Tinderbox Forum

A Tinderbox Zettelkasten starter file

Thank you for that confirmation.

Dear talazem,
Thank you for sharing your nice Zettelkasten starter file.
I have been studying your starter file for the past few months.

I usually use org-roam in Emacs 27.2 to create note files with the same functionality as the Zettelkasten method.

Back to the main topic.
Please forgive me for asking such a boring question like a newbie.
I do not understand how to use “## Connections ##” and “## Literature ##” in your pt_Note.
How do you use these two places?
If you could unpack an example explanation of how you use them, I would be very happy.
Thx and regards, WAKAMATSU kunimtsu (from Japan)

Some thoughts. I love the Zettlelkasten framework and ideals, e.g. each “zettle” (aka your note) should be reduced to its atomic essence (1 idea, cited, in your own words). You can then curate these by linking, refining, etc. Which will ultimately lead to the next two steps in the 4C process, “create” and “contribute”.

When it comes to the Zettlekasten file I think it offers some amazing training wheels, but it does come with a lot of, IMO, unnecessary overhead. It feels like we’re applying a 1950 process to 2020 technology.
For example, at least in my workflow, I find generating a unique ZettleID unnecessary, as this ID already exists in the system, $ID. There are other affordances that I think can be stripped away in the workflow to create purity in an end-to-end workflow that is capable of leveraging any number of apps along each stage of the workflow.

Please, don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing the Zettlekasten file at all, it was instrumental in my own learning and development. But, when applying Decarte’s four rules to knowledge management–1) Accept as true only what is indubitable, 2) divide every question into manageable parts, 3) begin with the simplest issues and ascend to the more complex, 4) review frequently enough to retain the whole argument at once (Kemerling, 2011)–it is important to only bring forward those methods that are relevant for today’s context.

I’ve been working on the re-envisioned end-to-end flow for about 10 months now, presented a high-level review in last week’s meetup. More recently, I’ve been working with @lfriedla to refine it and plan on teaching it with @bmgphd in a more formal setting soon. And, as always, a huge shout-out must be given to @mwra for which none of my work would be possible were it not for his efforts and friendship.

Kemerling, G. (2011, November 12). Descartes: Method . Descartes: Method


Dear satikusala,
Thank you for your point of view about Zettelkasten.

Are you, by any chance, Mr. Talazem himself?
Even if you are not, how would you go about using “## Connections ##” and “## Literature ##” in your pt_Note.
If you have a view on the question here, I would like to hear your interpretation.

There are few opportunities for a musician to ask a question directly to the “composer himself”.
This is because, as you know, most of them are already dead.
Fortunately, I had a teacher by my side who was able to talk directly with Debussy and Ravel about their premieres, so I know some of the modern French composers and their ideas about music. This time, I was able to talk to the creator himself, so I asked him a question that could be called a foolish question.

I do not want you to misunderstand that I am not arguing against you.
It is just a question I have as a professional classical musician.

As a professional flutist, what I strive for every day is how to get closer to the essence of music. That is why I practice every day, even though almost 75 years old.
The method is the same as that of Descartes, I was learnd from my teacher, Maestro Moyse. Of course, the fact that they are both French may have contributed to this.
In terms of knowledge management, “musician’s thinking” cannot open the door to the depths of “true music” and “music itself” without using the same system of thinking.

My question here is the equivalent of a “performer’s” question to a “composer’s” question: "Why did you use these notes in this piece?
That is, "Why did you use this note in this piece?

Even if it is a question about unique ZettleID, it is the duty of the performer to “know what it means”.

For me, the Zettlelkasten framework is reduced when I play music.
If it is not reduced, it is “mere knowledge” and “something useless”,
Maestro Moyse taught me this.
I have been taking notes using cards, like the Zettelkasten, to learn music since 1964.
In the 1970s, I spent time in Europe and the U.S. systematizing what I had learned from Maestoro Moyse, using the card system. At the same time, I used this musical “wisdom” as a member of an orchestra playing the flute.
Thx and regards, WAKAMATSU

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Hi @WAKAMATSU-san, what an eloquent response. Thank you so much for taking the time.

Let me be a bit clearer about my comment. I love the essence of the Zettlekasten process, and the method of creating an “atomic idea” in your own words, citing it, giving it an ID number, and then linking and curating it. I think is the most important knowledge I’ve learned in the last 4 years. My point was not to criticize the Zettlekasten process itself, but the idea that we would need to implement it, and all the physical process of it, in Tinderbox. My point is that you don’t need to do this, and in fact, it is problematic if you do. I equate doing this to the practice in the 1990s where marketers took their printed brochures and catalogs and tried to religiously reproduce the experience of them on the Internet. It did not work. It was not until they embraced the uniqueness of the Internet and moved away from their perception of how a brochure or catalog was to be reproduced did the Internet really take off. I’d say this for the iPhone as well. When Jobs launched the iPhone he said that marketers would not need to change their websites, that it would just work. We quickly found that this was not the case and specialists in mobile web and apps appeared.

So, my point is that we can take the spirit of the Zettlekasten process and drop the physical trappings and hand-coded processes when we bring this spirit to Tinderbox. If we’re successful in doing this we get the best of both worlds, the vastness of Zettlekasten meta-cognition thinking and Tinderbox meta-cognition management.

Again, I refer to my point of the ZettleID. There is no need to create a ZettleID attribute in Tinderbox and bear all the overhead of processing and maintaining it. The spirit of the ZettleID is to have a unique idea number for every idea/note. We’ll, Tinderbox does this already, it is the $ID attribute. Every note gets a unique ID the instant you create the note. You don’t need to create another one. Doing so is redundant and wasteful if you’re just doing it for the purposes of having an ID. If you have another purpose for it then that’s fine.

Regarding your story about getting to the essential things and finding true art, I am reminded of two incredibly important books. I am not sure if these are available in Japan or in Japanese. They are amazing and very relevant to our Tinderbox efforts of finding truth and what it means to be human.

The Truth Machine: The Truth Machine: A Speculative Novel: Halperin, James: 9780345410566: Amazon.com: Books
The FIrst Immortal: The First Immortal: A Novel Of The Future: James L. Halperin: 9780345421821: Amazon.com: Books

Dear satikusala,
Thanks a lot for your information about 2 books.
One day I will read these books.
”The Truth Machine” , this title reminds me of Koestler’s
“The Ghost in the Machine”.
At the same time, Mr. Halperin was aware of the content?
to Koestler’s other book, “Janus”. I imagine so.
Musicians are always repeating their own experiences of
the coexistence of the part and the whole.

This is a straightforward question.
What I am trying to find out is the following.
First of all, please forgive me for using musical terminology to explain this.

What is the meaning of “crescendo” in strong/weak marking?
How do you handle the “piano” in the strong/weak clef?
That’s all.

The following are questions of the same quality.


what does it mean?

What does



I am hoping that you can answer the following questions.
How do you use “crescendo” in a song? or
How do you use “crescendo” in a piece of music,
and when do you use “piano” to describe a scene?

These are not the kind of questions you should be asking.
If you do not mind. I would like to know what you mean by this.
I would appreciate it if you could write down your thoughts on this.

I have written about Tinderbox9 in another users forum.
{{Tinderbox vs. The Brain - #3 by WAKAMATSU}}
In the future, I would like to consolidate the functions of the other apps I have been using into Tinderbox 9.

I rarely cite literature, because I think it is “pointless” to cite other people’s ideas.
Of course, I do not read books that do not include a bibliography. In a paradoxical way?
At the moment, I am starting to read a difficult book by Zen Maestoro Hakuin called
“Kaïan Kokugo”(Kaï : X Greek Pronounsiation. An : an same as in English.
Kokugo : means native language ). It is a huge book of 2000 pages.

I am looking forward to your honest answers.
With kind regards, WAKAMATSU

Ah, yes, the asked and NOT answered questions…sorry about that. shame on me. These are indeed important questions.

First off, I looked up the terms to make sure I understood them:

cre·scen·do | krəˈSHenˌdō | noun (plural crescendos or crescendi ) 1 the loudest point reached in a gradually increasing sound ( Dictonary , 2020).

clef | klef | noun Music any of several symbols placed at the left-hand end of a staff, indicating the pitch of the notes written on it. ( Dictonary , 2020)

As for the references of strong and weak, I’m not sure what you mean (sadly, I’m not a musician, yet…maybe someday).

I sincerely believe that we’ve not come even close to theTinderbox crescendo, there is so much more that we can do, and the use clefs potential is nearly infinite.

On Literature

Outside of actually writing the atomic idea in your own words, ##Literature is the most important element of the Zettlekasten process, i.e. you want to cite where you got your ideas. Citing your ideas helps you follow the “chain of evidence,” i.e. from the source to the moment. It helps you become a historian of ideas, and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to find that one or more unique ideas that you personally can contribute to the world with confidence. How can you be confident? Because you followed the chain of evidence.

Properly tracking the chain of evidence has been a real struggle for me as I like efficiency and automation. I’ve spent the last 15 years + 11 months finding a way to automate my “## literature” process (i.e. before Tinderbox awakening and after Tinderbox awakening). I’m getting closer every day.

As noted, a key tenant of the Zettlekasten process is the atomic idea, which aligns with Tinderbox. For me, when you include ## Literature in $Text, you’re breaking the atomic idea. You’re mixing two pieces of the idea, 1) the idea, and 2) its references, aka literature, into one place.

The idea should be cleanly and clearly written in the attribute $Text so that it can be pulled in and used anywhere in the document. You can’t easily do this when you clutter it up by adding ## Literature along with it in the $Text.

What you want to do is create an attribute, call it anything you want, I use $CitationKey. You put your literature references in the attribute $CitationKey. $CitationKey is a set, since you may have one or more direct citations supporting your atomic idea.

Now that you have the values of the elements of your idea divided into their respective attributes, $Text and $Citations, you can curate the idea. You can look and operationalize it as a whole or in its parts. This is the whole point of attributes, IMO, in Tinderbox. You’re able to divide everything into its lowest level parts and then pull them back together, e.g. a lot like an atom with its protons, electrons, and neutrons. Together the three parts make up an atom, individually their their own parts. What this lets you do is pull an electron off of one note and use it another to create new matter, on the fly, with action and export code.

In other words,

Tinderbox helps you create new “matter,” new ideas, if you set it up in this way.

I’m still a novice, but citing literature is a critical skill to master, especially today. In an age of fake news and a loss of trust, citing your work helps build and reinforce trust. It differentiates you. It also, VERY quickly, cuts through your logic and helps you clearly see what you “know,” what you’ve “contributed,” and what’ve “borrowed.” Over time, as your thoughts mature and they become yours, and you conduct research, what you know may change, what you’ve borrowed will evolve to become you, and what you’re able to contribute will grow exponentially.

To get a glimpse of my workflow on references, take a look at the last couple of meetup recordings and my last video RE citing with Zotero (Becker, 2021a).

On Connections

After ## Literature, ## Connections is the next important step. This is the curation step of the 4Cs of knowledge management.

There are so many ways to create connections in Tinderbox. Making connections is all about immersing yourself in your note-taking, making the ideas yours, and incrementally formalizing, i.e. curating.

In the Zettlekasten process, the primary way was to link the ZettleIDs to the different notes, i.e. to make connections. But linking is just one way to make connections in Tinderbox. You also make connections with views, Taggers, Sentiments, Highlights, and action code, and other support capabilities like Smart Adornments. For example, Views help you make connections through visual cues. Taggers, Sentiments, Highlights and action code help you move, edit, transform, and yes link, not attributes values and notes. Again, all of this helps you incrementally formalize and clear out the noise of your connections and find your insight.

You can check out my linking video, that may help (Becker, 2021b).

Again, like with ## Literature, if you pollute $Text with a bunch of connection noise, your ability to use $Text elsewhere is diminished. You’ll want to move your connections into attributes. $CitationKey is a connect. Links are connections, Tags are immediate and potential connections, etc.


Everything about Tinderbox is about making your knowledge play/sing (collect notes, curate notes, create notes, contribute). As Mark pointed out in yesterday’s meetup (and as I’ve noted in my other videos), at the root level Tinderbox is very simple. You have a note. A note has attributes (every note has every attribute whether or not that attribute is displayed or not). Some attributes are operationally used by Tinderbox, others are not. Another way to look at it, a note is like a stem cell. It has the potential to be anything when it is first generated. As time goes on it matures. Maybe it starts out as a copy of its parent, i.e. it is a note that started from a prototype. Over time it because unique as the values of its attributes diverge from the parent, e.g. $Text changes. It can keep from the parent what it needs (inheritance) but drop what it does not want and become unique. Or maybe it was created and stands alone from the very beginning.

So, Tinderbox is your second brain, literally. It is your memory. It is your asset, that builds over time. For me, Tinderbox drives every aspect of my business.

It’s all an adventure.

BTW, I wrote this piece with Tinderbox, take a look:
TBX L - Response to Wakamatus san 8:22:2021.tbx (154.9 KB)


Trm- Crescendo

cre·scen·do | krəˈSHenˌdō | noun (plural crescendos or crescendi ) 1 the loudest point reached in a gradually increasing sound ( Dictonary , 2020).

Trm- Clef

clef | klef | noun Music any of several symbols placed at the left-hand end of a staff, indicating the pitch of the notes written on it. ( Dictonary , 2020).

Trm- Pitch

pitch1 | piCH |noun 1 the quality of a sound governed by the rate of vibrations producing it; the degree of highness or lowness of a tone ( Dictonary , 2020).


Becker, M. (2021a). Tinderbox Training Video 57 - Working with Tinderbox and Zotero - Training Videos. In Tinderbox Forum . Tinderbox Training Video 57 - Working with Tinderbox and Zotero
Becker, M. (2021b). Tinderbox Training Video 51- Linking With Tinderbox - Training Videos. In Tinderbox Forum . Tinderbox Training Video 51- Linking With Tinderbox
Dictonary. (2020). Apple Inc.


Dear satikusala,
Thank you very much for your
TBX L for Response - Response to Wakamatus san 8_22_2021.tbx.

I enjoyed reading the Conclusion in particular.

I am very grateful for all the detailed explanations.
I do not want to get religious here, but please just a little bear with me.

– Quote from you.
[[ (every note has every attribute whether or not that attribute is displayed or not). ]]

If you replace the word ‘note’ or ‘attribute’ with ‘Buddha-nature’,
you get a very Zen version of this passage.
In Buddhism, we are taught that everyone has the innate quality to become a Buddha.
In order to develop this quality, we do Zen meditation.
– Quote from you.
[[ It has the potential to be anything when it is first generated. ]]

I have the impression that here, too, we are going in exactly the same direction
as my view of Buddhism.

Is it my turn to answer your question?
So, what does a musician think of crescendo?
(Let me quote a story from my teacher.)
A foreign student, who could not speak a word of French fluently,
came all the way to visit his hometown.
He would return from Paris to his birthplace and then go to Geneve,
the other conservatory where he taught.
He would take this student from his native village of Saint-Amour,
through the plains of France, up a steep and winding mountain road,
to the right and then to the left, to his destination, Geneve in Switzerland.
As this student looked back in the direction he had just come from,
near his destination, he whispered, "Where am I?
"Kuni, What did this student say next?”
The next words from the student were.
Crescendo !!

[Annotations by Wakamatsu:]
(He could not explain what an amazing view! in French.)
(The student could not say a word in French to express his surprise and joy.)
Could you follow me ??

I have inserted a “Japanese translation” into your text.
However, in the result of HTML export, the Japanese is ‘missing’ in some places.
What’s going on?
I would be very grateful if you could suggest a solution.
Thx and regards, WAKAMATSU

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There is another cartesian rule that is as important as the others for the way I use Tinderbox and that appears in his Regulae ad directionem ingenii (1628), rule 6: “before tackling a question, collect randomly and without choice the first truths that arise”, statement that is often interpreted as the following advice: write down an idea as it comes. Was Descartes the precursor of the brainstorming? Anyway, Tinderbox allows me to write down on the fly what I was thinking of, then, ask myself if such idea is connected with another one or can be clarified from another notes that the Attribute Browser shows me.

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Just as a quick interjection, and excuse my short and unpolished post, but our second child has just arrived so time is scarce.

I would love to use the zettelkasten spirit more. However, I thought part of the Note ID idea was to also have a form of sequential connection between notes and or somewhat of a postal area code to show association of some sort. Note ID doesn’t give that. Or do I mistake the original purpose of ZettelIDs?

Thanks for your elaborate thoughts on not polluting $Text and using attributes. I am very guilty of this. I tend to export the note highlights after reading a paper into $Text with the bookends RefID appended for easy quoting. If it is a reference mentioned from yet anither paper I add that bookends ID as wellnor at least, if mire a referenced cooy the refs into $Text so I know which ones are being quoted. Occasionally, I explode such notes to have a bit more granular access to the quoted snippets for the AI /“see also” function of TB .

I admit the atomic note of insight is notnyet there. In medical research there is a lot of fact gathering initially sonI try to sort it that way and keep reference quotes at hand when writing papers.

I would love your thoughts on how to conveniently use attributes in that process or suggestions to optimise it generally.

Cheers and stay safe. Love the thread and thought exchanges here!

I’m not sure Luhmann really intended the NoteIDs to be more than an arbitrary unique symbol. But you can gain your desired property in several easy ways.

  1. Assign NoteID sequentially, using a sequential numeric attribute or in some other convenient way.
  2. Use $Created to get the date on which each note was created; an agent can easily gather other notes for that day, or week, or month.
  3. Link notes to the immediately-preceding notes, again facilitating chronological browsing.

First off, I agree with Mark, the $Created and some combination will get you there.

As for my thoughts, I am first struck by the word “conveniently.” This is the holey grail, once achieved, will have reached Wakamatus-san’s crescendo. It will be a grand venture as we strive for this (again, I’m drawn to the sunrise painting in the book The First Importal–read Time Machine first).

I’m getting closer and closer to it being more “convenient.” The goal is to have one idea in one place. So, you don’t have you remember which TBX file it is in, it is in that one, or you can link back to it. Luhman’s goal was not to remember everything all the time but to create a process that allowed him to rediscover his insight at the right moment and have those insights ready for use.

In October last year, I shared with the community how my Tinderbox files have effectively become my knowledge and economic asset. I how their input, my clients get the output and only the output. It is the input that has value; the output is just the. Presentation of that value. Luhman notes that people will often get this wrong; they think the value is in the output, it is not. Learning and creating happen at the come of collection and curation. Do collection and curation “right,” the creation becomes pure joy, and contribution (especially with Tinderbox) nearly takes care of itself.

So, long story short, I’m finding it more convenient to take the extra time to get the citation to write, drop-in rough notes, break them up as must as possible initially, and then incremental formalize along the way, which includes the creation, deletion, and merging of attributes as needed. I’m finding joy in the tinkering. Yes, it takes a bit more time upfront, but I learn more, and it takes a hell of a lot of time off the backend.

I’m still learning. I’m just now coming to these realizations. I wish I had them 20 years ago, but I did not. I have them now and am looking ahead with excitement and great anticipation for the future.

PS: I’d be happy to host and record a session of my workflow with you.

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That sounds exciting. So you mean you would host a Tinderbox meetup and walk us through it? I am always eager to learn about other people’s workflows to get inspiration for my own. I then Have to get through many if your videos again first. I am a still very superficial user and my clinical job only allows for bursts of research time. Or I should try and introduce TBX more into to daily routines to generate more exposure.

second, thank you for your thoughts. Maybe it is time for me, to invest more upfront but there is just sooo much material to get.

Also agree on the sentiment if I had known what I am beginning to know now. And found my way to TBX/Zettel and Mac earlier.

YES!!! Absolutely. Tinderbox is like any skill, use it or lose it. For me, it has become second nature. I spend 90% of my day in Tinderbox- oh, and Zoom…but I Tinderbox while Zooming ;-).

Sure… @bmgphd and I are actually going to form some classes, but before we get started we can hold a Friday afternoon session if you’d like. We’d do this separate so as not to distract the Saturday group. Or, if we want to take up one of our Saturday’s we could.

That would be absolutely amazing! The classes being formed and meeting up on a Friday pm. But I have to warn you, I am really inexperienced. what would you consider to be the essential videos of your excellent series to watch and study beforehand? (won‘t have time to go through all of them, unforgunately)

hope all is well! stay safe, J.

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Dear satikusala,
Thank you very much for your
TBX L for Response - Response to Wakamatus san 8_22_2021.tbx.
I asked those following question on 22 August?
I have not received any answer yet.
I am sorry to bother you.
I am looking forward to your suggestions on how I can improve.

I have inserted a “Japanese translation” into your 2021.tbx text.
However, in the result of HTML export, the Japanese is ‘missing’ in some places.
What is going on?
I would be very grateful if you could suggest a solution.
Thx and regards, WAKAMATSU

It may be that the way pandoc specifies the access point does not work in my environment.

Sorry, I asked through LinkedIn. I"m not sure what you mean by "inserted a “Japanese translation” Inserted where? it could be you copied in RTF that is messing up the export code. Not sure, but you could try clearing the font and size not sure.

Dear Mr.Mickael Becker,
Sorry for the lack of explanation.
I have checked the LinkdIn message, now.
I took a screenshot this morning using the one that changed the pandoc PATH.
Could you know where I drew the translation and the details of the tbx file?
I hope this helps.
Has the problem been solved by any chance?
I would like to compare the screen display with your original.

Respectfully, WAKAMATSU


pandoc PATH : /usr/local/bin/pandoc
I do no have pandocSP folder, I tack on new 2 folders.

Oh, see. I see, I suspect you don’t have Pandoc installed, correct?

If that is the case, then there are two things you need to, as the Stamp you’re using is optimize for using Pandox as the preview rendering engine and with a special twist I needed to add so that inline export codes would resolve in $Text.

Try this:

Set the $HTMLPreviewCommand=CommonMark. CommonMark is the default markdown engine in Tinderbox 9.

And, uncheck Markup Text.


If you want to fix the stamp, set

Try that, let me know if it works.

Dear Mr.Mickael Becker,
Thank you very much for your informations.
I have installed Pandoc.
I have been using pandoc for about 8 years now
to export from LaTeX to various types of files.
I changed the path to pandoc to
in the Action code in the Stamp that your Preview Markdown wPandoc.
I have also changed the other entries under Users to fit my environment.

My setting HTMLPreviewCommand is
/usr/local/bin/pandoc -f markdown --citeproc --bibliography=/Users/kuni7/pandocSP/ZBib/MyLibrary.bib --csl=/Users/kuni7/pandocSP/ZBib/apa.csl -t html
Respectfully, WAKAMATSU