Zettelkasten-the “slip-box” system for smart note taking and knowledge management

I went down a Zettelkasten rabbit hole at the weekend.

Zettelkasten translates from the German to “slip box”. The Zettelkasten system is a method of note taking that allows you to gain the maximum benefit from your thoughts, the books you read, articles and videos you consume, and so on.

It was invented by a German sociologist who created a system with small physical cards and boxes on which he kept permanent notes/ideas. And the brilliance of the system was that he put a reference number on the card to other related cards in his storage system.

This meant he could easily produce content in the form of books and articles, research papers by pulling out a few of his related cards on a particular topic.

The German man was Niklas Luhmann, a sociologist, and his knowledge management system has come to be known as the Zettelkasten method. Luhman wrote 70 books and 400 academic articles in his prolific career thanks to his knowledge management system which focused on understanding the information he acquired and linking it to existing information he had.

This article by Jessica Arcenas does a tremendous job of explaining the system.

I will come back to this topic again as I intend implementing it in my own life to manage knowledge and ideas I come across in books and elsewhere.

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