How Luhmann's slip-box worked - Deepstash

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How To Take Smart Notes: 10 Principles to Revolutionize Your Note-Taking and Writing

How Luhmann's slip-box worked

  • He wrote down any interesting or potentially useful ideas on uniformly sized index cards on one side only.
  • Each new index card got a sequential number, starting at 1.
  • When a new source was added to that topic or something to supplement it, he would add new index cards with letters added to the number (1a, 1b, 1c, etc.)
  • These branching connections were marked in red as close as possible, where the branch began.
  • Any of these branches could also have their own branches. (For example 21/3d26g53)
  • As he read, he would create new cards, update or add comments to existing ones, create new branches from existing cards, or create new links between cards.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Note-taking: a powerful tool for learning
  • Notes extend your memories: writing can be seen as an external enhancement of your brain, allowing you to think more complicated thoughts and solve harder problems.
  • Notes enhance your focus: The act of taking notes ensures your mind isn’t wandering and facilitates deeper understanding of what you're reading.
Figure out your purpose

Ask yourself why are you reading:

  • What am I trying to remember? 
  • How am I going to use this information? (e.g. on a test, cited in an essay, etc.)
  • What do I plan to do with the notes later? Will you be studying off of them extensively? Or maybe you’re just taking notes to stay focused, and it’s highly unlikely you’ll look through them after?
Strategies for note-taking
  • Jot notes in the margin. These aren’t particularly searchable, but they allow you to reiterate the main idea.
  • Keep a small notepad on the side, take breaks each section to jot down the main ideas. 
  • Create flashcards. In the rarer situations where memorization of details is important, then a simple strategy can be to just create flashcards while you take notes. 
The Zettelkasten System Of Productivity

The Zettelkasten way or the ‘slip box’ method was pioneered by Niklas Luhmann, is an always-on, filing system that one can use to categorize and ‘slip’ any new insight or idea in a separate file or cabinet.

With this method, any new idea or insight now has a readymade home where it can be placed easily, with the growing collection facilitating new projects and cross-connections.

Zettelkasten: An Indexing System For Ideas
  • The way to collect ideas using the Zettelkasten Method is to use a branching card system, where numbers and letters are used to ‘address’ or pinpoint the sequence as well as the branching hierarchy of an idea.
  • A card address can be 1/1, or ½, or 1/2a based on the idea and connecting ideas it has.
  • Another method is to add references at the bottom of the cards, jotting down the addresses of ‘related’ ideas, making cross-referencing easier.
  • This method is similar to hypertext and URLs of the digital age, though in a completely analogue form.
Zettelkasten Method In The Digital Age

Many note-taking apps can mimic the functionality of the Zettelkasten system but have certain limitations like few backup options, and loss of insight links in case of a shutdown of the app. Others offer pristine functionality of the idea filing and linking system but have the same proprietary and database concerns.
The best way is to go manual and build a word file using hypertext links, notes and references.

One can try a mix and match approach, making sure that one is able to:

  1. quickly start a new idea or note.
  2. quickly link two or more notes.
  3. able to retrieve a note easily.
  4. is synced and is usable in multiple devices.