Recommend books on note-taking methods

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bimlas

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Aug 7, 2020, 2:33:39 AM8/7/20
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Dear all,

I would like to learn more about note-taking methods. I’m interested in Zettelkasten and similar link-based methods primarily because I feel like it works for me. 

Although the book How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking by Sönke Ahrens deals with this topic, based on the comments, it seems to be too voluminous compared to how many usable practices it contains.

Have you read it yet? What do you think about it? Is it worth buying for someone who has already dealt with the topic but wants to deepen their knowledge?

Are there any books that are definitely worth reading if I want to create a really good knowledge base?


David Gifford

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Aug 7, 2020, 7:42:11 AM8/7/20
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Hi bimlas

I highly recommend Ahren's book. There are a lot of books with only a few nuggets of wisdom, hidden in a mass of useless filler. This book is not one of them, it has lots of insights and will get you thinking. I don't think you will be disappointed. Even if you don't use every recommendation of the book, it will at least get you thinking in new ways about notes.

Also make sure to read the thinking at Andy Matuschak's site Evergreen notes. https://notes.andymatuschak.org/Evergreen_notes

Most of what I know comes from the experience of taking notes in various ways with various technologies. Maybe I should write a book on notetaking...

bimlas

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Aug 7, 2020, 8:14:57 AM8/7/20
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David,

Thanks for the answer.

I highly recommend Ahren's book. There are a lot of books with only a few nuggets of wisdom, hidden in a mass of useless filler. This book is not one of them, it has lots of insights and will get you thinking. I don't think you will be disappointed. Even if you don't use every recommendation of the book, it will at least get you thinking in new ways about notes.

Also make sure to read the thinking at Andy Matuschak's site Evergreen notes. https://notes.andymatuschak.org/Evergreen_notes

I know Zettelkasten and Evergreen Notes somewhat, but I’m not sure I’m using them well, so I want to explore the topic even more.

If I understand correctly, the book isn’t just for “beginners,” so based on what I’ve described here, do you think it can show me anything new, for example, how do I make randomly described thoughts part of my permanent notes?
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David Gifford

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Aug 7, 2020, 8:39:41 AM8/7/20
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I know I took more notes on the book than this, but I can't find them (I recognize the irony in that statement).

I am attaching what I found. If you find these notes helpful, you will probably find the entire book helpful.
How to Take Smart Notes, Ahren.pdf

bimlas

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Aug 7, 2020, 8:52:44 AM8/7/20
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David,


I know I took more notes on the book than this, but I can't find them (I recognize the irony in that statement).

:D Familiar situation, that’s why I want to improve my note-taking habits.
 
I am attaching what I found. If you find these notes helpful, you will probably find the entire book helpful.

Thank you very much, it helps a lot in the decision! 

Soren Bjornstad

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Aug 8, 2020, 10:59:10 AM8/8/20
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Funnily enough, I am literally right now (as in, as I tabbed over to the google group to look something up) working on a bibliography on this topic. I'll link up a copy once I have it ready, and will continue to keep it updated as I read/learn more.

Soren Bjornstad

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Aug 8, 2020, 1:52:21 PM8/8/20
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tony

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Aug 8, 2020, 2:03:58 PM8/8/20
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>I would like to learn more about note-taking methods

Having tried many methods, tools and ideas, these impactful guidelines have stood the test of time [1]:
Best,
tony

[1] Boyden, E. S. “How to Think.” Ed Boyden’s Blog. Technology Review. 11/13/07. (http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/boyden/21925/).

TiddlyTweeter

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Aug 10, 2020, 1:04:58 AM8/10/20
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David Gifford wrote:
 Maybe I should write a book on notetaking...

Good idea! Given you worked at getting tools workable for you would be able to provide rich, meaningful examples.

FWIW, TW would be a Good tool to demonstrate different approaches in. Its got the flex to support many approaches. Frankly there is a lack, generally, on-line of clear examples demonstrating comparatively where different approaches come out.

Best wishes
TT

TiddlyTweeter

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Aug 10, 2020, 1:38:14 AM8/10/20
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@bimlas

I agree with David the Ahrens is useful. Also, in your case, the writer has a decent grasp of Zettelkasten, as well as changes some software has made to the original Luhrman approach.

bimlas wrote:

Are there any books that are definitely worth reading if I want to create a really good knowledge base?

An issue with all the literature around software I have read so far is that it tends to focus on technical means too much.
The fact is that use of software in the way you want/need is ultimately based in a cognitive need. 
You know what you want but need work at how to achieve it. 
Using/building tools is a creative act of "meaning making" dependent on task ("function").

So, as far as books go, I'd look a little bit at general works on "meaning making" & "creative process" too. Not for solutions as such; but to aid perspective. Like: Gene Gendlin (e.g. Experiencing & The Creation Of Meaning), Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (e.g. Flow), Edward de Bono (e.g. Serious Creativity), Brewster Ghiselin (editor of The Creative Process). A bit of any of that stuff might help.

Longer term I think that "open tools" like TW, that are ultimately agnostic on link "philosophy", that permit many enabling modes of linking, will clarify what good praxis looks like for specific aims. Hopefully, your & David's approaches could help show some of these more clearly. Folk working FOR a purpose using a tool that helps.

Best wishes
TT

bimlas

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Aug 10, 2020, 10:49:10 AM8/10/20
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Soren,

Thank you so much, this is a useful collection, I have already read some of them.

I am glad that your Zettelkasten is publicly available, because in this way I can see in practice what system others are setting up and how the notes are arranged.

Tony,

Thanks for the link, all related literature I am interested in. If there is any other writing, I would welcome it too.

TiddlyTweeter,

FWIW, TW would be a Good tool to demonstrate different approaches in. Its got the flex to support many approaches. Frankly there is a lack, generally, on-line of clear examples demonstrating comparatively where different approaches come out.

Do you mean tutorials? For example how to implement
  • Evernote, Roam Research, ...
  • Zettelkasten, Evergreen Notes, ...
  • Tag-based song collection
  • Family tree
I like the idea. They could even be separate editions where different plugins would be "advertised". In fact, I think Jeremy is trying to make just such a presentation on Hangouts lately, but instead focusing on different “brand” names he focusing on users of TiddlyWiki.

Having read through your message once again, I think I misunderstood you a bit: if I understand correctly, you specifically want to demonstrate the implementation of note-taking methods (Zettelkasten, Evergreen Notes), right?

So, as far as books go, I'd look a little bit at general works on "meaning making" & "creative process" too. Not for solutions as such; but to aid perspective. Like: Gene Gendlin (e.g. Experiencing & The Creation Of Meaning), Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (e.g. Flow), Edward de Bono (e.g. Serious Creativity), Brewster Ghiselin (editor of The Creative Process). A bit of any of that stuff might help.

There are many new and unknown terms waiting to be discovered. :) Thanks for the kickstart!

Birthe C

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Aug 10, 2020, 7:49:23 PM8/10/20
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Bimlas,

I think the tutorials you mention would be very interesting. People have different needs and thoughts before they put together plugins and the wiki will change with time and experience. Thoughts about how it could be even better and what might be lacking to get the results they wished for. Explaining all that and other material they might have been inspired from. Then the Tutorial how it was put together.
Inspiration is always good - but I have a feeling that there is also some kind of fashion making special NAMES interesting at the same time. Not necessarily because they will turn out to be evergreens in note taking.
Several ways to skin the cat and visualise at the same time.

People are different, know and think different ...work different. I am not sure that even the most perfect of note taking app in theori would suite everyone.

Birthe

TiddlyTweeter

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Aug 11, 2020, 8:21:03 AM8/11/20
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bimlas wrote:

Me: FWIW, TW would be a Good tool to demonstrate different approaches in. Its got the flex to support many approaches. Frankly there is a lack, generally, on-line of clear examples demonstrating comparatively where different approaches come out.

Bimlas: Do you mean tutorials? For example how to implement
  • Evernote, Roam Research, ...
  • Zettelkasten, Evergreen Notes, ...
  • Tag-based song collection
  • Family tree
  if I understand correctly, you specifically want to demonstrate the implementation of note-taking methods (Zettelkasten, Evergreen Notes), right?

Right. Especially the different outcomes of commitment to specific linking strategies (rather than product names). I think that would be invaluable. Not just for TW, but the net in general.
There is a lot of talk ... Roam or whatnot, as if it was new. It IS NOT. Its been gone over many times already. 

What we really need to help users is improve understanding of what the RESULTS look like in different approaches.

That does not need to be in one wiki. For instance your focus on Zettelkasten is a powerful approach---honoring unique originating tiddlers fixed at their creation point---is powerful & productive. Showing How & Why will help that on.

Hope that clarifies what I meant!

Best wishes
TT

bimlas

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Aug 11, 2020, 10:52:04 AM8/11/20
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I apologize for my misunderstanding, but I am afraid that my poor language skills will prevent me from understanding exactly what you are saying.

BTC,

People have different needs and thoughts before they put together plugins and the wiki will change with time and experience. Thoughts about how it could be even better and what might be lacking to get the results they wished for. Explaining all that and other material they might have been inspired from. Then the Tutorial how it was put together.

For example, if there is a plugin that makes it easy to display tag intersections, we should start by showing the reader how to use tags and why it’s important to find tag intersections? So instead of categorizing plugins by function, do we group them by usage?

I think that's a good idea. If we take the TiddlyWiki documentation as an example, the count filter operator and CountWidget could be grouped together because we use it for something similar even though their implementation is different.

Inspiration is always good - but I have a feeling that there is also some kind of fashion making special NAMES interesting at the same time. Not necessarily because they will turn out to be evergreens in note taking.

If I understand correctly, should we start from the common principles (link-based navigation) and mention the main names by the way that these principles can be found in the literature with such a name? So instead of starting to explain Zettelkasten specifically, will we explain the link-based note taking method and in the end mention that this principle is implemented by Zettelkasten, among others?

I am not sure that even the most perfect of note taking app in theori would suite everyone.

This is what I like best about TiddlyWiki, because if my habit changes in the meantime, I don’t have to look for another solution (e.g. Dynalist, Roam Research, Notion) because I can most likely get the job I want on TiddlyWiki, so the software can be tailored to my needs.

TiddlyTweeter,

Especially the different outcomes of commitment to specific linking strategies (rather than product names). I think that would be invaluable. Not just for TW, but the net in general. There is a lot of talk ... Roam or whatnot, as if it was new. It IS NOT. Its been gone over many times already. What we really need to help users is improve understanding of what the RESULTS look like in different approaches.

If I understand correctly, could we show what is the meaning of outline and give example methods for this + could we mention Streams plugin as an implementation?

The problem is that I don’t see much difference between link-based methods: basically, the goal of each is to keep the relevant notes densely linked. These principles can be described, but I cannot imagine a comparative description. Perhaps the individual parts could be compared, e.g. "Spoken Names vs. Unique IDs".

I haven’t read the terms you’ve mentioned before after that, so if I get to know them too, maybe I’ll understand what you’re saying better.

Victor Dorneanu

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Sep 9, 2020, 2:47:23 PM9/9/20
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Hello,

I think this thread is really interesting since I've been looking for the optimal note-taking system for years. Only recently I came across "Zettelkasten" and I've also read Sönke Ahrens book. And I was using GTD (Getting Things Done) for years now without having read the book - also till recently (I really recommend it since it definitely goes beyond what you usually find on the Internet regarding GTD). I think the combination of Zettelkasten + GTD is the perfect one to satisfy lots of needs.

However, I'm struggling to implement and adopt in Tiddlywiki. I also use Tiddlywiki for some years and from time to time I've tried different things:

It didn't last forever since I had problems with dynamically growing lists (like todo lists for projects). Plus: You don't automatically have a backup when the notebook is gone.

This was the main reason why I've switched from VIM to Emacs/Spacemacs after 15 years. I think there are great ORG tools out there and also the available Android app (orgzly) is quite amazing. I still use it but meanwhile only for project planning stuff, calendar and appointments.

... but I always come back to TW coz of its simplicity. And it's really easy to actually publish your content as a single HTML or multiple ones. I mention this because everything I collect is meant to be public (nowadays everybody calls it digital garden). The problem I see with TW is the fact that it still is pain in the a** to actually use it on Android/iOS. If you have a look at orgzly for example you'll recognize it's simplicity and user friendliness.

I tend to take lots of notes using my smartphone. Creating tiddlers and writing content using Tiddloid still feels uncomfortable. That's why I've kind of "established" following workflow to take notes:

1) Whenever I read a book I always have my (paper) notebook and a pen to make notes
2) After finishing the book I digitize my notes using a mind mapping tool (I recommend miMind) since it allows me to create notes (as childs or siblings) very quickly.
3) I export the mind map to OPML
4) I convert the OPML to markdown (using pandoc
5) I import the markdown content to TW
6) I start looking for related content

I know this is might not be suitable for everyone but it works for and that for different reasons:

1) I can create notes very easily and quickly using the mind map tool
2) I can export the content to markdown (or any outline format)
3) I don't spend that much time creating tiddlers and writing the content using Tiddloid

And this is just the note-taking process. As for the content I have following structure:

a) a Zettelkasten like TW containing definitions, ideas from different sources
b) a bibliography TW containing books summaries, quotes, and a collection of interesting (web) articles.

I would very happy to know more about your note-taking process (especially using TW) and how you actually structure your content you have notes for.

Kind regards,
Victor

bimlas

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Sep 19, 2020, 3:02:51 PM9/19/20
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