Literature notes

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In the discussions on the Zettelkasten method, either How to Take Smart Notes - Sönke Ahrens, or the discussions of Andy Matuschak, and, I miss an important contextual piece of information which is the link with reality and our own experience (see: note taking lacks internal discussions).

Literature notes are based on a single-source like a paper, or a book (could also be any other citable form of content, but I mostly consume those two).

They are taken in the context of that source and not in the context of my own system of beliefs. And this is important, since it allows me to insert into my knowledge-base information that may offer contrasting points to what I believe.

It also allows me the quickly recover the original idea of the authors, the hypotheses under which they were operating, experimental conditions, etc.

In my approach to a digital garden, having atomic notes became very useful to make them easily linkeable (notes should be concept-based). Creating explicit literature notes allows me to quickly recover the context from which a conclusion was drawn even if it fits multiple different branches of thought.

In the Luhmann method there's a type of note called the bibliographic note, that should be used to keep track of all the notes that derived from a single source and could have been stored at different locations within the Zettelkasten.

However, I find that my literature notes in many cases are not linked (or not automatically) to the rest of my system. In many cases I am reading something for the first time, or I just want to keep a screenshot of some results at hand.

When reading a paper, for example, except for the general topic, I find it increasingly hard to make connections. Perhaps it's about the method, or the sample they've used, but nothing deeper. The literature note gives me this peace of mind of knowing I can store what I found valuable without the overhead of thinking at the entirety of my note-taking system.

Maybe relevant: [[§ how i take notes of papers]]

Tags: #how-to-take-notes #how-to-maintain-a-digital-garden


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Aquiles Carattino
Aquiles Carattino
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