Zettelkasten is german for ‘card index’. It’s an organization model that is:
- Interrelational: each note can refer to other notes.
- Atomic (in terms of thought): each note contains one tought or unit of knowledge (vg: a web of references around a topic).
The beauty of the methods is that as long as note IDs are unique, you can refer to them in other notes (a sort of analog hyperlink method that is obviously very convenient when anyone can have a website).
Emerging knowledge structures arise thanks to tags rather than taxonomies, as in other systems of knowledge organization. Structural notes, or meta-notes, can provide hierarchy to otherwise loose notes as well. However, hierarchies can constrain the thought cross-polination: that’s why tags are more useful, because they create networks of notes, or mind maps.