May 04 28 2004

Weekend Webpage

Maureen Baehr has created a new Wiki page with notes on the recent Tinderbox Weekend.

Waiting for your remote membership package to arrive? It'll be on its way next week: we had to reprint handouts to meet the unexpected demand.

Get Well!
Hypertext pioneer Rosemary Simpson was crossing the street yesterday, when a car rear-ended the stopped car in front of which she was crossing.

She's got a nasty broken leg, and will be laid up in RI Hospital, Providence, for a week or so before surgery. She's comfortable, all in all, but annoyed that she can't use her computer and impatient to get back to her hypertext work. Get well soon, Rosemary!

May 04 27 2004

Notebooks Now

Eastgate's shipment of Moleskine notebooks has arrived. Good prices, too...

I'm not a huge fan of notebooks and blank books, but I carried a Moleskine through Rome earlier this year and it's great. It's small enough that it's not in the way, but it's there when you find yourself with an odd bit of time. I hate waiting in line. I hate waiting, period -- and it's always worse then you're someplace interesting, someplace where the trip home will come all too soon.

It was almost a year ago that I was at my mother's, visiting with Mom and Janet Kohrman, an old family friend from way back. We were talking books, as we used to do (my mother was a great reader, before Alzheimer's), and Dr. Kohrman had just finished Atonement, which she loved.

I finally got around to it, and I shouldn't have waited so long.

J Nathan Matias describes a lovely application of Tinderbox for experimental information architecture.

Planning with Tinderbox
This project is fairly large, and I need to completely write a finite set of pages before July 1. By mapping things out in Tinderbox, I am able to see a comprehensive list of all the pages I must write. Individual pages can then added to TODO lists and tied to email communications, appointments, and research related to the individual pages. By storing all the writing in Tinderbox, I am able to search and edit and spellcheck across the entire site.

Lisa Firke has posted a fine trip report on Tinderbox Weekend.

The whole weekend was like this, really. The best moments were those sudden glimpses into other people's Tinderboxen. I am grateful to Rosemary Simpson of Brown for unseating a very fixed prejudice against MS Word, showing me that the art tools (silly bloated add-ons) can be used to make witty cloud callout adornments for Tinderbox maps. The complexity and size of her research file was boggling and yet extremely graceful.

Elin Sjursen adds:

The seminar became something much more and deeper than "how to do cool stuff" in Tinderbox - I met a fantastic group of people who all are thinking about how to collect, organize, and most importantly, make sense of and analyze their data. They are all using Tinderbox in extremely different ways, and every single one of them brought some inspiring thought or insight to the table.

Jeffrey Radcliffe just moved to Tinderbox.

I've migrated this site from MovableType to Tinderbox overnight.
The motive force, of course, was the recent Tinderbox Weekend. Firstly, it proved that the tool could do what do I wanted it to, and secondly it gave me enough of a nudge to my skills to have a moment of Tinderbox satori.
I don't entirely understand how it came to this, but at this point I'm using Tinderbox for my personal, professional, and creative organization. To say that the tool is fascinating goes without saying. But interesting tools that are not useful in creating content and output are nothing more than curiosities. It's obvious I've found an excellent tool; let us see where it takes us.

His Tinderbox Weekend roundup is a hoot:

Every single person there was fantastic, and I regret not having the opportunity to talk more with everyone.... From an informal survey, it seemed that the basic "what do you do with this beast" exchange was the favorite.
Overall, an excellent experience. The bonus use of "reify" in a sentence was merely the icing on the cake.
May 04 24 2004


On Saturday, at Tinderbox weekend I showed a nice demo that Jay McCarthy helped put together -- a bit of javascript wizardry that lets you add outliners and collapsible boxes to Tinderbox exports. About twelve hourse later, Sunday morning, he woke up to alarms:

About 5 or 10 minutes later I started smelling smoke and heard my dad looking in the attic outside my room. It was now he started screaming, "The house is REALLY on fire. Get anything you can and get out!" He said this as he walked down the stairs and when he came back in after putting something outside.

A fellow weblog writer has a donation site.

Well, that went well. We're all exhausted, of course, after two solid days of Tinderbox immersion.

Tinderbox Weekend!

If you'd like your own copy of the handouts and sample files, you'll still be able to order a corresponding membership for another day or two. Corresponding memberships are a nice way of supporting Tinderbox, too.

I think the best part of the weekend was seeing such a variety of examples of ways people use Tinderbox. From personal todo lists to storytelling, from Lisa Firke's office organization to David Kolb's fascinating research hypertext for Hypertext '04. Not to mention Marc-Antoine Parent's hacking tour de force, moving from his email server to Tinderbox and then from Tinderbox to GraphViz, Melissa Chase's Egyptian archaeology, Rosemary Simpson's thought balloons.

Lots of fun, though we're all going to need to catch up on sleep!

Tinderbox Weekend!

Posting live from the first session of Tinderbox Weekend!

Live from Tinderbox Weekend

Elin Sjursen is showing us how to use prototypes to inherit key attributes in Tinderbox.

Live from Tinderbox Weekend
May 04 20 2004

May 20

Lisa Firke writes: "I love being married."

I do to, and today's our anniversary.

And it's also going to be the anniversary of lots of gay people here in Massachusetts who got their license applications in last Monday and can now be legally wed. It's a good day -- we're happy to share it with you.

Yesterday, I wrote almost 500 words, addressing the hottest topic in the blogosphere -- the value of software -- and starkly contradicting the general consensus.

Then, I wrote about 40 words about a nice little idea we had in the office.

Which post generated lots of weblog buzz? The post about moleskines, not the post about free software. Go figure.

Responses: James Vornov , Thomas Burg, Stephen Pieper , Ken Hagler, James Robertson

May 04 19 2004


Lots of Tinderbox users also like to keep a handy paper notebook. And their favorite notebook seems to be the Moleskine.

So, I spent yesterday working to learn about stationery, and shortly Eastgate will be selling Moleskine notebooks to go with your Tinderbox.

Vincent Flanders writes that "If I'm paying $700 for a software package, it better install like Photoshop and be as easy to use as Radio Userland or it has to kiss me where I can't. And send me flowers the next day."

I think this is wrong.

The only thing I expect, if I'm paying $700 for a software package, is that it be worth $700. If I buy a $700 program, and it promptly saves me $750, I'm as happy as a clam.

Free is not special.

I want the value of the software to exceed its price, whatever it is. The price point of zero is not more special than the price point of $736.29.

OK, sure, there's the nonlinear value of money. If the software costs more than your house, maybe you can't buy it, even though it would be profitable. But no personal software costs more than a house. Unless, of course, you're living outside the economy of the developed world: if the per capita income in your neighborhood is $350/year, your neighbors will have a hard time buying Photoshop, however profitable that might be for them.

Free is not better.

You want software that gives you the best return on your time and your money, the software that lets you get things done. If we're talking about software you use all the time -- weblog software, writing tools, personal information assistants -- the acquisition cost is nearly irrelevant.

Professor Clump works at Miskatonic University. She earns $65,000/year, and the University pays about $70,000/year for her office, facilities, support staff, benefits, and perks. She spends about 30 minutes a day, writing her weblog. What does her weblog cost? About $12,000/year.
Tom Clump, boy scientist, thinks that's a silly way to compute this. 'If Mom didn't have tenure', he says, 'she'd be bagging groceries.' (Tom, having been grounded after his science experiment burned a hole in the bedroom floor, does not hold his Mom in high esteem at present.) 180 hours at the local Museum of Fruits and Vegetables will earn Tom, or his mother, about $1,375.

It's not a gift

TANSTAFL: there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. And it wouldn't matter if there were, because zero is just another price tag.

There is nothing outside the economy.

Jill Walker is nervous because she wants to use a non-commercial license. Her weblog sometimes brings her speaking engagements, and so it is, in a sense, commercial. But, let's face it, everybody eats; it's hard to imagine any public act that could not have potential economic consequences. Of course, your writing may lead to speaking offers, employment offers, book contracts, lucrative Pentagon consulting contracts, and unexpected parcels of chocolate chip cookies. Everybody buys stuff, everybody pays, and in the long run the utility of everyone approaches zero.

But, while we're here, let's do the best we can. Use the tools, enjoy them, make beautiful things.

27 batters, 27 outs. What a day for the Big Unit.

May 04 16 2004


I'm continuing to play with style sheets, in part to prepare for Tinderbox weekend. Please excuse (and warn me about) significant breaks.

Want to choose some new colors for you weblog? I've been enjoying Jim Krause's Color Index , despite occasional annoying misprints. It's also great for choosing nice Tinderbox color schemes

Take a few pounds of duck legs. Put them on a big sheet of heavy duty foil.

Take some fresh thyme -- go ahead, more won't hurt, and stick it in your chopper along with some juniper berries, allspice, black pepper, and a little bit of sugar. Add some minced garlic and a little bit of grappa. Now you've got a nice rub. Apply to the duck.

Toss in a little more thyme, and fold the foil into a tight little packet. Put it on a baking sheet in a slow (300F 149C) oven for two hours. Maybe a little more. Let it rest ten minutes.

Crips the duck legs in a hot nonstick saute pan. Serve with a nice little risotto — I'm thinking of a red wine risotto with tart blackberries as a substitute for champagne grapes -- or some potatoes. Thanks, Sally Schneider and Clotilde!

During that two hours, write a few weblog notes.

I've been thinking about money and blogging today, in part because so many people are writing about MovableType's pricing.

I can't seem to figure out how much I receive from this weblog. But I can figure out roughly how much I spend — mostly in time. The expense number is large. And I'm quite sure is profitable.

What has your weblog done for you? This weblog, over the years, has done me lots of favors. It's taken me to San Francisco and to Arizona and to Europe, twice. It's introduced me to lots of interesting people. It's got me to write every day -- I know lots of people who pay their workshops and mentors plenty of money to do just that. It's helped me get in touch with some fascinating writers. It's helped people to get started with Tinderbox and with Storyspace, and it's helped them get more out of these tools, and that pays the rent and buys the groceries. It's sold plenty of TEKKA subscriptions.

"Thanks, Red!"

The evident sourness of the Movable Type community in the face of a small, predictable price increase is dismaying. I say this, even though I work for a competitor.

May 04 14 2004


Writing mentor Lisa Firke is getting ready for Tinderbox Weekend by cleaning up her paper files:

"Tinderbox is brilliant for collecting and tracking information, so I'm seeing if I can use it to make a digital key to my paper filing system...his is not just an exercise in what to purge and what to keep. It's how to keep so I can retrieve, because as any organizing guru will tell you, if you can't find it, you don't really have it.

Her problems include lots of files, accordion boxes, file drawers, skinny cupboards, trunks of tax records, and of course lots of writing.

"If I had all my files in one gigantic credenza, I don't think I would want or even think to make a key or an index to them. But with my files stashed in these different areas, I probably need some sort of breadcrumb trail to help me remember what I've stuck where. And, even if I don't, I could use the practice with Tinderbox."

"So I make a digital file that's a key to my paper files. I have four locations, so I make containers that are also agents that can search notes for the filePlace attribute. I also want to be able to track by projectName (as opposed to file name), by relationship (client, writing buddy, my stuff), and by genre. More agents."

Dave Winer on the new Movable Type pricing:

"Yesterday we saw people complain about spending $60 for a big useful piece of software like Movable Type. I paid $60 for a cab ride in Geneva. A good dinner is $100. A hotel room $150. You want the software, find a way to help companies like Six Apart instead of making them miserable. You've now got the tools to communicate. Use them well. Use them better."
May 04 13 2004

Moving Stories

Moving Stories is a fresh new storytelling site, a "a global snapshot of the railways' impact on all of our lives." (Notice, though, that submitting a story appears to irrevocably assign copyright to the National Railway Museum)

May 04 12 2004


I've been writing too much about politics lately. But yesterday's senate hearing remarks by James Inhofe need to be remembered because they remind Americans exactly what's at stake. He's the guy who complained about do-gooders:

These prisoners, you know they're not there for traffic violations. If they're in cellblock 1-A or 1-B, these prisoners, they're murderers, they're terrorists, they're insurgents. Many of them probably have American blood on their hands and here we're so concerned about the treatment of those individuals.

These prisoners, of course, have neither been charged, nor tried, nor convicted. Inhofe said this while sitting at the same table as John McCain, who for several years was a prisoner of war. McCain's captors knew that he was an insurgent, fighting an undeclared war against their homeland. They knew McCain had Vietnamese blood on his hands. To make such a statement to McCain's face, well, it's got to recall the beating that Congressman Preston Brooks administered to Charles Sumner on the senate floor in 1856.

Joshua Micah Marshall: I don't think I can remember a more shameful spectacle in the United States Congress, in my living memory, than the comments today of James Inhofe, the junior senator from Oklahoma.

To sanction beatings and killings of people -- soldiers or civilians -- who have fought your army and whom you have captured, is despicable. We hold ceremonies today to honor civilian insurgents who murdered Nazi soldiers and whom the Nazi's interrogated, tortured, and executed.

What are these Republicans thinking? Our declaration of independence is clear: we hold these truths to be self-evident. The Geneva convention is clear -- and is our sworn word:

Washington Post: The Third Geneva Convention, which applies to prisoners of war and captured insurgents, says that they may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind as a way to make them answer questions. The Fourth Geneva Convention, which covers people under foreign occupation, says no physical or moral coercion shall be exercised against them, in particular to obtain information from them or from third parties.

Bottom line. I think we'll repudiate these fools and criminals in a few months. We'll start writing the books that will explain to future generations how the United States of America, briefly, was provoked to madness and defiled its ideals. We'll set about apologizing to our friends abroad, we'll free the prisoners held without trial, we'll end the lies.

Or we won't. In which case, I think it might be time to think seriously about whether there's a place -- perhaps in a northern fjord or a vacant part of Australia, where Americans of intelligence and liberality, Americans who believe in freedom, can go.

Some corner of the world where we might tell the tale, and keep alive the memory, of the last, best hope of mankind.

We've arranged to get lots of extra space on Saturday, May 22 -- the first day of Tinderbox Weekend. So, we're going to move all the most interesting, general-interest topics to Saturday, and we're offering a special one-day registration for just $75.

Right now, I'm working on sample files and examples to illustrate different ways to use Tinderbox prototypes to save time -- and to reveal hidden structure in your notes. Come join us for an exciting Tinderbox day!

How many people read this weblog?

I think we worry too much about this question. The important thing is often who reads, not how many. As I've written before, there's nothing wrong with writing a weblog that only your mother reads. It's good to stay in touch. Such a nice boy....

But, sometimes, I suppose it would be nice to know how many people are reading out there. In the old days (a couple of years ago), you could get a rough estimate from your server logs. I'm not sure that's possible anymore.

  • Lots of people read this weblog regularly through the RSS feed. Surely, we can count those readers.
  • But, just as surely, some of those subscribers no longer actually look at this site in their news reader. Every hour or two, their computer checks for updates, just in case. But they've lost interest, and never actually look. We don't really want to count those readers.
  • Looking for unique hosts used to be helpful. But, nowadays, a zillion people might read everything you write through a single aggregator. And, let's face it, we also want to know who visits once a month and who visits three times a day.

There's a ton of information in referrer logs; any ideas how to mine them to estimate how many people read a weblog?

Tim Bray writes an exceptionally clear and intelligent overviews of today's digital camera market. Keep this link handy, for the next time you want to get a camera.

May 04 10 2004

The Six Morons

Army Times (of all places) calls for Rumsfeld's dismissal in a scathing editorial.

Around the halls of the Pentagon, a term of caustic derision has emerged for the enlisted soldiers at the heart of the furor over the Abu Ghraib prison scandal: the six morons who lost the war....But the folks in the Pentagon are talking about the wrong morons.

I've added a new room to my sketch gallery. Mostly watercolors, a couple of pastels, and a few experiments with Poser and Painter. (link updated)

This week's installment from Seymour Hersh, from the New Yorker, is now posted on the Web. Hersh can flat out write. His temperate, clear, incisive dissections of the entire Iraq story can now be seen as nothing less than historic. A Pulitzer seem to be en route, obviously. And you've already got to wonder about the Nobel Peace Prize.

Secrecy and wishful thinking, the Pentagon official said, are defining characteristics of Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, and shaped its response to the reports from Abu Ghraib. “They always want to delay the release of bad news—in the hope that something good will break,” he said.

Since everyone is refreshing their stylesheets, why should I abstain? Especially since one topic that's bound to come up during Tinderbox Weekend is using CSS in Tinderbox sites. (Nothing could be easier, but we're always finding new tricks...)

I'll try to keep the "old style" stable for now. Watch the nifty style switcher (thanks, Zeldman and A List Apart) for experiments.

I'm trying to paste some line drawings from OmniGraffle to Word. Somehow, when they arrive in Word, they have a black background. Any idea of why? Or how to fix this? Email me.

Those drawings, by the way, are for handouts for Tinderbox Weekend. We're going to be mighty crowded. Looking around for more space right now, but if you think you'd like to come, now is a good time to tell us.

May 04 9 2004

Tinder Tartan

New and made with Tinderbox: Colin's Countdown. 13 days to the SFA Cup!

What's an SFA cup? Winning it is a good thing, right?

I've long wished the Spenser or Warshawski or one of their pals would tell us about some of their everyday cases, the white-collar scams and cons that must actually make up the bulk of their work. I expect that real investigators spend a lot of time figuring out what happened to the restaurant's cash, or who keeps swiping laptops from cubicles in 4E. Why not tell us about it for a change?

Parker's trying to do that here, I suppose, in this story about Bad Things happening at a Route 128 Enron clone. But the plot gets all tied up in knots, and before you know it the stock market play is tied into the sex ring and the seamy radio talk show host has got to be involved somehow. It's just too much.

You don't read Parker these days for the mystery, anyway. It's repartee all the way, and the repartee is just fine for a relaxing summer day.

A fascinating new approach to integrating the comic and novel, Diary of a Teenage Girl (by Phoebe Gloeckner ) uses illustration and comic sequences to give 15-year-old Minnie Goetze a physical specificity she'd otherwise lack.

That's important, because physical specificity is precisely what Minnie is about. This isn't a coming of age story, because Minnie's age has already arrived: she starts the Diary because she's just made a decision to seduce her Mom's boyfriend and she senses that it's going to be, you know, one of those really, really important decisions.

Minnie is very physical and very specific. She lives in San Francisco, on Clay Street, on the second floor, in 1976, and it's terribly important to her that you know exactly which window is hers.

Diary of a Teenage Girl
The natural medium for such a visual and sensually immersive story is cinema, but a screenplay might be difficult to pull off. First, it'd be a terrific vehicle for a great actress, but then you'd get the story of the actress, not of Minnie Goetze. Second, right now the film is probably unmakable. Minnie enjoys sex, and in Hollywood today women can't do that until they're adults. Minnie also enjoys drugs, as lots of people did in 1976 (and lots of people still do) and in Hollywood today you can't do that unless you die or repent. So, Gloeckner can't tell this story on film.

Gloeckner's career has chiefly been in comics and graphic novels, so that might be a natural. But Minnie's story rests heavily on internal voice and internal dialogue, and that's where prose is best. This innovative blend, somewhere midway between comic and novel, makes a lot of sense.

We get to know Minnie very well. She's fascinating, but she's dim, shallow, irritating, unimaginative, and she skipped school on the day they were handing out empathy. That's not an artistic crime; even if you've got a spare ticket, do you want to ask Holden Caulfield to see the Sox beat the Yankees? But, on balance, Gloeckner is oddly unsympathetic to Minnie. Perhaps author, knowing the story will be read as autobiography and not wanting to boast of her intrinsic wonderfulness, has tried to display for us all her faults in their fullest gloss.

The drawing is brilliant.

Elin, stopping by her local Starbucks for a morning coffee, met an effusive barrista.

Guess what! I meant to tell you this - you work for an AMAZING company....My husband picked up your card - and he was so thrilled to see where you are - he is using your company's software! For his writing! He loves it! He got a Mac instead of a PC only because some of your software is not for Windows!

Sometimes in Tinderbox, we need to refer to a note by name. For example, an agent might look for notes that are #linkedTo(election). Or a Web site template might ^include(the sidebar).

But what should happen if we have two notes with the same name?

The current answer: If there are several notes with the same name, Tinderbox will pick one of them. Probably the first note.

The (suggested) new answer: Tinderbox will first look inside the current note. If it finds a matching note, we're done. If not, Tinderbox will pick the first note in the document.

The advantage here is that you'll be able to build composites, where the note name describes its role. For example, an Article could contain a Caption note and an AuthorBio note, and the templates for the Article could refer to "The AuthorBio for this article". (There's good reason to expect that people will want to do this: see the classic paper on Spatial Hypertext and the Practice of Information Triage by Marshall and Shipman for some examples)

The cost is the added complexity of the search path. In my experience, fancy search paths often seem like a good idea and usually wind up demanding ugly work-arounds. Remember the old Apple poor man's search path in the resource manager? Wasn't that a delight? But here, I suspect that the (slight) extra complexity makes sense.

May 04 6 2004

Laurel on Design

In the new TEKKA, Brenda Laurel argues that research is the essence of design.

Designers argue passionately with one other about the object, process and goal of design research. But every one of them will tell you that research is a key — in whatever form and for whatever purpose — to making design a more muscular profession.

One of the real puzzles about the behavior of US forces in Iraq is that it's historically unusual. The kind of wanton, perverse cruelty detailed by Gen. Taguba, the trigger-happy checkpoint shootings, the rumors about beating old people and kids -- where does this come from?

Not long ago the 800th MP Brigade was a bunch of folks in upstate New York and West Virginia, and pretty soon they'll be right back at home. Is this the way they act at home? Taguba says the unit depended too much on a few people who were correctional officers in civilian life: is this how New York penitentiaries are run?

In the mythology, of course, Americans are supposed to be incapable of this sort of perversity. It's just the Germans and the Russians and the Japanese who do this stuff. That's false .

But, in general, when an American army has acted this way, it's been either incredibly ill-trained or incredibly frightened. Usually both. But in Iraq, we've got a professional, volunteer army that ought to be better trained than Napoleon's best -- we've certainly paid for that. And the casualties in Iraq, as terrible as they've been, aren't anywhere close to The Wilderness or Guadalcanal.

Seriously, what happened to Lynndie England this year? Last year, she's clerking at Wal-Mart, saving money for college, joining the reserves for a little extra cash. As far as I can tell, she doesn't even show up in Google before she's getting souvenir photos of good times tormenting Iraqi prisoners. What's she been through that she'd being doing this stuff?

An interesting side note in this Google-obsessed time: both PFC England and her best-friend, Destiny Goin, have exceptionally google-able names. Neither seems to have cast any shadow on the Web at all before this broke. Privacy is in better shape than I'd thought....

Kit Monkman sense word of an interesting project — a centre for narrative study at Shandy Hall, the place where Sterne wrote Tristram Shandy. It's called Asterisk*: It's made with Tinderbox.

May 04 4 2004

Duck, no Play

Last night I didn't get to hear Brustein's play-in-progress, Spring Forward Fall Back. Argh.

So, I wound up making Sally Schneider's Revisionist Duck Confit and Clotilde's potatoes Saladaises. The duck starts with four duck legs, rubbed with a mixture of salt, lots of fresh thyme, juniper berries, garlic, and bay leaf. They're tightly wrapped in foil, and spent upwards of two hours in a slow (300°F) oven. Then you let them rest for ten minutes, unwrap them, and plop them in a hot non-stick saute pan for about 5 minutes on each side to make them lean and crispy.

Today, Parisian Clotilde has a recipe for banana bread, derived from my local vegetable market. It's a small world.

Last week, after getting MapView running in Tinderbox/Windows, I dropped by the wine store and asked them to pick out a selection of inexpensive 2000 Bordeaux. (One of the discoveries of the France trip last year was that Bordeaux isn't necessarily grand and expensive) So, with the duck, we tried a bottle of Chateau Lagrange Les Tours, which seems to me to be a lovely $8 wine.

Duck, no Play

Now that the President has deplored prisoner abuse in Iraq, and the generals have told us "this isn't typical", what are we going to do? It's going to take something pretty spectacular to make up for this. Like a generation of Peace Corps workers who, if they are lucky, might someday hear: "You Americans aren't all monsters, after all."

For example, shouldn't our intelligence analysts be seeking out every prisoner in those pictures? Shouldn't a senior government official offer each of them a personal apology?

And, even if this isn't widespread, how will we convince a skeptical world? How about opening those prisons to inspectors -- lots of inspectors, from the press, from Amnesty International, from the Red Crescent? Sure, we'd lose some intelligence opportunities, but isn't that water over the dam right now?

Doug Miller needs to craft electronic notebooks to assist real-estate clients. He compares Notetaker, Circus Ponies Notebook, and Tinderbox:

Overall, Notetaker and Notebook appear to be solid applications for basic note taking, and were worth taking a look at in their latest versions. Neither, however, can yet measure up to the flexibility and power of Tinderbox.

Ted Goranson continues his magisterial discussion of outliners, too, in the 8th (!) installment of the series.

Woody Allen quipped that 90% of success is just showing up.

At Alwin Hawkins's last performance review, he proposed to give a series of lectures. "I'm going to hold you to that," says his supervisor. But Alwin is undaunted, because this is an easy goal:

People at work still don't 'get' the weblog thing, but it's my secret weapon. I snag all kinds of interesting references into different Tinderbox files every day, along with the weblog commentary. Scanning for patterns, I think I'll be able to come up with some interesting mashups that will make for an interesting presentation or six.

At first, I thought this anecdote was just another example of Alwin's way with words, but it's more than that: simply having Tinderbox handy as a place to store ideas, and as a place to find and organize them later, is terrifically valuable.

That's especially true when you have important commitments piled on plain old commitments piled on obligations, requirements, expectations, and necessities. A lecture series that's written into your performance review is a commitment, but Alwin has one of those life-and-death jobs, and that's another order of commitment. Getting something in your weblog every day a different kind of commitment.

The challenge isn't the schedule. The challenge is knowing about all your promises, and remembering the things you need to do to prepare to meet those promises. An elaborate calendar isn't the answer. Writing stuff down, in a place where you can find it, organize it, and share it -- that's a big part of remembering to show up.

The hard part of using a digital camera for work is knowing what you might want to photograph. Derrick Story covers this nicely in the new Tekka: Digital Storytelling for Conferences and Big Events.

No, we don't want to see more dim, fuzzy pictures in which a microscopic key note speaker is barely visible from the second balcony. But we do want pictures: that's as true for your Trip Report after a business conference as anywhere else. Your company just spent a couple of grand, paying you to fly somewhere else; the trip report's the product that gives this expense a hope of lasting payoff within the company. Images, used wisely, matter.

The key isn't getting a better camera or better photo ops with Bill Gates. The key is knowing which pictures you need to tell your story -- and remembering to take them when the story is still unfolding.

TEKKA: Photo Stories
Heathrow. Three hours into my scheduled five-hour wait. It was 3am back in Boston. There was WiFi for sale in the lounge, which doubles as a mall.

You might not discuss travel in your trip report. But, if you do, you'll be glad you got some shots of the trip. Same thing for the trade show floor, lectures, client meetings. Get the pictures you may need to tell the story, and give yourself the best chance of being able to tell it well.

The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh continue a string of superb reports on the real story of Iraq, with Torture at Abu Ghraib. Hersh names names.

May 04 1 2004

Flash slideshow

Not long ago, Zeldman was talking about Todd Dominey's nifty (and compact!) Flash slide show widget. It's a very simple download, and it's very easy to install and customize. (You don't even need to own Flash to use it)

Just for fun, I made a Tinderbox agent that grabs the images in my little Web gallery and builds the simple XML file that Dominey's widget uses. So, voila! Here's a Flash slideshow that displays whatever is currently in the gallery.