It certainly took an interesting intellect to develop a system like the Zettelkasten, though I’m not sure to what extent Luhmann credited the invention with his prolific success vs. having it attributed later as advertising hype. I would of course love to ape his success as a thinker, although I think another factor in that might be that my interests are spread further out, while his seemed to cluster around the social science he liked to write in.
And I’m not sure brainstorming is the right concept. I might brainstorm the solution to a specific problem I’m having, whereas with a Zettelkasten I’d build something shaped like a solution and then look for problems to use it on. There’s an element of play to it, too, in making the ideas dance with each other. It’s like seeing what kind of keys you could make with what’s available vs. trying to get back in when you’ve locked yourself out of the house.
That said most of what I did in this post was brainstorm, so I think a lot of building those keys comes down to brainstorming anyway and that the system just gives you a bunch of starting points for doing that.
That’s an interesting perspective. I would normally lump both those purposes (concrete problem-solving vs. playful solution-imagining) under the heading “brainstorming,” but they really are quite different mental maneuvers. Since life forces concrete problem-solving upon us, it might be particularly valuable to name playful solution-imagining in order to highlight it as a thing you can do. If concrete problem-solving is “brainstorming,” maybe this is “brainsplashing?”
That’s a wonderful name!