I am enamoured with the idea of the zettelkasten, and when I started again trying to pursue university I made a very impulsive decision to set one up. It helped some things, for sure: I would not have been able to complete my final speech on time in term 1 if I didn't have my zettelkasten to rely on. However, I've recently discovered that maintaining a zettelkasten might be antithetical to getting my BS in Computer Science. I hope to explore why here.
The Zettelkasten Model
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From the way I understand it, the main workflow for using a Zettelkasten basically goes like this:
- Find something interesting.
- Read that something through, noting the parts You want to take note of.
- Make the notes for those parts.
- File them in the Zettelkasten, which now has that information forever.
But it is slow!
I was barely able to keep up for the first two terms, mostly because so much of my 'school' time was set aside for going through the backlog of zettels that I had to write out and store. Since I have put the zettelkasten away, I've found it much easier to keep up with the increasing workload (sometimes I'll have to reference upwards of 8 new articles in a week! Ingesting them into the zettelkasten would have taken me a full day by itself!) and think I'll reserve the zettelkasten for information I definitelywant to reference in my own work… At least until I get my Bachelor's of Science in Computer Science. Once I'm in graduate school, I'm hopeful I will be able to take the time to do this properly.
: This could be very wrong, obviously, though if it is I think I would like to explore the idea as I understand it before learning the 'correct' way. Once I am out of my undergraduate education, I intend to reignite my efforts. Maybe I'll make an update then.
: I don't mean this necessarily in the general sense. If You are able to focus on one piece of information for a longer period of time, I am confident my problems with the zettelkasten would no longer be accurate. But when You are constantly context-switching and juggling a full time job, 8 week courses, and an obsessively-minded researching style, it can make reading three or four papers a bit of a lag.
: Maybe the solution actually lies within being more picky about what I add. But It's hard to do that when taking so much general education! Once my studies are more about my studies, I think doing this kind of knowledge work will be much more straightforward.