The Zettelkasten method, a personal knowledge management system, thrives on the principle that ideas, in their nascent form, are delicate and transient. Fleeting notes serve as the initial container for these embryonic insights, capturing the spark of creativity or understanding before it fades into the ether. These notes are akin to sketches or jottings, often hastily scribbled down, that embody the raw form of an idea as it first appears to the mind.

The ideas need to be digested: turned into zettels using a thought framework to connect them to the larger knowledge framework.

Once an idea is embedded within the Zettelkasten, its original form, the fleeting note, has served its purpose. Retaining these initial jottings can, paradoxically, be counterproductive. Their unrefined state and the sheer volume they can accumulate over time can clutter the system, making search and retrieval less efficient. They might distract from the more developed, interconnected notes that comprise the Zettelkasten’s core.

Hence, discarding these initial drafts can streamline the system, ensuring that searches yield relevant, well-developed insights rather than raw, undeveloped thoughts. This pruning process emphasizes the Zettelkasten’s dynamic nature, where the focus is on the evolution of ideas and the creation of a living, breathing knowledge network rather than a static archive of every thought that has crossed one’s mind.