July 3, 2008
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“But She’s A Girl…” – a biologist who teaches at Birmingham — gives us a detailed look at her Tinderbox-based daybook.

I’ve tinkered with various ways of keeping a record of the various things I do, people I talk to or ideas I have throughout the day, including a simple little plugin I wrote for Textmate to keep a journal in a plain text file. That worked quite well, but it wasn’t as easy as it might have been to find things again.

Her approach emphasizes simplicity — the DIY ethos of trying with the simplest thing that could possibly work and getting on with the job.

Once I’d been using the setup I described above for a few days, I realised that it would be nice to collect my notes on articles I’d read in a separate place so that I could find them more easily. The infinitely flexible structure of notes meant that I didn’t have to create a different kind of note to do this, or even go back and edit my previous notes on reading. When I make notes on a paper I’ve read, I tend to first paste in the reference and the link to the entry from the Papers application, so that I can find the original article easily from my notes. So all I had to do was create another agent called ‘Reading’ which searched for notes with the string ‘papers://’ in them, which is the start of the Papers URI format.

In a rare example of productive comments, the first commenter is also a biologist who is using Tinderbox to build Grinnel-style field records. “Although the overall system is tedious”, he says, “Tinderbox might remove some of the tedium.”