The purpose of the zettelkasten is not just to store notes. Rather, it helps facilitate thinking. A well-maintained zettelkasten isn't just a notebook; it provokes new ideas by bringing disparate sources into conversation with one another and the researcher. It frees the brain up from having to remember dry facts so that it can spend its effort on the more important work of generating new insight.
The zettelkasten served as a constant source of ideas and inspiration, ensuring that Luhmann never needed to rely on brainstorming or other idea generation tactics. It was a productivity system—a method for producing insight. As the zettelkasten grew, so too did its capacity to create new knowledge.