The 1945 Memex design also introduced the concept of "trails", a concept derived from work in neuronal storage-retrieval networks at the time, which was a method of connecting information by linking units together in a networked manner, similar to hypertext paths. The process of making trails was called "trailblazing", and was based on a mechanical provision "whereby any item may be caused at will to select immediately and automatically another", just as though these items were being "gathered together from widely separated sources and bound together to form a new book"

Bush went so far as to suggest that in the future, there would be professional trailblazers who took pleasure in creating useful paths through the common record in such a fashion.

  • early idea for links (trails) in Memex was not so much a link from one thing to another, but a path through a complex idea
  • web "links" often feel like links on a wrong level - we link whole articles instead of sentences/paragraphs
  • transclusions and backlinks are both related ideas
  • exploring links is related to Browsing vs Searching

Various other links worth checking out:

  • CLIs and REPLs make trails of execution and thinking visible, GUIs usually put new state on top of the old one
    • CLIs allow users to see the history of query -> result
  • related to links and creating trails between ideas
  • constructing connections and mental models, and using current knowledge to acquire more knowledge (Seymour Papert) (links)
  • links - especially machine trails that could remodel the human
  • when thinking with zettelkasten I found that after a while note titles themselves become a shortcut to the ideas noted inside - I no longer have to open the note to have a mental picture of what it's about

In my experience, fractal nesting as a spatial navigation metaphor (folders) fails because fracticality thwarts orientation. Hard to hold a mental map of more than one level of depth. Works great as a contextual navigation metaphor though (links).

— Gordon Brander -

  • relationships are interesting to point out, this is how links get formed

After this was working, the last thing missing was making connections between blocks. Here the biggest inspiration was how vimperator (and similar plugins) handle opening links: you first hit f which adds little tooltips around all the links with few letters, and type those letters to open the link. I used similar mechanism for connecting blocks: you first hover over the input or output, hit c, and then type matching letter to add that link.

First one,, is where the most interesting links end up, together with my random thoughts, waiting for a weekly review. I mainly append to that file through iOS shortcut. I can quickly share a twitter link, or jot a quick note in drafts.

  • I don't use stable id to name the notes, I prefer human-readable ones, even if that means I sometimes have to fix broken links

The main premise is there though notes are short, they usually contain one idea, even if I can't name it yet (this also leads to interesting note titles, like spreadsheets might be a wrong model, or understanding requires effort). Notes are interlinked through direct links, and automatic backlinks (via muninn cli tooling). If I have a bunch of notes which seem related in some way, I create index note to collect them together, enforcing a specific point of view. Single note can be in multiple different indexes that way (connections are usually better than taxonomies).

I edit my thoughts in vim, which allows me to easily view multiple notes at once, and with addition of muninn-vim, to explore backlinks. Typical thinking session looks similar to this:

Szymon Kaliski © 2021