Tinderbox Forum

Tinderbox mentioned in this article

Paul Walters’s point, as I understand it, is not “technology-push” and is in fact user-centered. As I understand him, he was simply suggesting that Tinderbox is not complex or hard to learn; it’s simply large. Taking things step by step — going slowly — is a common strategy for mastering large things.

I, on the other hand, have been a fairly open advocate of “technological push,” and so I’m a more appropriate target for your criticism. With respect to this, Tinderbox is designed to take advantage of specific technical affordances — the surfeit of computational power and the plenitude of fast memory characteristic of modern personal computing — and to harness these in the service of everyone’s everyday knowledge work.

Rather than maximize the number of users, I try in Tinderbox to maximize its contribution. Much of Tinderbox is experimental, built because a user needed a facility to solve an important problem, or because I myself thought the facility would be interesting. Some of those facilities turn out to be widely useful, even though only a tiny number of users thought they wanted them; I’m not a fan of focus groups.

As I said: videos are in production. Stop by the Saturday meetup and you can help!


The fundamental problem I see here is a perspective mismatch. People who’ve come to knowledge exploration seem trapped in their very narrow vision and struggle to understand deeper apps. Speed of data entry is placed way above anything else. But there is much more to knowledge exploration than placing [[ ]] around keywords. That’s just recording things.

People who like very structured things will I’m sure like this because some structure appears very quickly. But to what end?

These new tools trade trade speed for depth, which is why I don’t see what they offer Tinderbox—except to people who want it to be more like apps they use more. Cui bono? Plus why is it necessary to have to write in markdown rather than my native language (British English for me but we’ve users outside the English-type languages). There is nothing wrong with markdown as a form of doing mark-up. But in this context it is just a speed trade off. Cool if only speed matters, but knowledge work needs consideration. Not does the fact that making notes in Tinderbox doesn’t involve typing [[ ]] and Markdown.

My own ‘work’ use of Tinderbox has been in research and looking at problem spaces where there isn’t obvious structure (or that which appears obvious may be incorrect/false) and the keywords for building [[keyword]] systems. Apps like Roam and Obsidian would be no use at all as all I get is a graph (which I can’t alter). No search beyond keyworld match, no metadata (attributes) no scripting querying or linking, and so on…

Not all apps have to be the same. Tinderbox (and Storyspace) have real grounding in this area and roots going back before the Web. [[ ]] links are just a data entry affordance and a nod to Cunningham’s wikiwikiweb; they are neither new nor a significant advance in this area but seem to being offered as such. I’m mystified as to why they are suddenly so totemic, but no one wants to explain but simply insist that this is the new way. Some evidence would help.

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OK, as forum admin/moderator, I’m locking this thread, which has ended up in another unevidenced to-and-fro about “why can’t Tinderbox be more like app X?” and is not helping Tinderbox users move forward in any way.

This doesn’t mean discussion of features of other apps is not welcome, but I would ask it be done with a broad approach and not get hung up on features, and acceptance that not everyone wants to to the same thing and in the same fashion. The Tinderbox community is very broad in its use (which is partly why uses cases aren’t as useful as assumed).

For those requesting ‘more/better’ documentation, please try to explain that in actionable terms. ‘better’ is in the eye of the beholder. Be conscious too that here you are asking fellow users to use their free time to answer your problem; it therefore seems fair to ask you to explain your needs.

For these reasons, this thread is now locked. Other threads are available …