Mapping Your Tiddly Thoughts

By | March 20, 2006

I’m a big fan of TiddlyWiki, the personal wiki that runs in one file in your browser, and I’m very impressed by all the plug-ins and tweaks that the program’s users are introducing. (I wrote about TiddlyWiki last year in a column — subscription only, sorry — but have also included some notes for the piece here in the blog, including on this page (scroll down).

Anyway, TiddlyWiki is a free form database, not unlike an outliner, but with lots of cool elements that make it much more. (Yes, tags, too.) Think of lots of individual notes that you make in your browser, which you can find via ordinary search or by tags you give to each note; you can also view a list of notes chronologically — i.e. in the order you created them — etc etc.

But if you’re a fan of mindmaps, or PersonalBrain, where your information can also be viewed graphically, you might feel a tad constrained. Not for much longer, if a Java programmer and writer called Dawn Ahukanna has her way. She’s just released a “hypergraph plug-in” which creates what she calls navigation graphs (I’d call them mindmaps but that’s me). As she says, “I’ve had quite a few revelations with it already, using it to map my existing TiddlyWikis.”


It’s an early prototype and not as pretty as it could be, but this kind of thing is in my mind the thin wedge of a revolution largely ignored by the “social” Web 2.0. Tools like TiddlyWiki, though presently a little rough around the edges and geeky, mark a very useful exploration of different interfaces for personal, portable data.

While I think of it, another interesting new TiddlyWiki modification is the MonkeyGTD (Getting Things Done, to the few people who haven’t been sucked in by the David Allen book and self-organizing philosophy), which tweaks the TiddlyWiki interface into little blocks.

One thought on “Mapping Your Tiddly Thoughts

  1. Dawn Ahukanna

    Jeremy, Thanks for the write up.
    I do use Personal Brain mindmaps a lot and had used hypergraph to visualise exported mindmaps in a browser to share with clients, as documentation for developers etc.
    So it was a natural progression to apply this visualisation concept to TiddlyWiki. I got hooked on TiddlyWiki in Dec 2005 and have been playing with it ever since. I very quickly ended up with 8 different TiddlyWiki files (due to size and loading performance limitations) and got frustrated having to remember which file contained what I needed or spend time searching for information spread across these files. I’ve always used TiddlyWiki as a repository/map for my thoughts and ideas as opposed to just an information store.
    Hence the concept of “navigation graphs” was born. It is a visual means that assists me in efficiently
    1. Make abstract ideas and information tangible.
    2. Find information within one or more relevant contexts in way that reflects my thought processes.
    3. Quickly understanding the relationships (explicit and implied) between the pieces of information.
    This is quite powerful for me as this now moving into understanding and knowledge, not just retaining and finding information. I can visually understand the meaning of the information without even having read the actual detail.
    My ultimate goal would be the ability to visualise and easily share ideas in a simple and effective way.


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