Another Zettlekasten

Saturday, 23 July 2022

I’ve found it interesting to have found this Reddit community over the last couple of days. “Antinet” is apparently a reaction to the PKM fad currently prevalent in some parts of the internet.

Antinet (which stands for Analogue, Numeric, Something, Something) is deemed by its creator (Scott P. Scheper) to be the purist’s Zettlekasten, untarnished by digital tools, which, he claims, notetaking-Nazi Niklas Luhmann himself would be using today as he did during his sociological heyday. Just lots of index cards in drawers, linked together with a simple numbering scheme, eschewing Markdown, blocks, Clojurescript and even (whisper it) - backlinks.

I’ve been lured into both the analogue and the digital implementations of PKM, having read How to Take Smart Notes like everybody else. I’ve switched tools enough times to have made the whole enterprise redundant. I started with the least fashionable - The Brain, tried Roam Research back when it was free and even slower and more unreliable than it is now, to Obsidian (for the freedom, the plain text and the Markdown), to Logseq (the privacy-respecting and free - as in beer - Roam Research clone) and back again.

I got sick of them all.

As my parsimony towards software increased over the last year or so, and I adopted OpenBSD as something of a home, I’ve become more comfortable on the command line and written my own scipts to take, name, save and locate notes. I stopped worrying about trying to link plain text files when I said goodbye to Vimwiki and instead concluded that all I needed was grep. There’s nothing cool about it, but I can capture links and information at lightning speed - and even find them again given a bit of patience.

Admittedly, my “system” is knowhere on the Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom spectrum, and it doesn’t help me do anything but log events, take snapshot thoughts and take notes for work. Regardless. Although of course I would like to develop towards the upper eschelons of knowledge, I’m cynical to the hype and I agree with Scott Scheper that Roam, Obsidian, the “Second Brain” and all the rest of the frameworks don’t do much to get you there either. But they do sell books and courses and garner Twitter interest.

“Achieving wisdom is hard, and there are no shortcuts.” [every wise person since the begining of time]

At some point, I also went the analogue route. I bought twelve boxes of index cards (at once) cheap, on eBay, and started taking notes on them. It feels different to write on paper and not on screen and I like it - some of the time. I’m sure it’s better for creativity and I think that is one of Scheper’s arguments.

So I mix and match - handwriting and Korn shell.

I’m wary of “communities” on the internet nowadays - even “legit” ones like Python’s (I’m not attracted to tools by their “community”, as some people claim. There’s another blog post in this.). For example, Scheper, in the YouTube videos I’ve seen of him so far, does seem to sneer a little at people like Tiago Forte and Nick Milo, two of PKM’s more aggressive marketeers with their slick YouTube channels, newsletters and multi-thousand dollar courses, yet it’s clear he’s in the early stages of the very same - who else calls Zettlekasten “Antinet” but him, seriously? And don’t forget there’s a book in the works, being dogfooded by the very system he espouses. Nothing wrong with that, but let’s see how slick the marketing eventually gets.


This post is tagged with: zettlekasten openbsd plaintext

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