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Tinderbox 8 is released

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Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Apr 13, 2019 at 11:00 AM


I agree, Paul, that it isn’t a lack of engagement with Tinderbox users that is the trouble with Mark Bernstein’s approach. But he seems reluctant to do a better job of marketing Tinderbox to potential users. I suspect it is intentional, so he doesn’t have to spend too much time answering customer service questions to less serious users.

Do you remember when he used to organize Tinderbox Weekends where groups of users would gather in Boston or San Fransisco or London to share how they used Tinderbox? I had hoped to attend one when it came back to Boston, he stopped that practice. Maybe not enough people attended.

Steve Z


Posted by Paul Korm
Apr 13, 2019 at 11:17 AM


The Tinderbox Weekends were good—I never was able to attend one nearby, but I own all the materials produced with them.  I don’t know why they stopped—I would guess diminished interest from participants and not enough time.  Like George at Zengobi, Mark is the only developer for Tinderbox.  He writes on his blog about his involvement with the hypertext group in ACM, travels to many conferences and participates there, and he has his own writing.

But I’ll say it again, asking Tinderbox “why” is like asking a sheet of paper “what next” or opening Mathematica and demanding “what do I do”.  If someone asks “I want to keep track of my lecture plans for this semester”, Mark, or Brian Crane, or others will definitely offer suggestions and help and samples.  My point is, guidance for toolsets such as Curio or Tinderbox requires some initial idea from the user about where they want to go.

(There have been starter files published many times—but since Tinderbox evolved quite a bit over the past 8 versions, these files are often outdated.)


Posted by tightbeam
Apr 13, 2019 at 11:22 AM


It’s a two-way street. Yes, the developer has to put forth some effort to explain the software, but the user has to put forth some effort to learn how to use it, without expecting instant, friction-less comprehension. Anything complex, like Tinderbox, isn’t going to disrobe its secrets in a one-hour session. Maybe start with these screencasts, available from the Tinderbox site:


If you can’t figure out how and whether to use Tinderbox after watching some of those screencasts, then you may not know exactly what you want.


Posted by Dellu
Apr 13, 2019 at 11:28 AM


Devonthink, Bookends and Scrivener are all complex and rick applications. But less people complain about their complexity because the developers gave exhaustive manuals for their applications.

That is not the case with Tinderbox.
Come on Paul, you should not present Tinderbox way as a teaching tool for Tinderbox. It is not. It teaches you little about Tinderbox. I have read it from end to end. It is only conceptual/theoretical hodgepodge on why notes are important, and why we need to use Tinderbox to manage our notes.

I agree with Paul about the forum. It is very helpful forum. Mark Anderson is extremely generous guy. But, the forum never gives the beginner a starting point. The answers almost always assume some basic understanding of the app.

The “getting started” guide that comes with the app is a great startup. That thing needs to grow to a full user manual for TB to be useful and practical for most people.

My personal conclusion after using Tinderbox for many years is this:
it is great, flexible and amazing. It has the great potential. But, it is a great time sink. You will spend more time tinkering with the app than working on your problems. you don’t need any evidence for this: just look at Beck’s videos…how much she wastes fixing this image or that map; adding prototypes or changing the color the note…..it is just waste of time.

A focused academic would finish writing a journal article by the time I spend playing with Tinderbox. Tinderbox will not get me that job. The publication will.


Posted by Paul Korm
Apr 13, 2019 at 12:30 PM


I’ve read the same book you have.  All three editions.  It explains common uses for Tinderbox.  It is not a manual; no one said it was.

Dellu wrote:
>Come on Paul, you should not present Tinderbox way as a teaching tool
>for Tinderbox.


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