In one of my last posts I pointed out that autolinks have the problem that they may lead to many unwanted links. This can be avoided, if you make all the title of the notes unique. Luhmann proposed a way to do this in "How to Communicate with Zettelkästen," proposing an organisation by numbers. "Every slip would receive a number, independently of the information on it, starting with 1, and potentially continuing to infinity. Since his slips were relatively small (slightly larger than 5 x 8 cards, or Din-A 6, to be precise), he often had to continue on other slips the information or train of thought started on one slip. In this way, he would end up with Numbers like 1/1 and 1/2 and 1/3 etc. He wrote these numbers in black ink at the top of the slip, so that they could easily be seen when a slip was removed and then put back in the file.
Apart from such linear continuations of topics on different slips, Luhmann also introduced a notation for branchings of topics. Thus, when he felt that a certain term needed to be further discussed or the information about it needed to be supplemented, he would begin a new slip that addded a letter, like a, b, or c to the number. So, a branching from slip 1/6 could have branches like 1/6a or 1/6b, up to 1/6z. These branching connections were marked by red numbers within the text, close to the place that needed further explanation or information. Since any of these branches might require further continuations, he also had many slips of the form 1/6a1, 1/6a2, etc. And, of course, any of these continuations can be branched again, so he could end up with such a number as:
21/3d26g53 for -- who else? -- Habermas."
It is unlikely that "21/3d26g53" will occur anywhere else than in a title for a specific note. "1", "2", "3" will, but that problem can easily be solved by adding a letter to the end or the beginning of all the titles, like "21/3d26g53-l", "1-l", "2—l", etc. This would make for a rather faithful electronic reconstruction of his Zettelkasten, very much like a described it here.
Groups and tags would allow greater control over how the information is represented, of course. While one still has to be careful about not accidentally renaming topics, this approach has promise!
1. See my Luhmann's Zettelkasten for more.