file renamer to add the date/time stamp so each file name is unique. I'm not sure about tagging; text tags inside the file would be less vulnerable. If I wanted to use another program to work on some of the files, I could just copy it in.

I was also wondering whether it was worth seeing what a zettelkasten methodology might to for my workflows, and to some extent that triggered my thinking about the switch above.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2019, 02:16 PM by Dormouse »

superboyac

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2019, 03:19 PM »
there is a product that will help you do this, i believe it is AM-notebook.
https://www.aignes.com/notebook.htm

superboyac

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2019, 03:23 PM »
but i do not think you have to go there yet (I'm in the same boat)

if onenote really got bad, i'd go back to RightNote.  Rightnote developer does not seem like the type to abandon the software/users, and even if he did, he seems like he would make exporting etc nice for his customers.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2019, 04:42 PM »
I have Rightnote. Lifetime licence.
I think I had AM-Notebook at one time.

The problem with both is that the stuff is in the programs, they're Windows only and not accessible from elsewhere. I appreciate the advantage of database based programs, which is why I have stuck with them and tired and bought so many. And I don't discount using them. But I'm considering having them only for an active use rather than stuff in general.

With files, I can use virtually any program to create them, and to modify them; I can use them on all devices, access them from the internet and never have to worry about import or export. Feels as if it is worth an experiment. Not that I would export everything immediately and do a switch. I'd just start using a new system and take stuff from older programs as I needed to work with it.

I'd have to say, just looking at the features, that AM-Notebook has come a long way since I last looked at it.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2019, 05:24 PM »
One other thought I had, triggered by some zettelkasten reading, was the possibility of being more productive if I was working with fewer programs and more simply focused on files and links. Working on files, it's easy to switch to a different program for a particular feature (and back again) without disruption. Trying to do that with database programs is definitely not like that. It leads to doing one set of things in one program and another in another etc. And there's permanent feature dissatisfaction.

I don't know. I always regarded it as an odd and obviously inefficient approach. But now I'm not quite so sure.

wraith808

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2019, 05:58 PM »
I'm in the plain text group.  It allows me to work between platforms, which I like.  I just use texthaven, which is a note program that works on the file system with whatever plain text format you throw at it.  I have different root folders for those things that I want to sync online vs the things that I don't want to sync online.

The only feature that I wish that it had was tags or some sort of tagging system, but I can do without, and a sync to Simplenote.  I formerly used ResophNotes to sync to simplenote, so that I could keep my online folder synced with simplenote to be able to get it from the browser.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2019, 11:10 PM by wraith808 »

superboyac

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2019, 06:05 PM »
I have Rightnote. Lifetime licence.
I think I had AM-Notebook at one time.

The problem with both is that the stuff is in the programs, they're Windows only and not accessible from elsewhere. I appreciate the advantage of database based programs, which is why I have stuck with them and tired and bought so many. And I don't discount using them. But I'm considering having them only for an active use rather than stuff in general.

With files, I can use virtually any program to create them, and to modify them; I can use them on all devices, access them from the internet and never have to worry about import or export. Feels as if it is worth an experiment. Not that I would export everything immediately and do a switch. I'd just start using a new system and take stuff from older programs as I needed to work with it.

I'd have to say, just looking at the features, that AM-Notebook has come a long way since I last looked at it.
i see.  yes with the access requirement you are going to have a hard time finding something.  I'll be interested in what you come up with.
if rightnote added a web access syncing feature (like mylifeorganized), then it would be perfect, as their exporting features are excellent.

One other thought I had, triggered by some zettelkasten reading, was the possibility of being more productive if I was working with fewer programs and more simply focused on files and links. Working on files, it's easy to switch to a different program for a particular feature (and back again) without disruption. Trying to do that with database programs is definitely not like that. It leads to doing one set of things in one program and another in another etc. And there's permanent feature dissatisfaction.

I don't know. I always regarded it as an odd and obviously inefficient approach. But now I'm not quite so sure.
i go through this thought process also.  i don't think it would be very inefficient.  It wouldn't be as streamlined as something all in one, but so what?  i think it is worth trying out.

i don't think efficiency is tied to # of programs.  what is a program?  something on the screen with buttons.  you can just pretend the entire screen is one program with different windows and areas.  lol. 

this is what ive come up with so far:
you have all your document files.  word, emails, databases., etc.
you have an indexer
you can search anything with the indexer.

linking and stuff?  probably not.  not in any kind of way that works across all the files.  you can probably have http links or file:/// links max.

to me, the key ingredient would be the indexer.  i have archivarius, which is great, but one thing is terrible....the text results are plain text, no pictures, and no formatting, it would be ideal if it could show the actual document the way it is.
other indexers are not as good as archivarius and i haven't tried in a long time.  some of those copernic, desktop search, x2, were ok, but slow and klunky.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2019, 06:23 PM »
i have archivarius, which is great, but one thing is terrible....the text results are plain text, no pictures, and no formatting, it would be ideal if it could show the actual document the way it is.
other indexers are not as good as archivarius and i haven't tried in a long time.  some of those copernic, desktop search, x2, were ok, but slow and klunky.
I have Archivarius too.
I'm not  convinced it is really great. Slows computer. Indices grow too big. I also haven't used it in a long time, although I updated a few years ago and tried it once. I'm hoping that text based files can be searched fast without an index with a grep type program. Haven't tried it yet though.

There's a number of ways of doing linking. Folders are traditional, but require thought and effort at the beginning; and they're rigid. Tagging programs would work, but that's back to a database again and not working on all platforms.  Tags inserted into file text would work, and search programs like Powergrep will do that as a batch process. Saved searches could also work as a quick link. There can also be direct links where linked files are listed as part of a file or as a separate text file that contains a list of the linked files. I agree that this is potentially the most problematic area, but this may not be important if I don't go zettelkasten.

rgdot

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2019, 09:21 PM »
I have done something for a while and I think app mentioned it here recently too. Obviously not exactly what you are looking for but comes closer than you might think. A local WordPress installation.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2019, 04:50 AM »
I have done something for a while and I think app mentioned it here recently too. Obviously not exactly what you are looking for but comes closer than you might think. A local WordPress installation.
Did that once. Has its plus points.

The main idea is being independent of any particular software and therefore having a system that is fairly immune to software change/collapse, so Wordpress doesn't do that. I need it on the web too as I want to be able to access most info from anywhere. I think I'll keep Wordpress for websites.

Had to rescue information from a borked (hacked) installation once too. Doable, but wasn't quick to put it back together again.

I remain not even slightly persuaded of the need to go full Markdown though.

wraith808

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2019, 09:53 AM »
I remain not even slightly persuaded of the need to go full Markdown though.

It really depends on your usecase.  I don't use strictly markdown- I use plaintext when I need to, and even todotxt.  It's the one reason I've contemplated making my own texthaven replacement so that it would support rendering those formats.  But for now, having them in those formats where I need them is enough for me; I use dedicated editors when the formatting matters.

superboyac

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2019, 11:39 AM »
I've been reading about the zettelkasten method here last couple of days.  I like it.  I'd be interested in software that can do this.  Sounds like a wiki of some sort.

superboyac

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2019, 11:56 AM »
I'm looking at the zettelkasten software out there:
ConnectedText, i remember trying this years ago, but was still in the traditional notetaker mindset.  I'll give it another shot.  Looks interesting
Zkn3, seems more zettelkasten specific.  would give it a try.  i suspect connectedtext is more polished and easier to use.

could i really break free of hard coded organization and categorizing structures that most notetakers have?  even onenote, with its freeform whitespace, is still organized by the pages/tabs (same as a hierarchy).  but with zettelkasten software, the ties will be made sort of automatically somehow using the words, and links can be created between them. 

also, here is IainB (the master!) writeup of zettel a few years ago:
http://www.donationc...x.php?topic=31755.50
worth a read.

wraith808

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2019, 12:47 PM »
I still have that software that he recommended, though I never used it.  You can download it from https://my.pcloud.co...r8p1D6MB3vTP9h4vwa9X.  I don't have the installer, but it runs after installing Java Runtime.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2019, 03:57 PM »
I remain not even slightly persuaded of the need to go full Markdown though.

It really depends on your usecase.  I don't use strictly markdown- I use plaintext when I need to, and even todotxt.
I can see that.
I feel as if I might have stumbled on to a very slippery slope and am gathering speed, with Markdown the next bump in the road, and no clear idea of an end zone.

In practice, at this point, everything will depend on the speed and effectiveness of the search app. Too slow or clumsy and there's more lost than gained.

I've realised that I might make extra efficiencies. Not having stuff spread across a number of database programs and not easily accessing all documents in the file system because I've lost the name. I could find them with Archivarius or other programs, but the waiting time means it has never been worth it. I could consolidate on one database program, but then all eggs are in one basket and each program has specific advantages that I have tried to leverage.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2019, 08:53 PM by Deozaan, Reason: removed accidental link to nowhere »

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #15 on: October 24, 2019, 05:03 PM »
I've been reading about the zettelkasten method here last couple of days.  I like it.  I'd be interested in software that can do this.  Sounds like a wiki of some sort.
I'm looking at the zettelkasten software out there:
ConnectedText, i remember trying this years ago, but was still in the traditional notetaker mindset.  I'll give it another shot.  Looks interesting
Zkn3, seems more zettelkasten specific.  would give it a try.  i suspect connectedtext is more polished and easier to use.
I read a comprehensive take down of the value of the Zkn3 program recently. Didn't record where. I'll see if I can find it.
I'd already decided that most of these recommended programs and systems were too rigid and am unconvinced they reflect any advantages of a zettelkasten method. In theory, I think many programs can work, and do appreciate the apparent similarity to wikis.

I need to do more comprehensive reading and thinking, but my view of zettelkasten is that it is a workflow with a process that aids remembering and thinking. Index cards are incredibly flexible.

I am not convinced that the descriptions I have seen reflect the original method in use. I'm concerned by the use of cod psychology ('this is the way the brain works') as a justification. I recognise a number of key concepts:
  • Atomicity. One thing, free standing. The positional links go up, not down as in a wiki; once they are placed, you can go down. When a card is placed, it is into a sequence of equal cards, again unlike a wiki. It should be possible to replicate a card system with a wiki, but I believe that the thinking in the doing of it from scratch would be different with each method and that the results would also therefore be different in practice.
  • Linking. I appreciate the types of links: direct (card-to-card), positional. Also that cards can be removed and mixed and used with a group of other cards and then replaced exactly where they came from. I'm not sure of the value of the positional links because I'm not sure how he actually used them once he'd got it all done. Presumably he wrote a new card every time he had a thought about another card or set of cards and that card would then contain direct links.

As I say, I don't know much and need to do a lot of reading. Then I might have some useful thoughts, an implementation method, and an opinion on whether zettelkasten is more than a pound of sausages. But my lack of knowledge doesn't stop me thinking that the main commentators have got aspects of it badly wrong. And that thinking about software programs takes you down a garden path into a walled garden whereas Luhmann was wandering in the wilderness, making notes and seeing new things.

superboyac

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2019, 06:09 PM »
dormouse, nice thoughts.
I just spent some time today with the zekkel stuff.  Yea...I'm not terribly convinced.

As IainB says in his onenote threads, the problem with the zettl is that it doesnt include images, videos, etc.  It's centered around text.  And his method of using onenote to me is much nicer/easier/better for software than zettel would be.

I looked over what i have in onenote, and it still is the best I've come across.  these other solutions, as you say, have brain things in mind, and something about this is how the brain works.  But to translate that to software doesn't seem to work the same way.  I mean eventually you are going to end up with text or some content, and then how are you going to access and organize it?  that's the jist of it.

so, I'm still on onenote.  there was another guy that said onenote is not good if you have thousands of notes.  But what is?  you can still search for anything and find it, so no big deal to me.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2019, 06:15 PM »
I read a comprehensive take down of the value of the Zkn3 program recently. Didn't record where. I'll see if I can find it.
Probably this one
But this apparently competing website recommends it as part of their system

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2019, 06:37 PM »
As IainB says in his onenote threads, the problem with the zettl is that it doesnt include images, videos, etc.  It's centered around text.  And his method of using onenote to me is much nicer/easier/better for software than zettel would be.
The system does include images, videos and anything else that's used. But they are resources that the cards link to. So you could have film that you were analysing. you would do a card for each thought about the film and put in a link to the film presumably noting the point in the film you were referring to (assuming it one a single point). You have your card index and you have your resources. Not the same thing.

And if your thought was visual, then you could draw it on a card.
The system was designed by an academic for his academic work so most of the content is naturally text. But wouldn't have to be that way for someone else.

I'm sure you could do the system on OneNote. But I very much doubt it would be as effective as the original, even if it were Luhmann himself doing it.

Software naturally shapes and restricts the thoughts that come when using it. The more feature full the software is, the more the thinking is moulded into the shape of the program.

I believe that this is the problem I see with much of the discussion of the system. They see the wooden box, they see the cards with unique numbers, they notice that the numbering system continually forks, they notice that cards can contain references to other cards, they notice that they can contain references to source materials - and the discussions I've seen imply they believe that this is the system.
It can't be the system. It's just a tool. The interesting bit, assuming there is one, is how the tool was used and what made it better than other possible tools. Much of that will have been in Luhmann's head. He did write a bit about the system. Presumably he talked about it. There might be other clues in that, though I doubt he was able to describe the intricacies of the relationship between his thinking and writing and the tool he had developed over thirty years. Each card is for a thought, not information - information is external in the sources.

superboyac

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #19 on: October 25, 2019, 01:23 PM »
ah thanks for that very clear explanation Dormouse.

Each card is for a thought, not information - information is external in the sources.
OK that clears a lot up for me.  Interesting.  It's certainly very different than the way i currently approach notetaking now, which is to collect the actual information and store it, like an archivist.
Basically, when I use onenote, im not really using a system or method of any kind.  I am just collecting notes into the interface presented to me by onenote.  It may not even be very "efficient" or terribly productive.  But its there when i need it.

I would, related to zettl, be interested in a method that allowed me to be more effective and stuff, but that's a whole other animal.  I got to psycho therapists and coaches for that, lol!!!

i do use the software FullRecall when i need to memorize things or really learn something deeply.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #20 on: October 25, 2019, 03:47 PM »
It's certainly very different than the way i currently approach notetaking now, which is to collect the actual information and store it, like an archivist.
Basically, when I use onenote, im not really using a system or method of any kind.  I am just collecting notes into the interface presented to me by onenote.  It may not even be very "efficient" or terribly productive.  But its there when i need it.
Collecting information can be important. Is important.
But that's not what the zettel themselves are. Unless I have read it all wrong.

I know it is common now to advise students to listen to lectures and think about what is being said rather than writing down facts. That's always what I did, so it makes sense to me.
I can see why collecting thoughts might work as a productive system. It encourages reflection. Anything that will be written, developed or otherwise used is most like to use thoughts backed by information rather than the reverse. The information is still collected, but its no longer doing the driving.

I can see that his system meant that he collected his thoughts when he was reading in a format that made future thinking and use easier. When he was working things out, he played with his cards, making new ones when he had new thoughts. And when he came to write something up, he just went through the selected cards and wrote them out. Simples.

But that's just my conceptualisation for now. It might be wrong. (Though I think it is a good working system for nearly anything irrespective.)

PS When I collected prints of academic papers in pre-computer (and post tbh) days, I gave them all a number and put them in a box file with a number; still have shelves and shelves of them. I had an index that told me where things were. Not entirely dissimilar and a reaction to available technologies. But no record of my thoughts and no card index: I can see that would have been better had I ever the time to have done it.

Nod5

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #21 on: October 25, 2019, 05:10 PM »
Here are some tools I find very useful for storing and retrieving information in plaintext files. I suppose most are very well known to many DC members reading this thread already, but anyway...

- FindAndRunRobot (FARR)
Program/file launcher with powerful, customizable aliases.
http://www.donationc...er/popular-apps/farr

- Everything
Instantly find any filename/path on any drive that match a search string.
https://www.voidtools.com/

- grepWin
Handy GUI for regex search inside plaintext files.
Fast enough when searching a limited set of folders.
Also does batch find and replace in multiple plaintext files.
https://github.com/stefankueng/grepWin

- ripgrep
Super fast command line regex search inside plaintext files.
Useful for finding a string inside some plaintext note when the string is not in the filename/filepath and you have no clue what folder the file with the string is in.
https://github.com/BurntSushi/ripgrep

- AutoHotkey
For making scripts to superpower FARR aliases and quickly jump/switch between these other tools and text viewers/editors and File Explorer.
https://www.autohotkey.com/

- VS Code or some other general purpose code editor.
For powerful plaintext viewing, editing and formatting. Also for writing Markdown with preview.
The interface is more complex than for some standalone Markdown editors. But on the plus side code editors are power tools for transforming and navigating plaintext in a lot of ways that tend to come in handy sooner or later.
https://code.visualstudio.com/

The above tools work better when you do these things:

1. put tags in the filenames of plaintext files

2. make .txt plaintext "companion files" with tags in filename and notes inside next to non-plaintext files.

3. organize files at least roughly into (sub)folders based on topic, context or life domain. Put tags in foldernames.

4. when needed tag filenames/foldernames with timestamps (YYMMDD at minimum or YYYYMMDDhhmmss) to make them more unique.

You can speed up 1-4 with AutoHotkey, of course :)

The neat thing with unique filenames is that you can use them as "quasi hyperlinks" in plaintext. Like so: An AutoHotkey hotkey takes the current selection in the active VS Code window (or Notepad or any other plaintext editor/viewer you want), uses Everything under the hood to find the one unique matching full filepath, and then acts on it (open/run the file, open its folder in Explorer, ...). For example a file you name "food korean 191025.txt" will likely remain unique and so can be used as a short and quick quasi hyperlink.

The search tools FARR/Everything can also be used as bookmark managers, since URLs can be stored as individual plaintext .url files with tagged filenames.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2019, 05:21 PM by Nod5 »

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #22 on: October 25, 2019, 05:51 PM »
Here are some tools I find very useful for storing and retrieving information in plaintext files. I suppose most are very well known to many DC members reading this thread already, but anyway...
Thanks for these and the methodologies. I'm aware of most of the programs; use Everything and have always been a bit scared of the learning required for AHK. Used FARR once, but mostly prefer using the mouse; maybe I should look at it again.

I don't want to be convinced to use plaintext.  :'( It feels a further bump down the slope from Markdown.  :'( I'm just a humble writer & researcher (among other things admittedly) not a coder.  :'( I do appreciate that I may need to become familiar with some of these programs (or equivalents), but will grumble every step of the way. And will avoid anything I can.

I'll certainly try those grep programs. And I've always known that AHK would be good for me.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2019, 01:53 PM by Dormouse »

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #23 on: October 25, 2019, 05:54 PM »
1. put tags in the filenames of plaintext files
Isn't there a problem with filename tags in that links are broken every time you add or remove a tag?

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #24 on: October 25, 2019, 05:57 PM »
2. make .txt plaintext "companion files" with tags in filename and notes inside next to non-plaintext files.
So, same name as companion except .txt ?

Would this be a way of tagging the companion?

Any specific purpose for the notes?