Skip to main content


  1. Posts/


๐Ÿ“ Knowledge ๐Ÿท๏ธ Zettelkasten Organisation Learning
๐Ÿ•™ 12 mins
Vlad | Mentalist | Modeller | Handicapper
Vlad | Mentalist | Modeller | Handicapper
He is an explorer of the structure of subjective experience, seeking a deeper understanding of how people experience the world through their conscious and subconscious minds. He studies the inner worlds of thoughts, feelings, and sensations that shape our perceptions, behaviors, and choices.
Table of Contents
Instruction - This article is part of a series.
Part : This Article

Image credit: Angelo Giordano

“The Zettelkasten is a way of life. It is a way of thinking, learning, and creating that can help you to live a more fulfilling and productive life.” Niklas Luhmann


Zettelkasten or Second Brain is a system of interconnected knowledge that can be used for personal knowledge management, lifelong learning, and creative thinking. It is a way of taking notes, organizing your thoughts, and making connections between ideas. The Zettelkasten method consists of creating individual notes that are linked together by keywords and concepts. These notes can be linked to each other in a variety of ways, which allows you to explore the connections between your ideas and see new patterns.


Zettelkasten is a note-taking and knowledge management system developed by German sociologist Niklas Luhmann. It’s designed to facilitate the organization, connection, and retrieval of information. Here’s a general guide on how to use Zettelkasten:

  1. Capture ideas: Whenever you come across new information or have an idea, write it down as a “note” or “zettel.” Each note should focus on a single concept or idea.

  2. Use atomicity: Keep each note concise and self-contained. This helps create modular and interconnected notes.

  3. Create unique identifiers: Assign a unique identifier to each note. It could be a number or alphanumeric code. This identifier will allow you to reference and link related notes.

  4. Make connections: As you create new notes, link them to existing relevant notes. Use the unique identifiers to establish relationships between different concepts or ideas.

  5. Develop a tagging system: Implement a system of tags or keywords to categorize your notes. These tags will aid in organizing and retrieving information based on specific topics or themes.

  6. Link backward and forward: When creating a new note, refer back to related notes by linking to them. Similarly, update older notes with links to newly created notes. This bidirectional linking strengthens the network of connections within your Zettelkasten.

  7. Review and revise: Regularly review and revise your notes to ensure accuracy, update information, or refine connections. Over time, your Zettelkasten will evolve and become more comprehensive.

  8. Retrieve information: When you need to access specific information, use your tags and interlinked structure to navigate through your Zettelkasten. Follow the links and explore related concepts to gain a deeper understanding.

Remember, Zettelkasten is a flexible system, and you can adapt it to suit your needs. The key is to capture, connect, and organize information in a way that enhances your understanding and enables efficient knowledge retrieval.

๐Ÿ› ๏ธ TOOLS

Zettelkasten tools are software applications or platforms designed to facilitate the implementation and management of a Zettelkasten system. A Zettelkasten is a knowledge management method developed by Niklas Luhmann, a German sociologist, which involves organizing and connecting notes to create a network of knowledge.

Zettelkasten tools typically offer features and functionalities that support the principles of a Zettelkasten system, such as:

  1. Note creation and organization: These tools allow users to create individual notes or “Zettels” easily. Notes can be organized into categories, tags, or folders to aid in retrieval and navigation.

  2. Interlinking and backlinking: Zettelkasten tools enable users to create links between related notes, facilitating the formation of a web-like network of knowledge. Backlinks, or bidirectional links, make it easy to navigate between interconnected notes.

  3. Search and retrieval: Advanced search capabilities help users quickly find specific notes or relevant information within their Zettelkasten. Full-text search, tag-based filtering, and other search options enhance the accessibility of stored knowledge.

  4. Metadata and organization systems: Zettelkasten tools often provide options for adding metadata to notes, such as creation date, modification date, and keywords. Some tools also support various organization systems, including hierarchical structures, graph visualizations, or custom arrangements.

  5. Cross-platform synchronization: Many Zettelkasten tools offer synchronization across multiple devices and platforms, ensuring that your notes are accessible and up-to-date wherever you work.

  6. Markdown support: Markdown is a lightweight markup language commonly used for writing and formatting notes. Zettelkasten tools often support Markdown syntax, allowing users to add headers, bullet points, images, and other formatting elements to their notes.

  7. Export and import functionality: To prevent vendor lock-in and ensure data portability, Zettelkasten tools typically allow importing and exporting notes in various formats, such as plain text, Markdown, or common file types like PDF.


  • Obsidian: A powerful note-taking and knowledge management tool that supports bidirectional linking, backlinks, and extensive customization options.
  • Logseq: A web-based note-taking tool with a focus on bidirectional linking, allowing users to create a network of interconnected thoughts and ideas.
  • Zettlr: A cross-platform Markdown editor designed for creating and managing Zettelkasten-style notes, with features like interlinking, backlinks, and inline tags.
  • VS Code with Dendron or Foam extension
  • Hugo or Second Brain can be used online in public, private repository or offline
  • There are many more.

These tools aim to enhance productivity, creativity, and the ability to connect ideas, making them popular choices among researchers, writers, and anyone interested in effective knowledge management.


  1. Start with Atomicity: The essence of Zettelkasten lies in breaking down complex ideas into atomic units. Each note should represent a single concept, idea, or piece of information. This allows for easier organization and retrieval when interlinking your notes later on.

  2. Create Meaningful Titles: Give each note a clear, concise, and meaningful title. A well-crafted title not only helps you understand the content of the note at a glance but also aids in establishing connections between related notes. Consider using descriptive keywords to enhance searchability. Many people search their memories by dates, people or places. Use what it’s best for you

  3. Include Metadata: Alongside the title, include metadata such as creation date, source, author, and tags within each note. These details provide context and help in organizing and searching through your Zettelkasten. Consistent metadata conventions will streamline your workflow and make your note collection more accessible.

  4. Use your Own Words: When crafting Zettelkasten notes, strive to explain concepts and ideas in your own words. This process forces you to engage deeply with the material and enhances your understanding. Avoid copying verbatim from sources unless it is a direct quote. Be concise yet precise in your explanations.

  5. Embrace Interlinking: One of the defining features of Zettelkasten is the network of interconnected notes. Link related notes by creating hyperlinks or references within each note. This cross-referencing facilitates the discovery of new insights, strengthens the relationships between ideas, and helps you navigate your knowledge repository efficiently.

  6. Include Contextual References: When referencing external sources, include enough contextual information to understand the relevance and significance of the source. Provide summaries or key takeaways from the source material within your note. This practice not only saves time when revisiting a note but also makes it independent of the original source.

  7. Review and Revise: Regularly review and revise your Zettelkasten notes to ensure accuracy, clarity, and coherence. As you gain new insights and make connections between ideas, update your existing notes accordingly. Embrace the iterative nature of the process and allow your Zettelkasten to grow and evolve over time.

  8. Leverage Digital Tools: While Zettelkasten can be implemented using physical index cards, digital tools offer numerous advantages in terms of searchability, scalability, and accessibility. There are various software options available, such as Roam Research, Obsidian, Logseq, Hugo Second brain, that provide features specifically designed for Zettelkasten-style note-taking.



As technology advances at an unprecedented pace, the fields of artificial intelligence (AI) and human-computer interaction continue to evolve. Two prominent approaches in this domain are Zettelkasten methodology and the development of powerful AI models such as GPT-4, BARD, and LAMA. While both techniques aim to enhance knowledge management and information retrieval, they differ significantly in their underlying principles and applications. In this post, we will delve into the intricacies of Zettelkasten and these advanced AI models, exploring their strengths, limitations, and potential intersections.


Zettelkasten, a German term meaning “slip-box,” is a centuries-old method for organizing knowledge in a physical format. It involves creating and linking individual notes or “zettels” that capture ideas, concepts, and connections between them. By storing and interlinking these zettels, users can establish a network of knowledge that facilitates exploration and discovery. Zettelkasten embodies the principles of non-linear thinking and encourages active engagement with information, promoting creativity and ideation.

Strengths of Zettelkasten:

  1. Active learning: Zettelkasten encourages users to actively engage with information by connecting and synthesizing ideas, fostering deeper understanding.
  2. Serendipity: The serendipitous nature of physically navigating through interconnected zettels often leads to unexpected insights and novel connections.
  3. Contextualization: By capturing the context behind each note, Zettelkasten allows users to comprehend the rationale and thought processes that led to specific ideas.

Limitations of Zettelkasten:

  1. Manual effort: Creating and maintaining a Zettelkasten system requires significant time and effort, especially when dealing with a large volume of information.
  2. Limited scalability: The physical nature of Zettelkasten makes it challenging to scale up the system for extensive collections or collaborative use.
  3. Information retrieval: While Zettelkasten promotes exploration, finding specific pieces of information within the network can be cumbersome and time-consuming.


On the other end of the spectrum, recent advancements in AI have led to the development of powerful language models such as GPT-4 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer), BARD (Base Attentive Reader for Documents), and LAMA (Language Model for Text Editing). These models leverage machine learning algorithms and vast amounts of data to generate human-like text, answer questions, and assist in various knowledge-intensive tasks.

Strengths of AI Models:

  1. Speed and efficiency: AI models can quickly process and analyze massive volumes of data, enabling rapid information retrieval and synthesis.
  2. Natural language processing: They excel at understanding and generating human language, allowing seamless interaction between users and the AI system.
  3. Continuous learning: AI models can be trained on new data, meaning they can stay up-to-date with the latest knowledge and developments in real-time.

Limitations of AI Models:

  1. Lack of context: While AI models excel at mimicking human language, they often lack deep comprehension and contextual understanding, leading to potential inaccuracies or misinterpretations.
  2. Ethical considerations: AI models must be carefully designed and monitored to address issues like bias, fairness, and privacy concerns.
  3. Dependency on data quality: The performance of AI models heavily relies on the quality and representativeness of the training data, which can introduce biases if not appropriately addressed.


While Zettelkasten and AI models operate on different principles, there is potential for their intersection in knowledge management and information retrieval. By combining the active learning and contextualization of Zettelkasten with the speed and efficiency of AI models, users can benefit from a hybrid approach that maximizes creativity, ideation, and information accessibility.

Possible Synergies:

  1. AI-assisted Zettelkasten: Integrating AI models within Zettelkasten systems can enhance information retrieval, automatic link suggestions, and context-aware note generation.
  2. Contextual understanding: AI models could be trained to better understand the context and interconnections between zettels, aiding in more intelligent search and knowledge exploration.


  • Why did the Zettelkasten system get lost? It had too many backlinks.
  • What do you call a Zettelkasten system that’s always on the go? A mobile kasten.
  • What’s the best way to organize a Zettelkasten system? With a lot of patience and a lot of time.
  • What’s the difference between a Zettelkasten system and a pile of papers? The Zettelkasten system is organized.
  • What do you call a Zettelkasten system that’s always getting bigger? A growing kasten.
  • What do you call a Zettelkasten system that’s full of interconnected ideas? A mind map.
  • What do you call a Zettelkasten system that’s been around for a long time? A seasoned kasten.
  • What do you call a Zettelkasten system that’s been used by a lot of people? A communal kasten.
  • What do you call a Zettelkasten system that’s been used to solve a lot of problems? A problem-solving kasten.


  • A Zettelkasten is like a garden of ideas, where you can plant seeds, water them, and watch them grow.
  • A Zettelkasten is like a mind map, where you can visualize the connections between your ideas.
  • A Zettelkasten is like a filing cabinet, where you can store your notes and ideas in a organized way.
  • A Zettelkasten is like a puzzle, where you can piece together your thoughts to create new insights.
  • A Zettelkasten is like a fractal, where each note contains smaller notes, which contain even smaller notes, and so on.
  • A Zettelkasten is like a labyrinth, where you can wander through your thoughts and ideas, exploring new paths and connections.
  • A Zettelkasten is like a river, where your thoughts flow freely, connecting with each other in unexpected ways.
  • A Zettelkasten is like a fire, where your ideas can be ignited and transformed into something new.
  • A Zettelkasten is like a sourdough starter, where your thoughts can be cultivated and grow over time.
  • A Zettelkasten is like a bonsai tree, where you can carefully prune and shape your thoughts to create something beautiful.
  • A Zettelkasten is like a jazz improvisation, where you can take your notes and ideas and play with them in new and unexpected ways.
  • A Zettelkasten is like a work of art, where you can express your thoughts and ideas in a creative and meaningful way.
  • A Zettelkasten is like a journey, where you can explore your thoughts and ideas and discover new things about yourself.


@article Zettelkasten Introduction from @article The Zettelkasten Method @book Sรถnke, Ahrens. (2022). How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking. @video Organize Your Knowledge with Zettelkasten

Our most important and difficult job is not to find the right answers but to find the right questions, for โ€œthere are few things as useless, if not dangerous, as the right answer to the wrong question.โ€ Peter Drucker


Mastering the art of writing Zettelkasten notes requires discipline, consistency, and a willingness to engage deeply with your ideas. By breaking down complex concepts, creating meaningful interconnections, and leveraging digital tools, you can create a personal knowledge repository that fosters creativity, enhances learning, and empowers you to generate new insights. Start small, embrace the process, and watch your Zettelkasten bloom into a powerful tool for idea generation and knowledge management. Happy note-taking!

๐Ÿ“ Knowledge ๐Ÿท๏ธ Zettelkasten Organisation Learning

Instruction - This article is part of a series.
Part : This Article


๐Ÿ•™ 4 mins
๐Ÿ•™ 10 mins
๐Ÿ•™ 8 mins