August 18, 2005
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One Big Text File

One Big Text File
Lots of interesting discussion at 43 Folders about using One Big Text File as a GTD Daybook, inspired by a Giles Turnbull piece for O'Reilly. Doug Miller has a great discussion, too.

This echoes a familiar old debate: do you want one big Tinderbox file, or many focussed files? (Starting with one big file is always great; the catch always comes when mass piles up)

I think Tinderbox is a clear win over big text files:

One Big Text File
Maps let clusters emerge gradually. Since you can always export to a big text file or XML or whatever, why not have maps and outlines, too?

The catch can be the particular file you're using, of course; if you are living in Tinderbox and you clutter the Tinderbox file up with lots of constraints and actions and stuff that you don't really use, then things can be slow and messy. It can be refreshing to pare back, or even to start fresh.

For example, I just built a fresh little Tinderbox file for the Big List of TinderWin implementation tasks. I'd been keeping these in my main Projects Tinderbox, where they were too detailed; to cut down on the detail, I'd been keeping some of them on odd scraps of paper. Odd scraps of paper are rarely a good strategy.