There seems to be an issue with figuring out which "connection" to use in each of the traditional PKMS 

Here are some topics in Reddit asking or recommending what you need to use. 
So what is the right thing to do really? Which of these ideas should you use? 

chat GPT "Conversation"

Why are PKMS users having issues using tags vs folders vs links?

Users of PKMS (Preservation, Knowledge Management, and Sharing) systems may encounter challenges when using tags, folders, or links due to differences in organization methods and their respective strengths and weaknesses:


Tags offer flexibility by allowing users to assign multiple tags to a single item, enabling diverse categorization.
However, without a strict hierarchical structure, finding specific items might be challenging, particularly if tags are inconsistently applied or lack clear naming conventions.
Users may face difficulties in maintaining a standardized tag taxonomy across the organization, leading to inconsistencies in classification.


Folders provide a clear hierarchical structure, making it easier for users to navigate and find content.
However, placing items in a single folder restricts them to a specific category, potentially leading to redundancy or difficulty in locating related items that might belong to multiple categories.
Managing nested folders can become cumbersome, especially as the volume of content grows, leading to longer navigation paths and potential disorganization.


Links allow users to connect related items without duplicating content, preserving storage space and ensuring content consistency.
However, relying solely on links might result in broken links if the original content is moved or deleted, leading to accessibility issues.
Users may find it challenging to keep track of multiple links across different items, potentially leading to confusion or loss of context.
In summary, the choice between tags, folders, and links depends on the specific requirements of the PKMS system and the preferences of its users. A balanced approach that combines the strengths of each method while mitigating their respective limitations may be the most effective strategy for organizing and managing knowledge within the system. Additionally, user training and clear guidelines can help address issues related to tagging consistency and folder hierarchy, enhancing the overall usability of the PKMS system.

how did Niklas Luhmann resolve this with zettelkasten
Niklas Luhmann, a German sociologist, developed the Zettelkasten method, also known as the "slip-box" method, as a way to organize and manage knowledge. While Luhmann's method predates modern digital PKMS systems, it offers insights into how individuals can resolve issues related to organization and navigation of knowledge. Here's how Luhmann's Zettelkasten method addresses some of the challenges associated with tags, folders, and links:


Luhmann's Zettelkasten relies on a structured system of index cards, each representing a discrete idea or concept.
Instead of folders or tags, Luhmann used a numbering system to link related index cards, creating a network of interconnected ideas.
This structure allows for flexible organization and navigation, as users can follow chains of related cards to explore interconnected topics.

Unlike traditional folders or tags, which impose a rigid hierarchy or categorization, Luhmann's method emphasizes the creation of associative links between ideas.
Each index card in the Zettelkasten system can be linked to multiple other cards, facilitating nonlinear exploration and discovery.
By establishing connections between cards, users can create a rich tapestry of knowledge that reflects the complex relationships between ideas.

Luhmann's Zettelkasten method offers users flexibility in how they organize and structure their knowledge.
Instead of imposing predefined categories or taxonomies, the system allows users to adapt their organization to fit the unique contours of their own thinking.
This flexibility enables users to capture and connect ideas in a way that aligns with their cognitive processes, fostering creativity and innovation.
While Luhmann's Zettelkasten method predates modern digital PKMS systems, its principles offer valuable insights into how individuals can organize and manage knowledge in a flexible and adaptable manner. By emphasizing associative links between ideas and providing a structured framework for exploration and discovery, the Zettelkasten method offers a powerful alternative to traditional folder-based or tag-based approaches.

Did his links have a hierarchy?
In Niklas Luhmann's Zettelkasten method, the links between index cards do not adhere to a strict hierarchical structure like traditional folders. Instead, the connections between cards form a network of associations, allowing for non-linear exploration and navigation of ideas.

While there may be a certain degree of organization within the Zettelkasten system, such as grouping related cards together or arranging them in chronological order, the primary focus is on the connections between individual cards rather than their hierarchical placement within a folder-like structure.

Each index card in the Zettelkasten system can be linked to multiple other cards, creating a web of interconnected ideas. This approach allows users to follow chains of associations and discover relationships between seemingly disparate concepts, without being constrained by a rigid hierarchy.

Overall, Luhmann's Zettelkasten method prioritizes the flexibility and fluidity of connections between ideas, enabling users to explore knowledge in a dynamic and organic way.

So it did not have a backward or forward association?
In the Zettelkasten method, there are indeed backward and forward associations between index cards. These associations allow for the creation of a network of interconnected ideas, facilitating non-linear exploration and navigation of knowledge.

Backward Associations: When creating a new index card, the author often references or links back to previous cards that are relevant to the new idea being discussed. These backward associations help provide context and build upon existing knowledge within the Zettelkasten system.

Forward Associations: Similarly, each index card can contain links or references to other cards that expand upon or relate to the current topic. These forward associations allow users to explore related concepts and ideas, extending their understanding beyond the initial card they are viewing.

By establishing both backward and forward associations between index cards, the Zettelkasten method enables users to traverse a network of interconnected ideas, moving freely between related concepts and topics. This non-linear approach to knowledge organization encourages creativity, discovery, and deeper exploration of interconnected themes.

How did his zettelkasten differentiate backward and forward associations?
Niklas Luhmann's Zettelkasten method didn't differentiate between backward and forward associations in a technical sense as modern digital systems might. Instead, the distinction between backward and forward associations was made contextually by the user during the process of creating and linking index cards.

Here's how this worked:

Backward Associations: When creating a new index card, Luhmann would often refer back to previous index cards that contained related or foundational ideas. These backward associations were created by physically linking the new index card to relevant older cards. Luhmann might write a brief note on the new card indicating which older cards it was connected to, essentially pointing backward to the sources or ideas that informed the new one.

Forward Associations: Similarly, Luhmann might anticipate how a new idea or concept might relate to future ideas. He would link the current index card to potential future cards that might expand upon or relate to the current topic. Again, this was done physically by creating a link or reference from the current card to potential future ones, essentially pointing forward to where the discussion might lead.

The differentiation between backward and forward associations was more about the contextual understanding of how ideas were related rather than a formal distinction within the system itself. Luhmann's Zettelkasten relied heavily on the user's ability to create meaningful connections between index cards, allowing for a dynamic and associative network of ideas to emerge over time.

Could he have had multiple back associations? or just one per card
In Niklas Luhmann's Zettelkasten method, there wasn't a strict limitation on the number of backward associations (links to previous cards) per card. Luhmann's approach allowed for multiple backward associations, enabling the creation of a complex network of interconnected ideas.

Luhmann's method encouraged users to create links between index cards whenever they found connections between ideas, regardless of whether those connections were to previous cards, future cards, or multiple cards. This flexibility facilitated a rich tapestry of associations and allowed for non-linear exploration of knowledge.

Therefore, Luhmann could indeed have multiple backward associations on a single card, reflecting the diverse relationships between ideas within his Zettelkasten system. This approach allowed for a nuanced and interconnected representation of knowledge, where each card could serve as a node within a broader network of ideas.

Could a card have a forward and backward link that is the same?
Yes, in Niklas Luhmann's Zettelkasten method, it was entirely possible for a card to have both a forward and backward link that pointed to the same card. This situation could arise when an idea or concept was revisited or expanded upon in subsequent cards.

For example, consider the following scenario:

Card A contains a concept or idea.
Card B is created later, which builds upon the concept introduced in Card A. Card B would have a backward link pointing to Card A, indicating that it references and expands upon the ideas presented in Card A.
Now, imagine that even later in the process, Card C is created, which revisits the concept introduced in Card A and further elaborates on it. Card C could have both a backward link to Card A (as it revisits the original concept) and a forward link to Card B (as it builds upon the ideas introduced in Card B).
In this scenario, Card C serves as a bridge between the earlier concept (Card A) and its subsequent development (Card B), illustrating how the Zettelkasten method allows for the dynamic exploration and expansion of ideas within a network of interconnected index cards.

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