Zibbaldone With It All

Less Zettelkasten! More Zibbaldone!

A Zettelkasten requires you to intricately interconnect and crosslink your thoughts, figuring out exactly how each concept relates to every other concept. A Zibbaldone is writing down whatever random thing comes to mind—an omnisubject diary of sorts. That’s what people are throwing into their Zettelkasten, with their careful annotations and interrelations. What if everyone could access everyone else’s Zettelkasten, and interrlate them into a glorious omniscient noospheric substrate? Wow! Whatta thought!

Buuuuuuullshit. This is semantic web stuff all over again—and right at the cusp of it having been clearly and entirely outmoded by automatic natural language processing. We don’t need to manually mark up pages when Google will index them all for us anyway! Humans might think in that chaotic, random Zettelkastian way, but explicit sentence composition and task completion is temporally linear, and so we need to output our thoughts in much the same way. Not that we wouldn’t love to manually annotate our every passing thought, but god, who has time for that?

What we’re really missing is a tool that will take whatever random trash I throw out of my brain, figure out how it relates to historical junk I threw out of my brain, and point out the connections for me. Hell, ideally mid-composition: a modern ersatz Clippy pops up—“Hey, it looks like you’re talking about Wittgenstein again! Do you want me to autofill what you already think about it, or have you changed your mind about the topic?”

Not only that: once you get your thoughts out of your head bereft of order, an AI could rephrase your thoughts back to you more clearly, more concisely, help interrogate what you mean, point out logical contradictions, challenge your ideas. We need only Zibbaldone out our stream of consciousness and it can be autonomously interrlated into a glorious omniscient noospheric substrate! Wow! Whatta thought!

...just ignore the risks of mentally coupling with an opaque box, whose biases you don’t understand, whose intentions may be short term and not long term, who may network you with exactly the wrong people. Zibbaldone to Zettelkasten mapping seems like a middling-difficulty problem with existing tools, and whoever solves it is going to make a lot of money. When we can auto-generate a Zettelkasten from a blog—or dozens of them—you’ll have a whole world of brilliance to tap into!

...or bias. Or noise. Or exactly the sort of thing you’re trying to escape from—the internet, where the awful people are, with the Bad Opinions. And what you end up is just another wiki to mindlessly trawl through, to process, to “integrate”. I’m starting to think the important part of a Zettelkasten isn’t making the links for your future self so much as training yourself to notice the links at all. The Zettelkasten’s just external practice for what should be an internal and subconscious process—seeing the fnords, noticing the interconnectedness, it’s just training to be a holistic discordian—getting you past the madness of your surface layer thoughts and into the deeper crystalline method.

Of course, everyone will think you’re a little crazy—and of course, they’ll be a little right. But when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro, and when insanity’s the zeitgeist, nothing’s more professional than crazy talk. Have fun making bank on the Zibbaldone-Zettelkasten mapping, crafting neurological parasites, offloading the part of our brain with connections and opinions to an external cognitive artifact! No way that can go wrong.

Really, the harder problem’s going the other way—give me a web, which path should I walk? What is the narrative of a human mind? You can’t read a Zettelkasten effectively, it has too many strands and streams and errant thoughts; you have to craft a narrative out of it, even if you’re consuming it out of order, but figuring out how to knit the threads together into a cohesive chunk for consumption’s the hard part. What’s the mapping then? Zibbaldone to Zettelkasten to… Roman-Fleuve, ministructure to the metastructure? Zettel-fleuve, Zibbal-fleuve? Zittal, Zabbal, Zettaldone, Zibbalkasten, - god, we’re all turning into lunatics aren’t we? The jargon’s making zibbering lunatics of us all—just write something down, anything, throw it to the aether and be zibbaldone with it all.