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Prettier Tinderbox Maps

I’ve created a couple videos recently that demonstrate some techniques I use to make my Tinderbox maps a bit more aesthetically pleasing. It’s important to note that 1) as a designer; and 2) as someone who is encouraged to make more maps when my maps look nice, I value these tricks, perhaps, a bit too much. This is because some of them compromise the integrity of the data between linkages. This is shameful! (I know!) But alas I remain a bit shameless about it because I’m making maps that make me happy and the maps help me learn, so two wins, one loss… I’ll take it. Here they are:

Some example maps (click to expand)



Turning Reading Notes into a Tinderbox Map


A reader emailed me this morning and wrote:

I've been in two minds about getting Tinderbox for some time due to the steep perceived learning curve. Your videos helped a lot.

What you didn't show was your process for getting information/ideas into TBX, and then creating the relevant reference links to other notes, etc. Would love to see another series on that :) {hint hint}"

And so, in the same rambling and rough-cut way I created my original Zettelkasten & Tinderbox videos, I created this four-part series. Part three is the worst — my apologies — but also, blame André. ☝️

A few notes before we begin:

  • Y’all. This is very boring.

  • I don’t think it matters so much how I map the information, but rather that I map it. For example, a few days ago, I was recalling the three types of triggers in BJ Fogg’s model for persuasive technology design and I did so by mentally traversing the map. The spatial layout created in Tinderbox helped me remember that those three triggers are: “sparks,” “facilitators,” and “signals.” See? I just did it again!

  • I think it is exceptionally important to just start mapping, you can always edit later.

  • This is so 100% me and my own way. I hope sharing it enables you to find you and your own way.

.Nearly an hour to waste awaits. Please, do at least watch it at double speed.



Using Zettelkasten and Tinderbox to Document a Literature Review

As a designer, I developed a design process that I trusted in times when I was thrown a gnarly problem and wasn’t sure how to solve it. Trusting in my process gave me something to do toward a solution. It was working the process, never some brilliant stroke of insight, that got me through to a place of originality and creativity.

As a scholar, I must develop an academic process that I can trust for the gnarly problems I’m thrown (or more likely, that I create for myself). To develop this process, I have sought to understand how others discover articles, read them, take notes about them, reference those notes, and write something original and creative as a result.

I have realized lately that a process is emerging. I am trusting it and it seems to be working. In reciprocity for all those who have shared their processes for me to discover, I have decided to share a bit of my own. Warning: this is very rough. I sat down and recorded four parts over the course of an afternoon. There’s no editing, no retakes, just me talking through what I’m doing right now. It’s highly boring and at the same time, I’ve sat and watched many similar videos as I was trying to find my own path and found them invaluable.

The tools I mention in these videos are:

Nearly 45 minutes of walkthrough follows in the following four Youtube videos… enjoy?