@Andreas_Haberle, thanks for your remarks in response to my long-winded reminiscence.
I infer you are much earlier on the trail of your GTD journey, and I’m glad anything I said will help you formulate a coherent MO and strategy moving forward.
Presumably (at least I presumed) it made sense to restrict my remarks to whatever of substance I did say, as this is, after all, a Get Drafts forum, and sometimes the value and impact of any valuable remarks gets vitiated by expanding the scope of what, in fact, may be salient, but not immediately relevant. Hence, I didn’t make any mention of what happened to the content of the index cards I kept so meticulously back in the day (and they were, necessarily, meticulous as it was my habit and personal quirkiness that I eschewed the use of ballpoint pens and wrote everything down either with pen and ink (literally, as in a fountain pen, or my particular affectation, the Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph; I must have had delusions that whatever I was recording somehow had permanent value and I’d better ensure the scratchings were preservable).
Naturally, I couldn’t submit seminar papers or thesis drafts on packets of index cards, no matter how ingeniously indexed and categorized and tabulated. Further, of course, except for notes in reference, mainly by date, or in standard scholarly form, by author and date of publication – depending on the link it occurred to me existed between whatever was recorded as a note on one card with the content of another. There was a lot of juggling of cards for sure, and temporary groupings, and re-groupings.
But the chief means of coordinating and tying together disparate sources of connected facts and records, if not more broadly related, perhaps expansively apposite points that were, indeed, pointers and proofs of more broad matters of inquiry, if not focused theories and hypotheses… perhaps themes I thought I detected in the works of a single author, or a shared by several authors… were, of course, the ubiquitous notebooks that were the student’s stock in trade: in my case either as standard 8.5x11 inch loose leaf binders with rings that sprang open and closed, or as spiral bound notebooks, in ready supply at the campus bookstore.
Today, the roles of these binders and containers, as repositories of related collected snippets, facts, whatever, and mainly collected on those myriad index cards, but also sometimes on collected scraps of whatever paper was available when inspiration, or a relevant bit of reading suddenly, lit up my consciousness, begging for transcription for possible later use. These notebooks also, of course, were the recording media for more expansive drafts, of actual presentable prose.
And the point of this, to cut to the chase, is of course that, regarding these notebooks, in my case, their function (and then some, given the far more powerful potentialities of digital technology to create the means of very complex technologies for gathering, arranging, and connecting data in many forms – and not just snippets of language, or brief prose notes, or pro forma reference data – including visual files containing graphic and photographic representations of viewable exhibits) has been subsumed by any number of ingenious applications and systematized data manipulation environments. I’m talking about such software products as DEVONthink Pro, Tinderbox, etc.
I think any discussion of these, though relevant to the theory and practice of zettelkasten – whether deployed as virtual or physical systems – is beyond the purview, in my opinion, of this specific forum.
I’ll finish only by stating the obvious. And that is, for me (at least) the sometimes seemingly overwhelming job of transferring the essnetially fundamental, if not raw, data stored with strict adherence to the principles of unicity and atomicity on real or digital slips, and which 50 years ago I had to do to a maddening degree of iteration and reiteration entirely by hand, ink blotches and all, has been significantly reduced for the factors of bandwidth and consequent labor efficiency, which was the chief promise of computers in the first place.
I doubt very much the quality of my thoughts, such as they have been, was improved.