Integrating Zettelkasten Pages into MyHub.ai

With a interview looming for Trond Undheim’s Futurized podcast, I needed to review everything I had ever Hubbed relevant to surveillance capitalism, polarisation, social media and society. Time to pilot Zettelkasten Pages on my Hub.

When MyHub.ai launched last March it included ‘Service Pages’ for adding value to each Hub’s collection of Resources. As the name suggests, you create one to summarise the Services you provide in a particular field.

Unlike most webpages, each Service Page is underpinned by a set of tags.

Each Service Page “summarises what you do in a particular area, and guides readers to your most relevant content — including the relevant Stuff you Think and Do”FAQ: What are Service Pages?

After your manually-written description (“Body”), each Service Page auto-provides:

  • the latest 9 Resources you’ve Hubbed and Highlighted (ie, a ‘Best of’ Resource) with any of those tags
  • a searchable, filterable collection of all Resources you’ve Hubbed with any of those tags.

Those tags also make your Service Pages appear whenever relevant to your visitor.

From Service Pages to ZKPages

A month or two after MyHub.ai launched, Trond Undheim invited me onto his Futurized podcast to talk about future trends at the intersection of surveillance capitalism, (social) media and polarisation.

As I desperately cast around for something interesting to say, I realised a MyHub.ai Service Page could help organise and clarify my thoughts: I would use it to create a Zettelkasten Permanent Note.

A what? The Annex has details — for now, simply check out the result on my Hub: Surveillance Capitalism, Social media and Polarisation (ZK).

Technically, this is a MyHub.ai Service Page. Creating it with the tags surveillance, media and polarization immediately gave me a collection of over 400 Hubbed Resources(*) which I’ve curated over the past decade, filterable by dozens of additional tags.

Those tags sent me in interesting, surprising directions as I mined those linked Resources for my interview. While I put my notes in the Page’s Body, however, I did not write it like a Service Page. This is something akin to what Zettelkasters call a Permanent Note (see Annex), where you:

Go through each note [Hubbed Resource]… thinking about how they relate to what you’re learning, your interests, thinking or research… add new values to your existing ideas... finding meaningful connections between what you just learned and what you already know… to build a web of knowledge…
- What is the Zettelkasten Research Method? — Shu Omi

(*) Since then I’ve removed media from the Page’s tag bundle, as I have used this tag too ubiquitously, cutting related Resources from 453 to 24. ^

If it’s not a Service Page, what form should it take? It’s not a blog post, although it does resemble the enewsletter I piloted back when I was first exploring the whole Hub concept (all editions are tagged newsletter).

Instead, my first attempt looks more like a (one person) wiki - a page of constantly updated notes which simultaneously:

  • contains your summary of what you’ve been reading about an idea, and what you think about that idea — how it resonates with you, connects to other ideas, etc.
  • automatically presents the latest 9 Resources you’ve Hubbed and Highlighted (i.e, labelled “The Best”) about that idea
  • automatically links to a searchable, filterable collection of all the Resources you’ve Hubbed about that idea.

While not a blog post, it is definitely a useful backgrounder for each blog post I’ll write (or each podcast I prepare for) in the future.

The only difference is that ‘classic’ Zettelkasten Permanent Notes are about one idea, whereas I can create “ZK Pages” about multiple tags if I wish to examine the intersection of different tags. But that creates a problem which needs a technical fix, below.

What’s next?

For now I’m still exploring the idea, so I won’t change MyHub.ai technically. All “ZK Pages” therefore still appear under my ‘Services’ whenever relevant, with “ZK” in the title to set them apart.

If the idea looks good, however, it would make sense to highlight these pages somewhere else and/or apply the idea to the Categories, which are currently used to help navigation (“FAQ: What are the Categories presented in the navigation phrase dropdown list?”).

More importantly, I need to tweak the search algorithm used by Service Pages. Currently, it lists all Resources with any of the tags in the Page’s tag set, which can create too many Resources. To improve the signal-to-noise, I’m considering ordering Resources by Page Relevance, prioritising Resources which have several tags in the Page’s bundle.

Tell me what you think by either Responding here or dropping me a line via my Hub’s About Page.

Annex: What is Zettelkasten?

For those unfamiliar with Zettelkasten, it’s essentially a note-taking system. Unlike others, it helps you find connections between ideas, and as such is an ideal part of your “second brain” (3 Resources).

Crucial to Zettelkasten is autonomous atomicity — each note should be dedicated to one idea only, and can be understood on its own, as well as being linked to all other relevant notes using non-hierarchical tags. In this way, your Zettelkasten, growing day by day:

“gives you a systematic way to research information, structure your knowledge, and develop your thinking … [and] find connections between any past idea … and any present or future ideas”
- Zettelkasten — How One German Scholar Was So Freakishly Productive, David B. Clear

The above article gives an excellent overview of the What & Why, but for the How it focuses on paper Index Cards. Apart from the fact that paper is unsearchable, it means manually updating multiple cards each time you create a new note:

“to make it easier for yourself to find cards with a particular tag, create another note where you list all the tags you’ve used, with each tag followed by a list of identifiers corresponding to notes that match the given tag” — David B. Clear

When we Hub an online article to create a Resource, of course, we annotate and tag the article to the benefit of both ourselves and our audience.

What is the Zettelkasten Research Method? — Shu Omi

These Resources look like a Zettelkasten’s literature notes (Step 1, left), written as one reads something. But Hubbed Resources also include bibliographic notes (Step 2), as they automatically link to the original source material.

I suddenly realised that Service Pages gave me a medium for what Zettelkasters call Permanent Notes, where you:

Go through each note … thinking about how they relate to what you’re learning, your interests, thinking or research… add new values to your existing ideas, arguments and discussions…. finding meaningful connections between what you just learned and what you already know… build a web of knowledge…
- What is the Zettelkasten Research Method? — Shu Omi

The above quote is actually from my notes taken as I curated Shu Omi’s article to my Hub, of course ;)

However, this does not make MyHub.ai a Zettelkasten tool:

  • most articles cover several ideas, so each Hubbed Resource touches upon several ideas, rather than Zettelkasten’s “one idea, one note” model
  • I create literature notes principally through selective quotation - select key phrase, copy/paste to Resource, edit it— rather than writing everything in my own words, which is something I tend to reserve for publication.

I therefore need to continue exploring the form, and change my habits.

Need more? It and other relevant resources are tagged zettelkasten.

Piloting innovative online communications since 1995. Editor: medium.com/Knowledge4Policy. Founder: MyHub.ai. Personal Hub: https://myhub.ai/@mathewlowry/