Chris Aldrich and his Research on digital public zettelkasten

I’m curious if anyone has tried building a digital public zettelkasten on WordPress…

Note by Chris Aldrich.

Chris’s question is what started me thinking about and cobbling together this site: Cyberzettel.  It’s going to be a work in progress as I figure out what works for me.

Chris has done a lot of research and thinking about note taking approaches in general and both paper and digital zettelkasten.  His ongoing quest is available here and is well worth reading through along with the comments.

Successful Conversion from WordPress to ClassicPress

  1. New site.  Started with a fresh WordPress install.
  2. Got WP site set up.
  3. Installed Indieweb plugins and a few others.  Avoided using WordPress owned plugins like Jetpack and Akismet.  Found alternatives.
  4. Wrote some posts.
  5. Rediscovered ClassicPress.  Decided this was the best time to try ClassicPress before I have too much content and before I add too many more plugins.
  6. CP is compatible with most WP plugins that will run on ver. 4.9.9 or older.  Checked all plugins.
  7. Just to be safe, prior to conversion, I disabled almost all plugins including all Indieweb plugins.
  8. Installed the ClassicPress migration plugin.
  9. Followed instructions on that page for migration plugin.
  10. Plugin detected no conflicts.
  11. Migrated.
  12. Yea!  Nothing broke. No errors. Utterly painless.
  13. Started reactivating plugins disabled in step #7 above.
  14. Everything works.  The reactivation of the Indieweb WP plugins caused no errors that I can detect.  But, the site being so new, they remain untested.

Why Convert to ClassicPress?

If you don’t trust the direction WordPress is headed (ie. block editor and more commerce oriented).  Combined with all you need is a full featured blog.

What have we learned?

My web host does not support ClassicPress auto installs.  However I can 1 click install WordPress and very easily convert it to ClassicPress right away via that migration plugin.


How This Works: Zettelkasten



Zettel = slip of paper. (Like an index card.)

kasten = box

So notes on slips of paper stored in a box.

How this is supposed to work.

The idea is that each post represents one note.  In the dirt world each note would be on one index card.

A note can be any length.  Most are short but others will be longer.

There is no rulebook for this so I’m going to use:

Categories for broad topics:  (ie. search engines, computers, social networks)

Tags will be more specific:  (ie. Google, Amiga, Twitter)

At least that is how I’m going to try it at start.  Between categories, tags and site search I should be able to find notes.

The second point of this is through categories and tags you will find relationships between things, concepts and ideas that you didn’t think were related.  But for this to start happening you need a certain critical mass of notes.

In the meantime,  you have your notes all in one place AND you can find them.

WP Themes and Indieweb

Tried using the Indieweb compatible IW26 theme.  Started getting array errors.  Not sure why.  There are too many moving parts going on right now to stop and try and diagnose the problem so I switched to the standard Twenty Sixteen theme.

Indieweb plugins installed.  They are going to have to work with Twenty Sixteen theme or not.  Indieweb capability would be nice but is not a priority for this site right now. Bugfix later.  My original vision for this site includes comment form but no Indieweb.  Added Indieweb because I can see synergies, but it is not vital for task.

Could have used SemPress theme which I like a lot, but already using it since 2018 on another site and need to have different appearance.