8th September, 2021

How I use Tiddlywiki to build my Zettelkasten

I use tiddlywiki to build my pseudo-Zettelkasten and thought I'll share some things about my process.

For those unfamiliar with these terms, a Zettelkasten is a note-taking system and TiddlyWiki is a non-linear notebook

Types of notes I take

  • Fleeting notes: These notes also those not captured on the TiddlyWiki. They are captured elsewhere with the intention of converting into a permanent note.
    • For example: scribbled on post-it notes when reading from physical books, highlights and short notes on kindle, written notes from class
  • Bibliographic notes: I use the tag "source" for this.
  • Permanent notes: These form the bulk of the Zettelkasten.
    • Rest of the notes are an example of this They are have appropriately tagged based on what categories they form.

How I take notes

When reading or listening, I take fleeting notes. These are usually very rough (or not, depends on the situation). Once in a while (I try to keep this interval to not more than a week), I convert these fleeting notes into source notes.

Source notes can be very long or short. If the ideas are such that they are more suited to be permanent notes, the source note could just be a list of links to permanent notes (like Radical Markets - Eric A. Posner, E. Glen Weyl) or the source note can be very dense.

When making permanent notes, I make sure to:

  • Capture each idea as a seperate note.
  • Add the shortest, still coherent title
  • Add the appropriate tags
  • Summarize the note in a few short lines in the first paragraph
  • Write in full sentences and with good grammer.
    • Each note should be as short and simple as possible and no shorter.
    • Notes on a new topic will be longer - its fine.
    • I keep in mind that I am not writing this for myself, but for my future self.
  • After I add a note, I add links to other notes which are relevant.
    • How does this new idea connect, support, contradict, correct or add to other notes?
    • Think of the contexts under which I might want to stumble across this new idea.
  • Read more to fill in the gaps and develop my arguments
    • Be open to change - I change old notes all the time.

How TiddlyWiki supports my note taking

  • Easy backlinks functionality handles the work of adding references.
  • Notebook theme by Nico is my current favourite theme.
  • The relink plugin is essential.
  • I use CodeMirror along with CMPlus plugin to make the editor easier to write with.
  • I made TiddlyJam to render my TW to a static website (which is where you might be reading this)
  • I use the Karya Plugin to do task management inside my TW itself (it made that too)