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Zettelkasten is a method of taking atomic notes and building a ‘second brain’. The word comes from the German zettel, for note, and kasten, for box. The system was designed by [[Niklas Luhmann]] who was able to write more than 70 books and who had nearly 400 scholarly articles published on a variety of subjects, including law, economy, politics, art, religion, ecology, mass media, and love.

The idea was to write down all his atomic ideas and references on small cards. He then used unique identifiers on each card to create linking between the ideas and references.

The Zettelkasten System⚓︎

Niklas had three types of notes. Fleeting Notes, Literature Notes, and Permanent Notes. He then had two types of boxes that contained all Literature and Permanent notes. The Reference box contained all literature notes categorized with a unique ID, and an Ideas box which had all the permanent notes. The Fleeting notes were not kept in the boxes, but would be reviewed every once in a while to see if they needed to be converted to Reference and Permanent Notes.

The Goal⚓︎

The goal is to create permanent notes for every idea you see fit. To accomplish this you review your fleeting notes, research those which you wish to convert by creating literature notes, and finally converting each idea in to a permanent note.

1) Atomic and interconnected notes with individual ideas 2) Write the permanent notes in your own words, don’t copy content from the source. This is a place for your own ideas, thoughts, and expression, so you can make sure you have an understanding of each individual idea. 3) Omit the obvious, write a permanent note for everything else. These aren’t notes for someone else, these are notes on the ideas you want to document. 4) Take notes on things you are passionate about, or things that intrigue you.

[!warning] You don’t want a Zettelkasten to become a ‘traditional’ notebook. Atomic notes with interlinking is key to the system. It is a collection of linked ideas that you at one time had interest in.