ZettelGeist is a plaintext note-taking system, inspired by the ZettelKasten Method.

The project founders have both been interested in taking notes long before discovering ZettelKasten. We really like the thought process behind ZettelKasten, however, and think it is ahead of its time by being “less is more” in its focus.

A key, salient feature of our approach to implementing a ZettelKasten system is not to get distracted by GUI tools at an early stage of development. The default assumption of our system is that we work from plaintext files. We are particularly inspired by systems like Jekyll (a static-site generator for building web sites) that uses YAML to organize its front matter and Markdown as the body. We’re even starting more simply by just using YAML without Markdown, although we might introduce it at release time. The idea is to focus on true notetaking by not encouraging the writing of large, complex documents (which aren’t really notes, right??)

So ZettelGeist is aimed at supporting the spirit of ZettelKasten, while ensuring that it will be useful in other domains. Our primary audience is the scholar who wants to write notes using a simple text editor and storing these notes in the cloud, e.g. in Dropbox, GitHub, etc. While we’d love to build something like the successor to Evernote or OneNote–even as a graphical client–our view is that no such tool should be developed without having the right core abstractions in place. Ultimately, the note is the central abstraction. Having support for metadata is crucial, especially for scholarly–or other serious–projects.

Stay tuned!!