Tinderbox Meetup — SPATIAL HYPERTEXT — SATURDAY November 12

Time: SATURDAY, November 12, 2022 12:00 noon Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Tinderbox developer Mark Bernstein will revisit and update approaches to making more expressive maps in Tinderbox.

PLUS: Bring your projects and puzzlements. Let the community lend a hand.

9 AM Pacific Time
Noon Eastern time
1300 São Paulo
1600 UTC
1700 London
1800 Paris
2130 Delhi

Beginners especially welcome!


Here’s the presentation file from the meetup:
map grammar.tbx (910.8 KB)


Chat log: meeting_saved_chat.txt.zip (5.4 KB)

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One thing that cropped in the chat during today’s meet was whether Tinderbox can export a map’s info (Copy View as Image) to SVG. Short answer—no. But, if you use Preview and make a new doc from the clipboard and save as PDF then use the free PDF2SVG utility people report you get a pretty good rendition.

Important: as noted in the call chat log is that font choice matters when using SVG. not that it matters overall, but the limitation isn’t Tinderbox but SVG. Then again the SVG font limitations aren’t, AFAIK, documented. But, if the above mangles your map’s fonts, I’d suggest trying plain vanilla fonts like Helvetica Neue and seeing if it helps. Put another way, using unusual/expotic fonts may be problematic if you want to export to SVG.

†. I suspect it’s more subtle than X vs. Y. Rather some fonts may lack sufficient metadata to survive the transfer. you likely won’t know until/unless your desired font breaks, In which case, you need to use another!

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Thank you @eastgate for your presentation on the grammar of spatial hypertext. Not only was it aesthetically pleasing, but it also appeals to the geographer/botanist in me: patterns and processes and all of that.

And because patterns and processes can really only be understood in the context of time and duration, I also value your references to the history of hypertext and the development of Tinderbox.


I’ve surface a few references from the chat and from the meet-up is case it helps others.

The relationship between map view and outline view placement: https://www.shoantel.com/acrobatfaq.com/atbref-back/index/MiscUserInterfaceAspects/OutlinevsMapInterface.html.

Christopher Alexander’s 1977 book on patterns in architecture, ‘A Pattern Language’: A Pattern Language - Wikipedia and https://www.patternlanguage.com.

Some references to early hypertext papers below. It is easily overlooked at today’s distance that a lot of important hypertext development pre-dates the Web and what many now think of as Hypertext:

Sadly the world decided the World wide Web was ‘hypertext’ and spatial hypertext got kicked into the long grass. Luckily Claus Atzenbeck’s group at Hochschule Hof, in Hof Germany is still doing some work, though the funding shadow cast by ‘web’ is problematic. Notecards, Aquanet, VIKI, and VKB are all already lost to us, in terms of there being no running copies. The Digital Dark Ages are here already.

Mark Bernstein’s own 1998, “Patterns of Hypertext”: https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/276627.276630. One of the most cited Hypertext conference papers (see, using some of my research data exported from Tinderbox). Pertinent:

  • ‘Tangle’, ibid p.24.
  • ‘Mirror Worlds’, ibid p.23.
  • The paper was, at the time, looking at what one might term ‘literary’ hypertext. Interestingly, looking for these patterns in public hypertext such as Wikipedia, proved difficult as I found (2017) as it turns out people don’t like sharing as much as they claim to do. :roll_eyes:

Nate Matias’s web-based map viewer: Natematias.com: Spatial Hypertext Web Publisher. Hie Emberlight system: Emberlight - J. Nathan Matias. Also see his HT’201 paper: https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/1810617.1810691.§

Extra Tinderbox map-related action code that doesn’t neatly fit into the visual presentation:

  • distance(). how far (in map units) is that note form this note?
  • neighbors() and 3 associated operators - how many links away is that note from this note?
  • Geographic adornments. Looks like they are returning to Tinderbox pretty soon. a user question was about the map source; it is Apple maps so if you’ve potential re-use issue (e.g. declarations as to source), look up Apple Maps.
    • Using an alternate map source, e.g. for historical maps, in the manner of the above would need communication direct with Eastgate as the online map look-up is not user configurable (at present, i.e… v9.3.0).

Composites. Composites are built-in but turned off by default. Experience showed that on-by-default wasn’t a good default. But, if you have the need… How to try composites? Happily, there are some built-in ones you can add to your TBX doc via the File menu. If you like the idea of composites, don’t overlook their OnJoin action. They have their own group of system attributes and special set of operators.

David Kolb’s works:

  • [Socrates in the Labyrinth: Hypertext, Argument, Philosophy](https://Socrates in the Labyrinth: Hypertext, Argument, Philosophy) and. Note: the work was written here Note: written in Tinderbox’s older sister Storyspace; Tinderbox and Storyspace shared the same XML file structure.
    • Impressively, Storyspace still reads the original Storyspace format from the early '90s. Using Storyspace v3, I’ve opened a original Storyspace v1 file of afternoon, a story off a windows format floppy—q.v. note above about lost hypertext systems
  • Twin Media: Hypertext Structure Under Pressure, 2004. https://dkolb.org/works/twin-media-hypertext-structure-under-pressure/.

Re Toulmin maps/logic. Argumentation across a map/graph was an early hypertext interest. For instance Conklin and Begeman, 1987, ‘gIBIS’, https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/317426.317444

Image Maps to SVG? See my previous post above.

There was mention of Apple’s forthcoming Freeform app (thanks @jarango). It is worth, that not all ‘infinite map/canvas’ apps are the same. Tinderbox’s gain is the power it can apply to what’s on the map. Work is ongoing to make support for embedded images better (in terms of file size and export) but in general, for my 2¢ Tinderbox maps work best with textual labels, even if the notion of the visual ‘murder wall’ appeals to many.

IMO, the spatial hypertext aspect of Tinderbox is its richest part and one where other apps are much more shallow in their offering. Also, maps are thinking spaces and not box-and-line diagram apps (q.v. OmniGraffle, Video, Powerpoint, etc., etc.). You can do the latter but it rather misses the depth of the Tinderbox tool.

More in the chat log. Sorry for the long post, but I didn’t have time to write a shorter one. :slight_smile:

†. I think early (pre-2000) hypertext papers are now free to access at ACM, otherwise try Google Scholar.

‡. I mis-credited the reference in the chat. The play on words isn’t for the better known hairspray ‘Elnet’ but to ‘Aqua Net’: Aqua Net - Wikipedia. Of course, having but little hair myself, it’s all a bit lost on me.

¶. There are some private installs of VKB (on early '90s Windows) but it was written in Java 1.0 and all installers were lost in server disk crashes. Even if Notecards, Aquanet and VIKI are gone, it would be great to see VKB again, even if only as ‘last of the line’. It’s one thing to imagine how an unfamiliar hypertext system works; better is to be able to try it, even if on emulation of old s/w.||

§. Disclaimer; I did a lot of (volunteer) background testing and documentation for Emberlight, though I had no formal part in it.

||. Interesting side-note on getting old systems running. To emulate FRESS (c.1968)—one of the first hypertext systems to run on generic commercial computers—on an IBM 360 emulator, folk at Brown had to remove available RAM. Interestingly, FRESS was used for philosophy and literature courses, getting its creator (Andy van Dam) into hot water with Brown’s senior staff: “Computers are for important work”. Times change …?


Recording of yesterday’s meet: Tinderbox Meetup: A Grammar of Maps on Vimeo