The Antinet Zettelkasten movement is picking up steam. Despite what you would first think, the term antinet is not a stab at digital technology, but rather a partial acronym. Specifically, ANTI stands for:
Eleanor Koenig briefly mentions the concept in her latest Obisidian Roundup newsletter.
Apparently some folks who use analog zettelkastens call them antinets. The subreddit community seems a bit dogmatic but I found skimming it to be interesting.
I went to one YouTube video about the practice and the “tutorial” was very scattered. It spoke to me of a mind in disarray, even though there were so many index cards meant to portray order and information organization. After watching the video, the term “dogmatic” doesn’t surprise me. Despite the disorganization, there was a sense of superiority about the system and its powers of cognitive augmentation.
I do kind of love the idea of a strictly analog zettelkasten. When the system was developed, it was all analog.1 You would hardly know it, though, because the system is mostly mentioned in context with a tool like Obsidian. However, research has shown that retention is better when using pen and paper than when using digital tools. Scott Scheper is an influential proponent of the system.
Luhmann did not specify analog as a requirement over digital. The reason why is simple. Digital tools were not an option when he started building his Zettelkasten. I believe that if Niklas Luhmann were alive today, he would continue using physical materials to develop his thinking. In future writings, I will share why Luhmann would continue using an analog Zettelkasten if he were alive today.
I think the system appeals to me not because of the promise of better retention, or the tactile nature of analog (just look at those glorious wooden boxes), but rather anything to move me away from more screen time seems like a win.
I’m not switching to analog anytime soon, though. I have yet to really exploit the power of Obsidian — power that is present even if you don’t have a million plugins installed.
Digital tools were not available at the time. ↩︎