Tinderbox Meetup - Saturday, June 10, 2023: A Discussion with Jerry Michalski on The Brain and Tinderbox

On Zettelkasten, I love that the system has many fans now, but I don’t understand why one would want to emulate a card-based coding scheme in an era of hyperlinks and metadata.

That said, my main interest is in making different people’s thoughts, notes and maps linkable to others’, even though we’re all using different apps.

So Roam, Zettelkasten, Obsidian, Tinderbox, DevonThink and other tool users: let’s unite!


I totally agree on this point. The key idea I’ve taken from it is create atomoic notes in your works that are cited, tagged, and linked…the go form there.

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Absolutely. :slight_smile:

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Ah, VERY nice!!! Love the “3rd brain” point.

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Funny, makes me think of Young Frankenstein “Abnormal”

Are you saying that I put an abnormal brain into a seven and a half foot long, fifty-four inch wide GORILLA?” Young Frankenstein, 1974.

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Unite, indeed!
However TheBrain poses some issues on that point. Pardon this longish post on the problem.

I am very invested in TheBrain as part of my workflow – nowhere near your million thoughts, but somewhere in the 28000+ range, with 74000+ links. I feed MyBrain from items collected via Bookends (which are auto indexed into a DevonThink db as well), and my goal (an unfulfilled wish at this point) is to use the power of Tinderbox to “curate” (in Michael Becker’s terms) material drawn from various parts of MyBrain to facilitate completion of various (but related) writing projects. The problem has been how to get the relevant thoughts into my TBX file. Not easy to figure out for an amateur like me, and TheBrain does not make it easy.

Over the last week or so (thanks to help from @archurhh and others in another thread on this forum), I was able to extract a group of thoughts (a few hundred for a test run) into an md file and through the explode function was able to populate my TBX outline. However there was a glitch related to either delimiters (or perhaps Brain links) that made the importing a limited success.

So the impression seems to be that TheBrain makes efforts to “unite” extremely difficult and therefore limited its integration into workflows such as mine.

Would be interested in your view on that (as well as any solutions…)

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By coincidence another TheBrain related video was recently posted – just 15 minutes or so. Using TheBrain While Incorporating the Best of Zettelkasten, GTD, 'Second Brain' and More - YouTube

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Melvin, thank you. Great questions.

A salute to your efforts to make TheBrain, DevonThink, Bookends and Tinderbox sing together. I’m really interested in the interoperability of Tools for Thinking, and Markdown seems to be a least common denominator — sort of.

Every Monday, I host a geeky call called Free Jerry’s Brain, where we tried a few ways of liberating me from TheBrain, but frankly haven’t gotten that far. Nevertheless, we love our conversations and keep going. Lmk if you’d like to join and I’ll send you the Zoom info (my e is sociate@gmail.com).

Oh, I have a bit over half a million Thoughts in my Brain, not a million. But over a million links :slight_smile:

The folks at TheBrain have very definitely been focused on making TheBrain contain and control everything. I’ve been trying to convince them to create an “outie” Brain capacity, so they can play nicer with other tools.

Thank you.

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Perhaps we can have @mdubnick demo this on the 10th.

Will try to put something together…

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Today’s chat log: meeting_saved_chat.txt.zip (4.3 KB)

Very interesting session!


Very interesting recording.

@j3rry you mentioned narrative – if you don’t know them, you might want to look at a couple of articles that Jerome Bruner wrote about narrative:

The narrative construction of reality and Life as narrative

Personally, I found Michele Crossley’s Introducing narrative psychology to be very valuable.

Am I right in my view that TheBrain is for collecting rather than for analysis? Except that it does give you an overview of a particular subject area, which might be useful for the purposes of analysis.


Am I right in my view that TheBrain is for collecting rather than for analysis?

With a small difference of just two letters, and to play with words, I’d say collecting and connecting: connecting very easily one thought to another one. But, when it comes to analyse — and not only associate —, one needs to think and write. Hence, if I understood it correctly, the question Michael Becker @satikusala asked yesterday about the tools used in connection with TheBrain in order to output thoughts and write something either an article or a book. In my experience, in a “psychic” or “psychological” meaning and perspective, I’d say that TheBrain mirrors the way a brain — I mean: “mine” — works when one associates. With the help of the Attribute Browser, Tinderbox gives you a comfortable interface to not only collect, but also think, analyse and… associate too at another level. To be extremely caricatural, one could say: “Tinderbox is designed for sollicitating your left brain whereas TheBrain is made to attract the right part of your brain.” But, I would not say something like that at all. It’s an analogy at best and it is not the best one. I’d say: there is here an interesting question that is related to the human-interface machine field. Tell me: “How do you feel your relation to your favorite note-taking tool when you work with?”


You might be interested to read this article: Why the left-brain right-brain myth will probably never die

It was written by the then editor of the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest. As he says, it has got a bit too simplified in popular use.

Thanks for your thoughts.


Completely agree.

Video to yesterday’s session: Tinderbox Meetup Video - Saturday, June 10, 2023: A Discussion with Jerry Michalski on The Brain and Tinderbox - #3 by satikusala.

If you go on the Brain forum they do use it to analyse and they have videos of how people do it. Jerry’s use was intentionally light on the features to reduce the drag on his brain. But the functionality to use tags, write and link etc are clearly there for analysis.

I do like the possibility of a single brain with the Brain. How well would TBX handle a single file for gathering thoughts and connecting them?

One thing you can do with a Tinderbox map view (and in other applications like Curio and Scapple) is to use positioning and spacing between elements/notes/thoughts to indicate how closely related those items are, or conversely, the “distance” between the ideas or concepts. I don’t think you can do that with TheBrain. I have used such physical spacing as a way of understanding my material from the days when I used to put scraps of paper on the floor of my room. I find it a very useful part of the analytical process.