Update- The Antinet Note-Taking System

John Guerrero
2 min readJul 28, 2022
Mortimer Adler with his collection of permanent notes. (Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/va2s09/mortimer_j_adlers_slip_box_collection_photo_of/)

A few weeks ago I committed to the analog Zettelkasten system. In some circles, this is known as an “Antinet.” I highly recommend reading Scott Scheper’s work on this.

I will give this an honest effort for 90 days just to see if it’s something I want to continue doing. Here are some of the pros and cons that I have experienced so far.

Pros

  1. Quality versus quantity. You must be very selective in what you put on your notecard. With digital notes, the sky is the limit. I wouldn’t be too picky with what I’d put on a digital note because I could type faster than I could write. These limitations help me with writing only the absolute essence of a thought.
  2. Less screen time. I work on a computer all day. And when I’m not on the computer, I’m looking at my phone. I’m not too sure this is healthy long-term. But I haven’t looked into the research behind this too much. I just know that my eyes have trouble focusing after looking at screens all day.
  3. I finally understand the Zettelkasten process! Trying to implement Nicolas Luhman’s (the source of all this hype about Zettelkastens) analog system in a digital platform was confusing for me. I didn’t really understand the difference between a “literature note” and a “permanent note.” I do now. Understanding all of this, thanks to the Antinet, makes it easier to transpose this process to the digital format.

Cons

  1. Searching for notes is harder. I’ve accumulated about 100 permanent notes so far. Although my index is pretty thorough, I have a hard time quickly finding notes. When a familiar thought comes to my mind, I know I’ve written a note on it in my system. The issue is finding it quickly. I may just be too new to this process. And who knows, this limitation may be a feature, not a bug.
  2. Access to your notes is limited. In the digital world, I could access my notes on almost any device. If I was debating someone on a topic with which I’m familiar, I could easily pull up some notes and draft a response. I can’t do that with an analog system. But I do remember information I’ve written down more than the ones I’ve typed.
  3. Space requirements. I don’t have that many notes yet- about a 100 note cards. But as my permanent notes grow, that would require more desk space. Mortimer Adler’s set of notes would take up a good chunk of an office.

I still have my doubts about this fully analog notes system, but I’m going to continue this process for a few more months. I’ve enjoyed the process so far. But I have yet to test this in an academic setting.

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John Guerrero

Wisdom on life, health, and wealth in under 5 minutes.