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Last post Author Topic: I'm thinking of going primitive, with discursion into zettelkasten  (Read 8206 times)

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #25 on: October 25, 2019, 06:02 PM »

3. organize files at least roughly into (sub)folders based on topic, context or life domain. Put tags in foldernames.
I'm not likely to do this. I want to keep folder structures as simple as possible.
Doing this would slow down the active work. I'm hoping that Searching will remove the need.
I would expect to use temporary project folders and will copy useful files into those. Then delete them once it's complete.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #26 on: October 25, 2019, 06:04 PM »
4. when needed tag filenames/foldernames with timestamps (YYMMDD at minimum or YYYYMMDDhhmmss) to make them more unique.
Yes, I intend to do this.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #27 on: October 25, 2019, 06:08 PM »
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.
I assume this would actually work with rtf or even docx files too?

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #28 on: October 25, 2019, 06:11 PM »
You can speed up 1-4 with AutoHotkey, of course :)
okay, I accept the case for AHK is overwhelming  :(

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #29 on: October 25, 2019, 06:20 PM »
- 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/

Like so: An AutoHotkey hotkey takes the current selection in the active VS Code window
I'm afraid that I'm likely to resist using VS Code or any other code editor as much as I possibly can. The look and feel (and features) of the programs I write in is critical to creativity and productivity  (and I have to be able to set them up to avoid eye strain). I like Atlantis. I quite like Jarte. I like WriteMonkey 3 (although it has occasionally hogged resources).

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #30 on: October 25, 2019, 06:39 PM »
Initial system plan (file based & text, not necessarily zettelkasten).

Two top level folders – General and Local. Identically named subfolders.
General to be available to other devices through Dropbox or equivalent. Local not.

Next level:
Thoughts (as in zettel, because I can see that it’s a good idea)
Sources  (including facts I record or material I devise myself)
Writing (any output using material in the first two). To include an In Progress folder (I’d intend to use this to temporarily copy files I’m using, and anything used to help organizse my thoughts.
Temp (for new documents that may still need tagging/renaming/allocating).

Until I read more, I won’t know what type of linking I believe to be important in zettelkasten, should I go in that direction.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #31 on: October 25, 2019, 06:44 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 am really very grateful for the list and explanations of best usage. It's the details of the best programs and usage tips that I have no idea about at all.

Nod5

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #32 on: October 25, 2019, 06:46 PM »
Isn't there a problem with filename tags in that links are broken every time you add or remove a tag?

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?

Yeah, there is a trade-off between updating filename tags to reflect changes to file contents and risking breaking links/references elsewhere to that file.

I have no perfect fits-all-cases solution to that.

But here's an approach that works ok for me in many cases. Say we want to keep a photo of something or a screenshot of a webpage. First name the imagefile short but unique through timestamps. The camera likely does this by default and screenshots tools can be set to do that too. Keep that image filename unchanged going forward. Second, make a companion .txt file with additional tags in the filename, tags that can be updated over time.

C:\folder\20191022_181212.png
C:\folder\20191022_181212.png receipt raspberry pi 4.txt

We can then in other plaintext files reliably "quasi link" to the image with the short string 20191022_181212.png .

We can also find the image via Everything fairly quickly in any folder on any harddrive using only the search terms "raspberry receipt", since the .txt file will be among the matches for that search and its filename in turn contains the image filename. That search will work even if we later also add the tags "todo sell ebay" to the companion .txt

.txt companion files can also be created for other purposes, not just for tags that make the "parent" file easy to find with filename search tools. For example if we stick to a format for some companion files, like
C:\folder\20191022_181212.png -- slideshow.txt
for photos then we can make scripts that automatically use the image and that special companion file for some purpose, for example to show an image slideshow overlayed with notes (text in the image's companion).

This idea is a bit like how external .srt subtitle files for video files work in VLC. Place the files video.mp4 and video.mp4.srt next to each other and VLC will automatically load the .srt subtitle when playing the .mp4 video.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2019, 07:13 PM by Nod5 »

Nod5

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #33 on: October 25, 2019, 06:56 PM »
All this said, the tools and approach I sketched above might not be for everybody. I suspect it is more appealing to someone who already uses code editors and writes scripts a lot anyway. But no harm in giving it a look, you might find some part of it that is a fit for you.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #34 on: October 25, 2019, 06:56 PM »
Thanks.
Lots of food for thought there.
I've no idea at this point about how much I will use tagging, and in what circumstances. The important thing, if I do, is a quick and easy workflow.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #35 on: October 25, 2019, 07:22 PM »
I suspect it is more appealing to someone who already uses code editors and writes scripts a lot anyway. But no harm in giving it a look, you might find some part of it that is a fit for you.
I'll certainly look them all out. These are solutions, and I will need solutions. I think tagging is a tough one. I'm sure I can manage the greps, and I'm not sure there's an alternative approach. And it's about time I had a closer look at AHK. The quasi hyperlink is a solution to a problem I was aware would need to be tackled.

For me it's all about workflow. My understanding of the zettelkasten process produces high easy output that will allow me to keep my eye on the ball all the time (and should be effective whether it is really zettelkasten or not). That will mean quickly producing and saving new documents. I think everything else can be done later as a batch process, but, if not, it has to be something I can do without thought because otherwise the workflow gain has gone.

Once I have lots of them (and there will be lots because each will be relatively small), search will be important. I have no idea how that will go. I'll probably want the search program to show me what's in the file, so I can decide if I want it without having to open it. And I'll still need speed.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #36 on: October 26, 2019, 04:47 PM »
Isn't there a problem with filename tags in that links are broken every time you add or remove a tag?
We can then in other plaintext files reliably "quasi link" to the image with the short string 20191022_181212.png .
Having thought on it, I think that the ability to fast search for the unique string within the name obviates both the need for direct linking and having the tags outside the name. I hadn't thought of that.

TaoPhoenix

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #37 on: October 26, 2019, 06:23 PM »
Complex topic!

I'm rather tired, but here are a few early ideas to play with, because I've been low-level for much of my life, and as my health broke down too much to work for quite a while, I spend my good days doing my own unfocused private research on topics that interest me - some enduring, some Weekly Specials.

I've also fiddled with text processing, with partial tools, though never with any reliability requirements.

Glancing at this "Big German Word" ...

- It seems your mind needs some level of innate talent to make it work, or it could collapse entirely! I don't think you can both be "surprised at what's in your notes" and at the same time have a comprehensive command of the material.

- Tags: I think I put mine right into the file names, so the tags travel along. I think I've grokked the thread we don't like native Windows search. But something I've done in the past was use file directory readers, and then crank the output text file into something else for a refined search. No scripting needed. If you think you've changed more than a trivial bunch files, both new and revised, just re-run the directory. "Can't find the file" - that will guarantee it's FOUND, it just may have a name you weren't expecting if you don't have that talent for consistency!

- More fun things to do with file reader output : if you put a special character (not above the number key but like zz), after the "regular" part of the file name and before all your tag-y things, then you can import that directory output into Excel, and chop it up into sections and then your notes can reference the fragment of the file name.

- In reverse, if you want to share stuff on the web, and you added new tags to your file names, because now it references Cher Banb Bang for "I was Five" and Harlan Ellison's story Jefty is Five, re-run the directory reader, then (I did one in Excel) it concatenates back the cels, slaps some shell code on either side to make it a legible web page, and off you go, and your text files drove the outbound web copy.

- False Negatives: If you think your Tags are 4 leaf clovers, they might obscure some nice creativity because only so many tags can be sanely added to something. The more complex the partial thought is, it might slip away in tags. So if I got to daydreaming, "hey, what was that book about the MMA fighter, where his raw identity was based on that area code, I forget which one, it's in that midwest somewhere"... how do you tag that? At the time you might have tagged fighter, boy, and a couple other things, and it's competing wiht JAckie Chan movies and Mortal Kombat.

So maybe You just write periodic summaries of what you were up to, and then you might get clever recalling what phase of your life it was in. There's a risk, it seems to me, of system decay.

- DonationCoder! That's us! If you find you need some really strange processing of text files, it might NOT exist! So commission it! In the days before certain modern computing chess trends, and even now it's a hobby so I'm old school, I had a problem. In chess, the "text" version of the moves is called a PGN, which is a straight text file, just with headers in brackets in known sequence for the computers to know who played and when. But those headers were a pain, taking up half the page, and some sources had certain hardcoded line breaks and stuff. And I wanted very basic filtering so if I am looking at Tal's games, no games under say 15 moves (tended to be last rounds etc), and no draws. I didn't want a huge database program - same situation as you. (Chessbase used to be the gold standard.) I just wanted to take my little text file I produced in ten minutes to a restaurant.

So I commissioned it elsewhere, (got Mouser's approval it's not for resale and I own the end to end work for hire rights etc) and it's here.

NANY 2012 Release: Chess PGN File Processor
http://www.donationc....msg272545#msg272545

(I think there's 1 file that needs to be accounted for on some systems, but I got it back working a few months ago).

So instead of complex scripting, let's say the academic world has these quirks to its materials, they're not conceptually hard, but annoying, maybe get a Coding Snack!
So someone was talking about parallel files, the snack scans the material, reverse sorts by noun and like my program truncates somewhere, then cranks out a parallel "super tags" file, so if you're trying to remember that program with the miners you spent a week analyzing, and remembered the dev changed DBA names, you crank the utility, it skips over Twitch presenter David Miner, and comes up with Ludum Dare Undermined.

So I hope some of that helps!

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #38 on: October 27, 2019, 05:45 AM »
Thanks.

Glancing at this "Big German Word" ...

- It seems your mind needs some level of innate talent to make it work, or it could collapse entirely! I don't think you can both be "surprised at what's in your notes" and at the same time have a comprehensive command of the material.
Absence of command seems to be a requirement of the system with the aim of achieving serendipity.
And if you made a note 15 years ago, on an apparently different topic, you might easily have forgotten it.

- More fun things to do with file reader output : if you put a special character (not above the number key but like zz), after the "regular" part of the file name and before all your tag-y things, then you can import that directory output into Excel, and chop it up into sections and then your notes can reference the fragment of the file name.

- In reverse, if you want to share stuff on the web, and you added new tags to your file names, because now it references Cher Banb Bang for "I was Five" and Harlan Ellison's story Jefty is Five, re-run the directory reader, then (I did one in Excel) it concatenates back the cels, slaps some shell code on either side to make it a legible web page, and off you go, and your text files drove the outbound web copy.

Interesting idea

maybe You just write periodic summaries of what you were up to, and then you might get clever recalling what phase of your life it was in. There's a risk, it seems to me, of system decay.

I'm expecting that writing new notes that contain reflections on the current ideas will be part of the system

- DonationCoder! That's us! If you find you need some really strange processing of text files, it might NOT exist! So commission it!
And that is a good idea!

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #39 on: October 27, 2019, 05:58 AM »
What I've so far established is that the the short note system works very well (ie fast and easy). Adding the date&time (down to seconds) is also quick and easy - so that's the unique name need dealt with.

No idea about anything after that yet, but I know I will stick to the initial note bit.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #40 on: October 27, 2019, 06:14 AM »
wrt the x..n system. I'm reading the Ahrens book at the moment (How to Take Smart Notes); one place ought to be easier than a myriad of webpages. Very concentrated on academic research and writing papers or books. I can understand that - it's what Luhmann did and it's the motivation for a lot of people interested in the system. But Luhmann went into an office and did his academic stuff - I do many things (and quite a lot of quick switching) and I can't see why the system would not work for anything that requires thinking. Creative writing, building a garage, organising holidays. One input system is so much easier than working out where everything should go.

I'll use the system as I read. I've already learned that I need to develop kindle skills and techniques.

kfitting

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #41 on: October 27, 2019, 12:27 PM »
Interesting discussion... I've responded about zettelkasten in IanB's discussion on OneNote, but here are a couple of thoughts from loosely following this thread:

Having loosely followed the zettelkasten idea for a few years, I believe you're correct in noting that's a little more process oriented than tool-oriented.

Back a few posts there was some discussion about ideas vs facts. Don't know if you've read the post on the Collector's Fallacy: https://zettelkasten.../collectors-fallacy/  I find this very true and something I fight against continually. It is so important to collect why the fact was interesting.... and try to relate it to other things. A jumble of other people's text bits is meaningless to me. A file system of my own thoughts continues to show it's power, again and again.

I've "started" a zettel several times now, with tree-based information managers, with markdown textfiles, and now with Dokuwiki. My biggest piece of advice: just start capturing information, attempting to always write why you found the information important. Eventually, YOUR OWN system will come into being and things will flow more smoothly.

Random thoughts, I know, but hopefully something will prove stimulating!



Aside: the tagging discussion (and this entire discussion in general) reminds me of a debate about tags vs links. Here is a critique of tags:

"Tags are vague. They’re a very primitive way of spelling out how things relate to each other. A tag on a news article says “this article has something to do with this concept or thing”. But what exactly? A tag doesn’t tell you whether an article is a critique of a person, an interview with a person or whether it just mentions that person in passing. A tag doesn’t even tell you if the reference to Samuel Adams is about the person or about the kind of beer (which is why we so desperately need vocabularies). A tag can’t tell the difference between an event that merely took place at the local café and an event that the aforementioned pub actually organized." http://debrouwere.or...07/tags-dont-cut-it/

Instead, use meaningful relationships (links with explanations). Some like to call it "tight" vs "loose" linking (http://takingnotenow...sus-tight-links.html). With a zettel, you're trying to link things tightly, not just throw things into your garage randomly.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #42 on: October 27, 2019, 01:00 PM »
Back a few posts there was some discussion about ideas vs facts. Don't know if you've read the post on the Collector's Fallacy: https://zettelkasten.../collectors-fallacy/  I find this very true and something I fight against continually.

I hadn't. I agree with the comment about collecting books and papers, but believe that the premise of the post is fundamentally misconceived. There's too much focus on facts.

Taking notes thoroughly means you can rely on your notes alone and rarely need to look up a detail in the original text.
I rarely consult secondary sources again. If I have to do so, it means that I did not do the job right the first time.
–MK, of “Taking Note Now”

The problem here is the idea that there is a virtue to extracting information from a source and storing that information as a note. There may be a gain if it becomes more accessible, but it's a lot of effort simply to copy facts that are possessed already.

If we read without taking notes, our knowledge increases for a short time only. Once we forget what we knew, having read the text becomes worthless. You can bet that you’ll forget about the text’s information one day. It’s guaranteed. Thus, reading without taking notes is just a waste of time in the long run. It’s as if reading never happened.

This is also wrong. It assumes that the only value is in transferring facts to the brain or keeping them close in an accessible form. That's part of the way that computers work, but it's not the way the human mind works. If we read something that has a meaning to us on some level, we may or may not be able to recall the facts involved in the future. But we don't simply store facts. We have models about the way the world works. Some may be precise and others very fuzzy. We may know what our models are but more likely we don't. When we read something, whether we remember the details of any facts or not, that reading will have produced a shift in the network of probabilities in the relevant model. Even if it is only to strengthen some of them.

It is so important to collect why the fact was interesting.... and try to relate it to other things. A jumble of other people's text bits is meaningless to me. A file system of my own thoughts continues to show it's power, again and again.

Exactly. And if we do that, me may or may not need to transcribe the facts. A link should usually be sufficient.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #43 on: October 27, 2019, 01:50 PM »
Instead, use meaningful relationships (links with explanations). Some like to call it "tight" vs "loose" linking (http://takingnotenow...sus-tight-links.html). With a zettel, you're trying to link things tightly, not just throw things into your garage randomly.

I read the posts, but I'm not convinced. Some things clearly have direct links. But other links ought to be looser or even tentative. I haven't read enough about zettel to know how it ought to work - but tight links won't lead to serendipitous discoveries. And in some ways I don't care. I will do the reading to see if there's anything more there that's useful and, if not, I'll work out what's useful myself. And I will use tags very flexibly if I use them: some may indicate individuals with a common background, some may be because I think I might at some point write a piece on X or Y.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #44 on: October 27, 2019, 01:59 PM »
Interesting discussion... I've responded about zettelkasten in IanB's discussion on OneNote,

I'll check them out. Though it is a very long discussion.

Random thoughts, I know, but hopefully something will prove stimulating!

Certainly stimulating. Every contribution like this helps shape my ideas. And random is good!

I've "started" a zettel several times now, with tree-based information managers, with markdown textfiles, and now with Dokuwiki.

So what made you stop? And then restart?

jeromg

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #45 on: October 28, 2019, 07:43 AM »
I am one of those who switched completely to full text only after trying a whole lot of options (OneNote, Evernote, ConnectedText, Orgmode to name just a few). I am now using Vim (together with the great Vimwiki plugin) and keeping all my notes as plain markdown files (under a git repo to keep track of changes). To ensure ubiquitous access, all my notes are also synced to my Nextcloud server and accessible on my Android phone using the Markor app.

There's no way I would go back from here (even though my old CRIMPing habits sometimes itch again).

wraith808

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #46 on: October 28, 2019, 11:39 AM »
The only reason that I use anything other than just plain text is scraping web sources.  I've been thinking about doing something to extract plain text from web pages (sort of like the simplified version of the Evernote clipping extension)

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #47 on: October 28, 2019, 01:11 PM »
For virtually all purposes I much prefer rtf to plain text.

Colours, fonts, tables, bullets etc all make a difference to my speed of apprehension. I will switch colour, or background colour, as part of my editing. It makes rtf much more practical for me than plain text. The ability to insert images is very helpful too.

Nod5

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #48 on: October 28, 2019, 01:25 PM »
- More fun things to do with file reader output : if you put a special character (not above the number key but like zz), after the "regular" part of the file name and before all your tag-y things, then you can import that directory output into Excel, and chop it up into sections and then your notes can reference the fragment of the file name.

The idea of using special characters to distinguish the tag section and individuate tags in filenames is used by the TagSpaces application, https://docs.tagspac...g-based-on-filenames . I remember trying it very long ago but might go and have another look at it now, as it seems to be actively developed.

Dormouse

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Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« Reply #49 on: October 28, 2019, 02:22 PM »
- More fun things to do with file reader output : if you put a special character (not above the number key but like zz), after the "regular" part of the file name and before all your tag-y things, then you can import that directory output into Excel, and chop it up into sections and then your notes can reference the fragment of the file name.

The idea of using special characters to distinguish the tag section and individuate tags in filenames is used by the TagSpaces application

That's interesting. I'm trialling it now (SetTags also). I uninstalled it when I had problems working out how to access the file system (it's not the most intuitive approach, at least for me) but reinstalled after looking at the manual.  :-[