Tinderbox Forum

Growth of zettelkasten and note taking

this is reflecting my experience of people seeing something, getting interested by it, trying it with their problem, then turning up saying “I watched X and it was great but I can’t replicate it” which generally boils down to things seems but not guessed without the expertise.

I don’t think the overview and process explanation bellowing in the same video as I suspect it will simple fail on one of the now two aims. Rather, I was thinking—generally, rather than your video per se—that there might be scope with videos people find inspiring but can’t ‘just’ use to have separate videos explaining the how of the things seen.

I hope that explains my comment a bit better. To be clear, it’s not a critique of your video :slight_smile:

I didn’t take it as a critique so no worries! You do a lot for this community and value your thoughts. :+1:t2:

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Your video was fantastic, as are others. The one problem (for want of a better word) with Tinderbox and general tutorial videos for it is that Tb is so open-ended and used in such a personally tailored manner. Again, the videos from you, @beck, @eastgate and others have definitely opened my eyes to possibilities I’d never arrive at independently, and are in no way a detriment to the learning experience – quite the opposite. I just don’t know how you’d go about formulating a suite of videos that didn’t come across as “this is how to use Tinderbox” rather than “this is how Tinderbox can be used”.

Maybe that’s the answer (as already touched on to an extent above)? Videos presented as illuminating usage examples but not prescriptions. The ones I have seen already fit well into that category, but apart from @eastgate’s contributions they come from the community rather than the publisher. Once more, if I was the publisher, I’d be hard pressed to develop a whole series of them that conveyed both the depth and versatility while second-guessing the endless things people are going to do with the app and the way they’re going to do it. Still would welcome more videos, though.


For what it’s worth, I’m here from morning until late at night, helping folks with Tinderbox and Storyspace and improving the code.

It’s really hard to balance the advantages of another video as opposed, say, to a bit more machine learning, or a bit of UI polish.


It’s worth a lot. That’s the difference between buying software from a monolithic company and going with a niche supplier. The resources for sizzle* mightn’t be there, but the personal touch is.

*That’s not to say videos are just fluff. The one you did on planning for a political convention (link here for those who haven’t seen it) made me aware of techniques I probably never would have discovered any other way. But I’d imagine making dozens of these would be a massive timesink.

The training-specific resource I learned the most from is the Actions and Dashboards link in the Help menu. I would always point a new user to it and the Getting Started document found in Help as well. And of course aTbRef for more(!) detail.

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The videos should definitely come from the community and NOT eastgate. There is nothing more inspiring than seeing how people organize their workflows for improving one’s own, especially for an app with such mammoth potential as TBX. Check out how many videos there are from people explaining how they use Notion and Roam. The world is becoming a much more visual place which is one reason TBX is so helpful. Videos from the community would help push that message. I’ll stop preaching now :wink: Thanks everyone for all the work you do!

I’m really enjoying this thread, thanks to everyone here.

Zettelkasten is a much-hyped concept and a buzzword that I feel is often misused. There are forums full of people arguing over what is and what is not a true Zettelkasten and a plethora of shiny YouTube videos about it. I personally don’t care much. But, it’s one of those things that helps put a name to something people have trouble describing, so maybe it’s a net gain.

Watching videos can be a hit-or-miss method of learning about things like Tinderbox or Roam. They vary from low-quality, indecipherable, and basically useless to highly-polished, hype-driven SEO bait. But, somewhere in the middle are videos showing an interaction or use case that I may not have considered, and that’s when videos are valuable to me. I don’t care if some of the concepts in a video are beyond me or my specific use case. Almost every video I’ve ever watched about Tinderbox has given me some idea of how to solve my own problems or make better use of some feature. I used to argue that most videos should instead be a thought-out, illustrated blog post. This is often still true, but I’ve also realized that there’s no serendipity in text.

Videos can sometimes accidentally demonstrate some small but incredibly useful thing that would never have been explicitly mentioned in writing. I love when that happens. I’ve been using Tinderbox almost daily for at least a decade, and it still happens.

I gravitate toward 2 types of videos. The first, and most interesting to me, are those that say, “Here’s how I use Tinderbox to do X”. If I’m new to some tool, it’s very informative watching someone actually using it to do something. If I’m already experienced in the tool, it’s often useful watching someone use it in ways that I may never have considered.

It doesn’t matter if I don’t understand the specific Agents or Prototypes involved when watching a video. It’s useful enough if it helps me see what Tinderbox can do for others. I can take it from there.

Or, I can watch my second favorite type of video, those demonstrating some specific feature. Things like “How to use Prototypes”. In these videos I want to see the details. What do I click and what does it do? They’re not as fun, but they add to my toolbox.

I didn’t intend to go on this long, but this thread got me thinking.


Would you mind describing how you create an index note in TBX?

Actually that’s not it. Or at least that’s not how I understand it. Rather, the important step that turns “reading notes” into a Zettelkasten is the process of “curating” those reading notes: summarizing, expanding, adding context from other sources, and so on.

I’m still in the early stages of building my own Zettelkasten, but that “curation” step was what turned the light on for me. That insight and many more via Sönke Ahrens:

Good summary here:

Coincidentally, Sascha Fast wrote on the Zettelkasten forum this morning:

“So, in practice all the knowledge about the Zettelkasten Method is very simple.”

That was really the point I was trying to get across. All the methods I have tried in the past have sunk under the weight of too much complexity and intricacy. Now I look for simplicity where I can. But if I were to write that comment today, I would add that linking now seems to me to be important. In other words, it seems to me that creating a network that links ideas is a crucial part of the process.

I have a background in psychology, so what I have read of Ahrens (not much, I confess) is familiar ground to me.

Season’s greetings from “plague island” as Britain is now known! I may have to re-read Daniel Defoe. I have got myself a copy of i Promessi Sposi, but haven’t had the energy to dive into it yet. Let us hope for better times …

Yes, definitely agree.

I’ve encountered this a lot in books about writing. In order to write a “how to” book, you necessarily have to establish yourself as an Authority and impose some kind of linear order on the process. Which can be disastrous if someone whose brain works a different way tries to follow the advice literally. Less polished advice – video walkthroughs, blog posts, etc. – can be helpful precisely because it shows that the process is inherently messy and prone to happy (and unhappy) accidents.

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Nailed it on the head.
And, if you look at people taking Zettel notes, what all of them do is read some kind of pop or self-help book where you will find core ideas pretty rarely.

Applying a zettel method to a dense material, such as a scientific article or book would be a complete disaster because the reader will be doing a zettel for every single line of the article/book–because everything is relevant (critical).

A long prose (reading note) or some complex graph (like the maps in Tinderbox, even better in Scapple) is the way to follow the labyrinth of argumentations in these kinds of dense materials.

I can’t agree more!
I’ll share my solution to this problem: 1. I’m creating a container in TBX which I treat as a Zettel 2. While reading book or paper, I’m trying to recreate the main argument and its assumptions inside of that container using notes’ $Name and links as main building blocks (Map View). 3. In my Zettel I hold information such as Source, Research topic/question, Methodology, Findings, Limitations, and Areas for future research. Findings are the most important part of my Zettel, because…well, there are the reason why the book/article had been written at all and ultimately got me interested enough to read it.
Whenever I revisit my zettel, I concentrate on its “findings” part and if I feel a need, I can simply jump inside zettle to refresh my memory of what that book/article was (roughly) about.

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I’ve not used Scapple. What makes it better for this use case?

Scapple is like a white board. Sketching ideas in Scapple is much faster

I follow a similar process. I like to add attributes to the parent container and then an OnAdd so that any notes I make can be traced back to the parent. Here is a quick example I just made. Something like this:
TBX Ex. Mapping Arguments.tbx (97.9 KB)

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Scapple is essentially Tinderbox map view ‘lite’ (and its genesis story acknowledges that)—but no less useful for being smaller in scope. IIRC, it grew out of the Scrivener forums. Scapple stayed at Lit&Lat whereas another app emerging from that forum, Aeon Timeline, calved off as a discrete app.


Thanks. One more, what is IIRC?

IIRC: If I Recall Correctly

Thanks, still not sure what this means? Is. What is the history? Forum part. Googled a bit and did not understand what I was seeing.