Tinderbox is taking me over  4/4/05

I haven't been posting much here on t.org because my "hypertext time" has been spent on tasks other than readings... and t.org is supposed to be a log of my readings. However, Tinderbox has been making those distinctions --between reading and working, between working and hypertext study-- a bit fuzzier. This has happened in several ways.

Montage is a part of my work now

Montage is a part of my work, now. While I've been using palettes for some time in sophisticated applications like Photoshop, palettes serve a central window. It's a montage of a central text with auxiliary, modifier windows. Since Tinderbox Weekend, I don't tend to have a central window.

I've been using simultaneously open windows much more consistently. I keep an outline of my categories for this site open so that I can cross-reference new writing easily with links; definitions are open in another window all the time so that I can write a new one quickly when I realize I'm not being clear; since the references to further readings have been growing nearly geometrically, I've generally got a window open to my "pending readings" where I'm dropping URLs from the web.

None of these windows is particularly central. There used to be one privileged window in the center with an explorer view on the whole document, but since I've wanted to have more than one text window open at a time, that has fallen out of my routine. Now there are windows all over the place, and the connections between them are central.

This behavior has bounced back into the other applications I use now. I frequently have my mailboxes window open in Eudora now, and several different OmniOutliner documents visible at once for different areas of my work. This would have seemed crazy to me not long ago.

More like an organ than a piano

I've been using Tinderbox more like an organ than a piano. I've usually got several windows open, sometimes several documents, and I'm working in all of them. These URLs go over here, until I decide what to do with them, I've got a thought about that, which really deserves to be in map view over there, and so on. Sitting back and looking at it, I feel like I did watching my great-grandmother play an organ-- there are keys everywhere, buttons here, stops there, rows of keys where the hand most needs them, and then the pedals!

A major benefit for students working with hypertext (more on this in another post) is that it often forces you to self-consciousness about the structure of your thinking. It's been interesting to watch the structures that emerge as I work in Tinderbox. Which windows stay open? Where do I tend to put windows on the screen so that I can use them (or what's under them)? I've had several map views coalesce when I realized that I was starting to group some text windows near each other so that I could show them all at once and in a montage.

I've been using pianos, and now I'm making my own organ.

A rich if boxy sketchpad

Everything is going into Tinderbox, especially if I don't know what I'm going to do with it. Since I can write content and meta-content, put them side-by-side, and then have the meta-content never get exported, everything can go into Tinderbox. And it has.

In the last few weeks, I've started or used Tinderbox files for:

  • a revision of my old gaming site
  • this site
  • the beginnings of a job search
  • notes on an RPG that I'm in
  • random thoughts on fairy tale retellings, which have been on my mind
  • tutorials and templates I'm making for Tinderbox

Some of these will never leave Tinderbox, and others are for the sole purpose of making another (web-based) hypertext. The line between work and hypertext work is not so clear as it was.