Untitled notes as per Luhmann

As I understand Luhmann’s system, he didn’t necessarily give notes any title. It was enough to refer to them by number.

I want to test this, but the two methods I tried ran into problems:

First attempt: Use org-roam-capture-templates. Fail, because no matter what, it asks me for a title before proceeding even let me choose a template.

Second attempt: Use plain org-capture-templates. Fail, because I cannot name the new file according to time and date or any random number. Template expansions are not allowed in the filename!

UPDATE: As a solution, we can capture all untitled notes into one big file.

(setq org-capture-templates
  '(("u" "untitled note" plain
     (file "/home/kept/roam/untitled-notes.org")
     "* Created \[%<%Y-%m-%d %T>\]
:ID:  %(org-id-uuid)

If and when we deign to give the note a title, we can use org-roam-extract-subtree to spin it out as a separate file, although technically it’s not necessary to ever spin it out.

I predict the biggest problem will be how to identify the note when we want to link it from another note, because org-roam-node-insert only looks up the title, gibberish to us unless we remember the exact number of the note. It’d make sense to have a variant of org-roam-node-insert that searches note bodies, not just titles, or maybe one that provides a “sneak peek” of the content while we’re in the minibuffer. Also it’d be useful being able to re-sort the completion candidates in the minibuffer according to date created, tags or whether they’re already open in another buffer.

Just to help broaden your search for your own note-taking setup, let me add two things.

  • You don’t need a title.
    You get a prompt for title, and you can just skip it (how this is done depends on your completion). If a note does not have a title, Org-roam uses the file name to display in place of the title.

  • You can have a date and random numbers in the file name
    This is so even if you use capture templates. I do this; my file name is in the format of yyyy-mm-ddThhmmss.org. You can check the default template to see how this kind of things is done with the capture template.

For using the Luhmann style of numbering, I think someone in this forum has posted their method — if I recall correctly, it was manually done via title (e.g. 1, 1a, 1a1, 1a2, etc.) — EDIT: this post.