Asking ChatGPT for help with Tinderbox

On this note, I think we need to consider the ethics and legality of these AI models learning from the content out there on the Internet. They are basically stealing intellectual property to train themselves. It is their data to scrape and learn from; I think not. One could argue it is out there on the web and free. But, is it? Is the company or corporation running the AI model not getting around the advertising that publishers rely on to fund their work or the donation and patron requests to fund the knowledge work? I think it is. We as a society will have to make some hard choices soon on fairness and justice and the appropriate method of compensating people for their work. I’d love us to think about the idea of the business model to support these tools. Is it the “living wage” for everyone model? Is it micropayments made by the AI to every page that it scraps? It is micropayments made to the user when knowledge they’ve contributed to the system is used? A combination of both? I would LOVE to see the data provenance model of these systems. I’d love to challenge them to give proper attributes to the benefactors that taught them what they know.


ChatGPT can be used in Tinderbox as a companion who can suggest you something which you fail to see in your data. And since you can iteratively interact with it, you can get more and more interesting results. It can be like working with another person by your side who is very interested in material.
Relating to the code, I recently talked with my friend who is a long time professional programmer, and he said that it is surprisingly good at writing complex code. It not always correct, of course, but you can ask it several times to get it corrected by himself. Result is speedifying process considerably.
And I seriously think that no more or less complex software will exist without integration with such kind of AI soon. Maybe I am wrong but than Satya Nadella probably also…

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Yuval Noah Harari addresses some of this in his books. I think it was Homo Deus, but possibly it was Sapiens. I am reluctant to summarize his thoughts, but probably none of these issues are going to matter because these methods of making money are (mostly) going by the wayside. New input will be needed from research, etc., but eventually humans might not be needed even for that. AI is already making better diagnoses than human doctors, percentage wise as one example. He does invoke the possibility of a UBI, but there are also other options available to those who own the AI which might not be so favorable for the rest of us. Really good reading imho.

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Well, it’s not as if they are scraping pages and building a repository of (supposed) facts. Rather, each word in each sentence contributes — roughly — information that allows them to determine estimates of the probabilities of word sequences. The are not learning the semantics of anything. As @mwra pointed out, there is relatively little information out there on Tinderbox. Frankly I am impressed that it could produce stuff that is anywhere near the right ballpark. @mwra is also right that we can expect service to worsen. I can’t wait to experience a telephone robot based on ChatGPT.

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Something important is lost in all this wonderment at what amounts to a highly trained pet monkey who has been force-fed the internet. We have miraculous answers to random questions, but we have no information about the human(s) whose knowledge was mashed up into these answers.

The monkey also makes a lot of mistakes. It’s possible to tell the AI monkey that it made mistakes, and explain the mistakes to the monkey. The monkey has a short term memory problem, however, and soon forgets the new knowledge you just taught it. Example: the AI gave what a new user might think is an accurate answer for making a prototype, with two glaring errors. I explained to the AI the correct answers, which it then got right for a short while but then forgot again.

ChatGPT is liminal “intelligence”. Healthy skepticism about these tricks are important, else we begin to trust too much.


But this is just demo. That’s why it does not remember. Because it incorporates new facts and information only with upgrades issued by developers. They first filter again all corrections and then incorporate in next version. Also, it is not connected to the internet which is a big limitation in itself.
And yes, some other company (probably Deepmind) promised to give access to it’s AI soon which will cite sources. We will see a lot of variants very soon. And now just compare progress between Gpt-2 and chatgpt which is 3.5 and amount of time it took. Next considerable evolution will be probably even faster. This monkey will not require even decades of years to become like human in it’s intelligence )) Of course, I am not speaking about AGI or it is really understanding what it is saying. I tend to think that it is “Chinese room”. Which does not mean that it cannot supersede a lot of professions, including high qualification ones.

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The new GPT-4 engine seems to make more coherent answers about Tinderbox, here is what it knows about Tinderbox:

As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, Tinderbox is a personal content assistant application for macOS designed to help users organize, analyze, and visualize their notes and ideas. Developed by Eastgate Systems, it has a rich feature set that allows users to manage their notes in a flexible and powerful way. However, there might have been updates or changes to the application since then.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the key features and functionalities in Tinderbox:

  1. Creating and editing notes: You can create a new note by simply double-clicking anywhere in the Map view. To edit a note’s content, you can double-click on the note itself, which will open the Text Editor. You can add text, links, and other content in this editor.
  2. Map view: The Map view is the default view when you create a new Tinderbox document. It allows you to visualize your notes as boxes and arrange them spatially to create mind maps, flowcharts, or other visual organizations.
  3. Attribute Browser: The Attribute Browser is a powerful tool that allows you to explore your notes based on their attributes. You can use it to group, filter, or sort notes for easier analysis.
  4. Linking notes: Tinderbox enables you to create various types of links between notes, such as hierarchical links, aliases, and web links. To create a link, select a note, press and hold the Command key, then click and drag the cursor from the source note to the target note.
  5. Agents and queries: Agents are an advanced feature in Tinderbox that allows you to create automated queries to search, filter, and manipulate your notes. To create an agent, choose “New Agent” from the File menu or press Shift+Cmd+N. You can write queries using a simple syntax, which allows you to search based on note attributes, links, or text content.
  6. Exporting notes: Tinderbox supports exporting notes in various formats, including plain text, HTML, and XML. To export your notes to Markdown, you can use a built-in export template or create a custom template. To use a built-in template, choose File > Export > As Text, and then choose a template that exports in Markdown format. To create a custom template, you’ll need to learn about Tinderbox’s export codes and how to use them to generate Markdown output.
  7. Importing notes: Tinderbox can import notes from various sources, including plain text, CSV, OPML, and more. To import notes, choose File > Import, and then select the appropriate format and file.

Remember that my knowledge of Tinderbox is based on the state of the application as of September 2021. I recommend checking the official Tinderbox documentation, forums, or reaching out to the developers for any updates or changes since then.

P.S. More coherent, but it still makes mistakes :wink:

Ah well, maybe aTbRef’s author isn’t out of a job yet. :rofl:

The AI is impressive but I do worry about how errors are trivialised by boosters as ‘hallucination’. The rapidity with which GPT makes up bogus references—and doubles down on lie what asked for more detail—is depressing. Arguably, rather human behaviour. :roll_eyes:


Agree with every word.

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GPT-4 (updated version seems to be better, but still not always correct. Waiting for a plugin that allows searching the web)

what are the best ways for a beginner to start using Tinderbox?

Tinderbox is a powerful tool for managing and visualizing your notes. It’s feature-rich and can be complex, so here are some steps to help beginners get started:

  1. Understand what Tinderbox is: Tinderbox is not a traditional note-taking app. It’s a tool for making and analyzing notes, making connections between them, and discovering insights. The main feature of Tinderbox is its “map view”, which shows your notes as boxes on a map, allowing you to arrange them spatially and link them together.

  2. Start Simple: Begin with basic note-taking. Create notes, give them titles, and write some content in them. Don’t worry about advanced features at the start. Get comfortable with the basic interface first.

  3. Learn the different views: Tinderbox offers several ways to view your notes: map view, outline view, chart view, treemap view, and more. Try each one and see how it changes your perspective on your notes.

  4. Experiment with Links and Agents: Once you’re comfortable with basic note-taking, try creating links between notes. You can also start using agents, which are special notes that automatically gather other notes based on criteria you set.

  5. Watch Tutorials and Read the Manual: Tinderbox has a detailed manual and there are many tutorials online. These can be very helpful in understanding the more advanced features of the tool.

  6. Join the Community: There’s an active Tinderbox community online, including a forum where you can ask questions and learn from other users’ experiences.

  7. Play Around: The best way to learn Tinderbox is by using it. Try different things, make mistakes, and learn from them. Tinderbox is a tool that rewards exploration and curiosity.

  8. Take Small Steps: Don’t try to learn everything at once. Tinderbox is a complex tool, so take it one step at a time.

Remember, Tinderbox is designed to be a flexible tool that can adapt to your personal workflow. So the best way to use it will depend on your own needs and preferences.

Can you give me some more specific details about how to use tinderbox as a thinking tool?

Certainly, Tinderbox is indeed an excellent thinking tool. Here are some specific ways you can use it:

  1. Brainstorming: Tinderbox’s map view is perfect for brainstorming. You can quickly create notes and arrange them spatially, making it easy to generate and organize ideas. You can also create links between notes to represent relationships or flows between ideas.
  2. Concept Mapping: Similar to brainstorming, you can use Tinderbox to create concept maps. This is especially useful when trying to understand complex topics or systems. You can create a note for each concept and then use links to show relationships between them.
  3. Analyzing Texts: If you’re studying a text (like a book or an academic paper), you can create a note for each important point or idea in the text. Then you can use links to show relationships between these points, and agents to automatically gather related notes together.
  4. Project Planning: Tinderbox can also be used as a project management tool. You can create a note for each task, and then use attributes (like due date or status) to manage these tasks. Agents can be used to automatically gather tasks based on their attributes (like all tasks that are overdue).
  5. Knowledge Management: You can use Tinderbox to create a personal knowledge base. Every time you learn something new, you can create a note for it. Over time, you’ll accumulate a large collection of notes, and you can use Tinderbox’s powerful search and analysis tools to find patterns and insights in these notes.
  6. Writing: Tinderbox is a great tool for writing. You can create a note for each section or idea in your writing, and then use the map view to arrange and rearrange these notes to find the best structure. You can also use links to represent flows of argument or narrative.
  7. Research: If you’re conducting research, Tinderbox can be an invaluable tool. You can create a note for each source or piece of evidence you find, and then use attributes to track details like the source’s reliability or relevance. Agents can be used to automatically analyze and organize these notes.

These are just a few examples of how you can use Tinderbox as a thinking tool. The key is to remember that Tinderbox is flexible and can be adapted to your own needs and workflow.

Can i make different kinds of links that are visually distinct?

Yes, Tinderbox allows you to create different types of links that can be visually distinct from one another. You can customize the appearance of links in a number of ways.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Create a Link Type: From the menu, select Window > Document Inspector > Links tab. Here, you can create new link types and specify their color, pattern, and arrow style.
  2. Assign the Link Type: When creating a link between two notes, you can assign it one of the link types you’ve created. The link will then take on the visual properties associated with that link type.

This ability to create visually distinct links is a powerful feature of Tinderbox, allowing you to represent different kinds of relationships between notes. For example, you might have one link type for “causes” and another for “is related to”, each with their own distinct visual style.

How to implement the Zettelkasten method in Tinderbox

The Zettelkasten method is a note-taking and knowledge management system developed by German sociologist Niklas Luhmann. It’s designed to facilitate the creation and discovery of connections between ideas and to encourage the generation of new ideas.

Here’s how you could implement the Zettelkasten method in Tinderbox:

  1. Creating Notes: Create a new note for each idea or piece of information you encounter. Try to make each note about a single, self-contained idea. This is the equivalent of the individual index cards in Luhmann’s system.

  2. Linking Notes: One of the key principles of the Zettelkasten method is that notes should be linked to each other in a way that reflects their content-based relationships. In Tinderbox, you can create links between notes and even specify the type of relationship that the link represents.

  3. Note Titles: Each note should have a short, descriptive title that gives you an idea of the note’s content at a glance.

  4. Note IDs: In the traditional Zettelkasten system, each note has a unique ID. You could replicate this in Tinderbox by using an attribute (like $ID) to assign a unique ID to each note.

  5. Folgezettel: This is a German term used in the Zettelkasten method to describe a sequence or chain of thoughts. You can create a Folgezettel in Tinderbox by creating a sequence of linked notes.

  6. Index Notes: In addition to the individual idea notes, you can create index notes that serve as entry points into your network of ideas. An index note might summarize a larger topic or theme and link to all the notes related to that topic.

  7. Keywords: Tinderbox allows you to assign keywords or tags to notes, which can help you categorize and find notes later. Use this feature to add relevant keywords to each note.

  8. Agents: You can use Tinderbox’s agents to automate the process of finding and linking related notes. For example, you might create an agent that gathers all notes that contain a certain keyword.

Remember, the Zettelkasten method is a flexible system, and these are just some ideas on how you could implement it in Tinderbox. Feel free to adapt it to suit your own needs and working style.

Show me how to use links to move information from one note to another with the help of action code.

In Tinderbox, links are primarily for illustrating relationships or connections between notes. However, with the help of Action Code, you can create an automation that, when a specific type of link is created, transfers information from one note to another.

For example, let’s say you have a note called “SourceNote” and another note called “DestinationNote”. You want to move the content of “SourceNote” to “DestinationNote” when you create a link of type “Transfer” between them.

Here’s how you could set this up:

  1. Create a new prototype note: This note will define the behavior of any note that uses it as a prototype. You might call this prototype “TransferPrototype”.

  2. Set up a Rule in the prototype: In the Rule field of the “TransferPrototype”, enter the following action code:

if (linkedTo("Transfer").count > 0) {
  $Text(linkedTo("Transfer").at(0)) = $Text;
  $Text = "";

This code does the following:

  • Checks if there are any outgoing links of type “Transfer”.
  • If there are, it moves the text from the current note to the note at the other end of the first “Transfer” link it finds.
  • It then clears the text of the current note.
  1. Apply the prototype to “SourceNote”: In the Inspector or Attribute Browser, set the Prototype attribute of “SourceNote” to “TransferPrototype”.

Now, whenever you create a link of type “Transfer” from “SourceNote” to any other note, the text of “SourceNote” will be moved to that note.

Remember, this is a relatively simple example. Tinderbox’s action code can be used to create much more complex behaviors. And as always, be sure to save your work frequently and backup your Tinderbox document to avoid data loss.

How do I create concept maps in Tinderbox, e.g. create links between nodes?

Creating concept maps in Tinderbox involves creating notes and then establishing links between them. Here’s a basic guide on how you might create a concept map:

Step 1: Create Notes

  1. Open a new or existing Tinderbox document.
  2. Click anywhere in the Map view to create a new note.
  3. Enter a title for the note, then press Enter or click outside the note to finish creating it.
  4. Repeat these steps to create as many notes as you need for your concept map.

Step 2: Link Notes

  1. Click on the note you want to start the link from. A small circle, called the “link anchor”, will appear near the bottom of the note.
  2. Click and drag from the link anchor to another note to create a link between the two notes. You can link to any note in the same view.
  3. Release the mouse button to finish creating the link. A line will appear connecting the two notes, indicating that a link has been established.
  4. Repeat these steps to create additional links as needed for your concept map.

Step 3: Customize Links

  1. Right-click (or Control-click) on a link to open the link pop-up menu.
  2. Choose “Link Type” to set the type of the link. You can use the default types provided by Tinderbox, or create your own custom link types.
  3. Choose “Link Color” to set the color of the link. This can be useful for visually distinguishing different types of relationships in your concept map.
  4. Repeat these steps to customize each link as desired.

Remember, Tinderbox is a highly flexible tool, and these are just basic instructions. You can further customize your concept map by adjusting the position and size of notes, setting note colors and shapes, using adornments, and much more.

Also, keep in mind that Tinderbox has other features that can assist in building and managing complex concept maps, such as aliases, agents, and action code. As you become more comfortable with the basics, you might want to explore these advanced features.

How do I import outline text into Tinderbox?

Importing outline text into Tinderbox can be done in a few simple steps. Here is a guide on how to do it:

  1. Prepare your text file: Your text file should be formatted as an outline where indentation defines hierarchy. This usually means that top-level items have no indentation, second-level items are indented by one tab or a certain number of spaces, third-level items are indented by two tabs or twice that number of spaces, and so on.

  2. Import the text file into Tinderbox:

    • From the File menu, choose Import > Text.
    • In the Open dialog box, navigate to your text file and select it.
    • Click Open.

When the text file is imported, each line of text becomes a new note in Tinderbox. The indentation in the original text file is preserved in the hierarchy of notes, so that indented lines become children of less-indented lines.

Please note that the specifics of this process might vary depending on the version of Tinderbox and the format of your text file. If you encounter problems, consult the Tinderbox Help menu and documentation for additional guidance.

Just to remind future readers, it is better to check the available documentation than to ask ChatGPT for help.


An interesting read. As before, GPT is fine with topics so broad that you only need insert [app name] every so often. It is the style/fluidity of the prose that makes it seems human written and thus drawn from knowledge rather than guessed from other people’s acknowledgement. On more detailed tasks the mask begins to slip though the same fluidity hides this. the lack pf any sources means you’ve no way to move forward when the instructions are wrong.

Macs haven’t had a Enter key for some keys (it is now fn+Return). Some of the link-related UI sounds like its from a different app and the GPT mistakes replacement of and addition to content. So an impressive parlour trick but only for the most trivial of info. Presently, I think GPT’s best at doing general things like précis of text. I just hope that the overall result is to reduce people’s faith in documentation as we begin to find it difficult to tell apart human knowledge and computer guesswork. :slight_smile:

Does that include aTbRef? :wink:

Indeed! My though was less self-referring and thinking more about general trust in resources whose provenance is unclear. I think humans and GPT both make mistakes, but of different sorts the societal impact of that is as yet unknown (apart from enriching litigators).

I’m still playing with GPT-4 and would like to report that there has been progress in the accuracy of the answer given by the AI. GPT-4 is now able to search the web and write an answer based on information found on the internet.

Act as a Tinderbox expert. You will answer a question based on what you have read on the internet. Try to use the latest version of ‘A Tinderbox Reference File’ as a main source of information. Your answer should be accurate and include references to a web page that you used to answer the question.
Sure, I’m ready to answer your question about Tinderbox. Please go ahead and ask your question.
How do I import outline text into Tinderbox?
To import outline text into Tinderbox, you can use OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) files. Tinderbox supports the import of OPML files and can parse these outlines. Here are the steps and notes to consider:

  1. Drop or Paste OPML: You can drop an OPML file onto a Tinderbox view, or paste an OPML into Tinderbox. The source OPML filename is used as the name of the container holding the tree of notes parsed from the OPML1
  2. OPML Variations: It’s important to note that while OPML is a standard, some applications, such as OmniOutliner, have popularized the use of OPML with non-standard additions. Therefore, not all OPML files are the same, and you might need to read the OPML specification if you encounter inconsistencies 2
  3. Extended Attributes: If the OPML file contains extended outline attributes, as long as these do not conflict with existing Tinderbox attributes, Tinderbox will create a user attribute for each of these extended attributes. The default "text’ attribute in the OPML file is mapped to the $Name attribute in Tinderbox, and the non-standard ‘_note’ attribute, popularized by OmniOutliner, is mapped to the $Text attribute in Tinderbox, with ’ 'being parsed as paragraph breaks

and than I’ve got an error…

:rofl: I broke GPT.

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Me too.