Tinderbox Forum

Collecting, currating, and creating in TBX and contributing with it vs in output tools (The 4Cs)

As I’ve grown to use TBX and now my computer better, I’ve been thinking about what I am now referring to as the 4cs of interactive knowledge making: collection, curation, creation, contribution.

Collection: collecting notes, ideas, jotting down half-thoughts
Curation: linking, connecting, sourcing, citing, and attributing notes and idea
Creation: getting notes to their atomic essence, driving to pure metadata thinking, cycling through steps 1 and 2, making sense, meaning, and new, refined, contextual knowledge
Contribution: contributing to the world based on your now refined, substantiated, thoughts and ideas, being able to do so through any means of publication: text, image, voice, video, or combination thereof.

What I find so inspiring about Tinderbox is that I feel released from the shackles of having to work in the output, as opposed to in the raw ideas and sense-making environment of Tinderbox. For example, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Jira, Salesforce, OmniPlan, Numbers, and so many more software for the masses force you to work within the confines of the output format, and thus your thinking is constrained. Don’t get me wrong. These are all wonderful tools, but they can and should be used at the end of the process, not the beginning, as I’m now personally started to think so that my thinking is not constrained. Moreover, as I dig into Tinderbox and am learning more granular control over attributes (metadata thinking) text and media transformation it is teaching me that I have so much more control over my output and the waterfalling of my communications, which then makes more communications more purposeful, concise, and impactful.

I’d love it if others would be open to exploring this line of thinking with me and provide support, counter, or other lines of thinking. And, of course, to talk about how each of the 4Cs can come to life and transform our work through and with Tinderbox.

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From my limited two weeks experience

I used to love mind maps, but the moment I will sit with a mind map for 3x times, it would become unruly in size for me, I kept trying to print it ,kept trying to use filters in multiple mind map , trying using different software is to bring my own brainstorming in control, and then I just gave up and then decided that I am an outline only person where at least ,it’s reasonable to control my output.

It is just wonderful, to see the connections in your own ideas against concepts which relate to me in different ways rather than being forced to in a single right way

attributes and agent give me a wonderful power of hiding things I don’t need to see now, as difficult as the first few hours with tinderbox are, I realised other apps such as obsidian & ROAM became convoluted with queries , MOCs and whatnot after few weeks.

Time is a huge concept in my thinking and I am able to wonderfully implement temporal tags which I have used in Omnifocus

  • I’m still mentally struggling with the concepts of having multiple files, but I think few more weeks with TB will take care of it.
  • I am also struggling with keeping a daily journal in TB , which actually help me see the flow of my day, evaluate choices and update multiple projects which I’m working on.

@satikusala, your videos have come at the perfect time in my journey , thank you . I don’t know if I’ve added anything meaning full to your post , maybe in few months I will :slight_smile:

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This post is AWESOME. You’ll see it referenced in a number of ways: 1) I’ve not heard the term temporal tags, will use it post-haste, you’ll see, 2) the multiple files thing intially can be a pain, but I learned it…I have 7 or 8 Tinderboxes open at any given time; also, one of my future videos will be on moving note, attributes and prototypes between files–your post will move that one up the priority lists, and 3) I’ve been working on the daily journal thing myself and have gotten it really dialed in (with the help of @mwra, of course)…video coming to a Tinderbox Forum near you. :slight_smile:

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Agreed completely - this is a key feature of Tinderbox which frankly I did not realize in a couple of false starts before I truly began using the software for actual projects. A number of the earlier videos from Tbx users emphasize manipulating the appearance of the Map View rather than working with $Text using Actions and Stamps.

I have long done Google searches for what I have personally termed a “programmable word processor” or an “IDE/Integrated Development Environment for Text.” I could never find such software - until I stumbled on Tinderbox and realized that is exactly what it is.


Thanks for reminding me of this idea again. I use a paper planner so I have no problem putting in reminders in future pages. I think that David Allen’s “Tickler File” idea has gotten lost in the digital transition, but it’s still true that there is a role for references and tasks that need to surface in the future. We forget why Merlin Mann’s website was called “43 Folders”.

Could you further define these terms?

Would you mind expanding on these a bit?

Programmable Word Processor” - I am referring to typical word processing functions with the ability to program or customize my own features. Macros or Visual Basic in Word partially allow this, but Stamps and Actions are much easier and more capable to use.

A lot of the previous Youtube demos for Tinderbox emphasized the Map View, which to my thinking is similar to mind map software. To me at least, the key distinguishing feature of Tinderbox is that you can use the $Text pane as a regular word processor and then use Stamps or Actions to add basically any custom feature you want. I do not know of any other software which can do that.

An IDE as you may know is a software environment for writing or editing or debugging code - for example Webstorm is popular as a Javascript IDE https://www.jetbrains.com/webstorm/. Tinderbox with its stamps and actions is to my mind an IDE for the written word or an IDE for organizing ideas.

Either concept expresses the idea that Tinderbox lets you directly work with your text or your ideas without being stuck with someone else’s vision of how to organize ideas. It’s basically the difference between a computer owner simply using other people’s apps vs having the tools to write his own apps.


This is my interpretation of Ticklers. It’s one of the key concepts of GTD (it’s root lies in having a physical filing system) . You basically keep a simple planner file with Days / Months / Special Projects , whenever you have a physical note which you wish to be reminded of in future or it’s relevant to you at future date , you simply store in the write tickler file.

How I use Ticklers is having a daily note available , and when I’m doing my daily journal or working in a project and find any note which is relevant to future date , i simply link up the two notes together.

Mr Merlin is a very well respected early adopter and used to run a website called 43 folders

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Technically Bullet Journal also shares some concepts of Ticklers to have information delegated in future for the relevant time , so instead of having hard tickler like above , we can soft dates (like temporal tags I mentioned ), so I still have notes titled below

next week
next month

They allow me to quickly link relevant information to these “ticklers” / temporal tags.

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I am a proud FiloFax owner.

Great line.

For me, the distinction is “Artisinal sense-making software” vs. “Mass-market puppy-mill software.” The forward does not constrain you, while the latter does. It is the difference between working in formalized output vs working through incremental formalization.


Much beyond that is the HTML Export feature - which frankly was totally lost on me until I started getting into the software. Typical mind-mapping software is only for. use by one person on one computer - you organize your thoughts but it ends there, without a sharable work product.

The ability to link that with programmatic HTML output is transformative.

Probably the best comparison where you can both analyze ideas and produce your output writing in the same software is Scrivener, but it is much weaker on both tasks.

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