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Sönke Ahrens - How to Take Smart Notes

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How to Take Smart Notes by Dr. Sönke Ahrens takes Niklas Luhmann’s idea of a Zettlekasten and attempts to explain the reasoning and operation of a note-taking system of this kind. While Luhmann’s system is usually attributed to non-fiction and academic writing, Ahrens explains how it could be used in areas outside of them.

The Message

Niklas Luhmann was a German sociologist and professor of sociology at the University of Bielefeld, during his lifetime he was a prolific writer producing a large number of books, articles, and academic papers. The ability to produce these is attributed to his ‘Zettlekasten’, or slip-box. In the slip-box, he would organise and link notes about topics or questions, to build a paper ‘wiki’ of knowledge. By using the slip-box he was able to infer new questions and discover links between nuggets of information.

While the concept of Luhmann’s Zettlekasten is complex, the theory behind it can be used to augment your knowledge management system to allow it to assist with learning, writing, or research.

The Key Lessons

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Favourite Highlights

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The Takeaway

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