The Daily Scott Scheper

600 West Broadway, Suite 700
San Diego, CA 92101

(Home Page)

No. 187

Fleeting Notes, Literature Notes, and Permanent Notes are Complete Fabrications

Audio podcast version

New Reader?

Do Not Waste Your Time Reading Below Until You've Read the ABOUT YOU page!

Issue No. 187

Scott P. Scheper
One American Plaza
Downtown San Diego, CA

Sunday, 7:50 pm

Dear Friend,

I have a surprise for you.

Do you know how I teased you by ending yesterday's letter before sharing with you the pros and cons of analog?... And do you recall how I told you I'd share it with you today?

Well, here's your surprise... I'm going to make you wait until tomorrow!

Here's why: I'd rather share something better first. Now, here's the no-bull reason why I'm making you wait: it's because today is a Sunday. I've decided to take my commitment seriously for "at least one day per week of rest and play." That day happens to be today. For this reason, I've elected not to drive down the street to my office, where the pros and cons list of analog resides. Even if I had it with me, I probably wouldn't share it today. Why? Because I feel like writing in analog form instead today about something that is even more perfect.

Last evening, I searched the term, Zettelkasten, on social media. The first result was of an individual who replied to an article about cognitive biases. This individual replied to the person who posted the link to the article. He wrote, "Great list, I added them all to my Zettelkasten."

I saw this message because it contained the term, Zettelkasten. "Out of curiosity," I asked him, "is your Zettelkasten analog or digital?"

He replied, "digital," but declared he tries to use the same system as Luhmann (the creator of the Zettelkasten method). He went on to say something about starting with software called "Roam Research". Yet he now finds something called "Athens" to work just fine. He puts his "Fleeting Notes" and "Literature Notes" into some concept called "Daily Notes," and when he turns notes into "Permanent Notes," he says, they get a dedicated page.

There is more, and I will not get into his suggestion that one could obtain "the best of both worlds" by using a "reMarkable tablet" and "Evernote." I've tried such a thing, and it misses at least two critical benefits that stem from analog.[1]

The critical point, however, is he uses the terms "Fleeting Notes," "Literature Notes," and "Permanent Notes."

Did you catch that?

He tries to use the same system Luhmann used, he said initially. Yet there's only one problem... Fleeting Notes, Literature Notes, and Permanent Notes are terms Luhmann never used. They're inventions of Sönke Ahrens, and his Latter-Day Offshoots. They're terms from The Ahrensian Gospel of Notes.

What is the primary issue with this? It's not the system responsible for Luhmann's publishing output.[2] It's not the system that will make you "a publication machine."[3]

If you hang around here, however, you will learn precisely how Luhmann's system worked. You will also learn how to build your own.

Until then,

Always remember...

To stay crispy, my friend.

Sunday, 8:28 pm


  1. The first being that the physical, tangible material network your brain builds when actually running its hands and eyes regularly through the network of thoughts and cards is destroyed. Second, it results in the ability to search, which eliminates the benefit of constraints in forcing you to think hard about associating each idea correctly and not to mention the other negatives of search. And third, the physical, tangible ability to organize and rearrange cards on a table for a paper you're writing is critical and is watered down by the distractions of digital. The only utility for scanning physical notecards is if it's purely for digital backup purposes. But I'd only advise such a thing if you have an assistant or someone else do it for you. Why? So you do not get distracted by such. ↩︎

  2. 60 books, 550 research papers, and 150 unpublished manuscripts. ↩︎

  3. Schmidt, Johannes. "Niklas Luhmann's Card Index: Thinking Tool, Communication Partner, Publication Machine." Forgetting Machines. Knowledge Management Evolution in Early Modern Europe 53 (2016), 311. ↩︎


Scott P. Scheper