Alan Jacobs gives some insight into how he keeps track of things when doing research for a book. Reading the post, you come to know he’s tried many ways of organizing things, but he’s recently begun following the methods of Niklas Luhmann’s Zettelkasten system.
He shares how he had thought he was too late in life to adopt this system, but…
But ultimately, when I was working on The Year of Our Lord 1943, I realized that the demands of my research — trying to track the thought and writing of five figures working in complete isolation from one another — called for something like a Zettelkasten system. (It would take a long time to explain why, but it had to do with cross-referencing ideas that were related to one another in a variety of ways: by author, by date, by theme.) Well, I thought, why not have a collection of Zettel that is based not on a lifetime of research but on a single project? So I tried that. And it worked wonderfully.
It’s an interesting post and this kind of subject always catches my attention. But, if you’re like me, you may not understand the terminology being used or the core concept of the Zettelkasten system itself. But that’s the beauty of a good Internet rabbit trail.
Jacobs points the way and this is where I found myself lost for some time. I won’t bore you with details if you're not into information architecture, paper, and organization.
But if you are, save this link for later!