I’ve just started a TiddlyWiki hosted at tiddlyspot. I’ve also added a widget for the rss feed it generates to the sidebar. Content is light right now: I’ve only written a couple of tiddlers so far. This should increase in time.

I’ve done this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the blog medium isn’t quite right for the style of research I now do: I no longer have the luxury to think in a linear fashion about one problem for an extended amount of time (I used to). I initially thought that the blog medium would allow me to recapture this style of working. Instead, more and more, I’m thinking nonlinearly about loads of little things in parallel. (This is probably really inefficient!) It is essentially impossible to write blog posts about these little things as, without extensive work, they lack any context. My hope is that the TiddlyWiki will provide a means organise and to allow open access to these contextless chunks of microcontent.

Secondly, I can use the TiddlyWiki to put all sorts of research-related stuff online which would simply be inappropriate in a blog post, eg., a definition I want to remember, a note on an improved proof of a result in a paper, notes on a talk, etc. None of these things would warrant a blog post, but all of them could be useful to someone, somewhere. I’m encouraged that Garrett Lisi has already mastered this approach.

Thirdly, I really like the way TiddlyWiki is so easy to edit, and how it provides such a convenient non-linear way of organising stuff. I only “got” tags a couple of months ago and now I think they are absolutely essential. 

I wonder where the future lies? At the moment all these web 2.0 tools aren’t quite right for the kind of theoretical open science that I’m doing: integration isn’t smooth between all the services (essentially, unevenly implemented widgets and rss are the only way these services can talk to each other). When I collect my thoughts a bit better I might write a bit more about content integration/synchronisation between web 2.0 services.


10 Responses to TiddlyWiki

  1. Dan Browne says:

    Wow! That tiddly-wiki set up looks very powerful – I’m tempted.
    Do you have any good links on how to set one up?

  2. tobiasosborne says:

    Dear Dan,

    It was amazingly easy to set up! You can get a free account from http://tiddlyspot.com/
    (they can be public or private)

    BTW. An offline tiddlywiki can be gotten by downloading the main file from

    Tips on using tiddlys can be found at

    I find it totally intuitive to edit, create, and organise tiddlers.

    You then need to set up latex: this is a bit annoying, you need to install jsMath on your local machine (in order that the tiddly displays properly when you work offline) this can be found at:

    This involves downloading some large files (approx 6mb). You put them in a local folder and download your tiddlywiki into this folder. To set up the plugin you need to “import from file” in the tiddlywiki backstage menu and point it to the jsmath html file. Then you need to upload the tiddlywiki back up. It should work fine from there and you can edit it offline and online! Latex works really easily (better than wordpress).

    I hope this helps!

  3. Dan Browne says:

    Thanks. I’ll give it a try.

    I won’t be opening my research notes with the world just yet, but I will use this for sharing notes with collaborators – I’m still a bit nervous about putting everything out in the open, especially ideas relating to student projects, though I very much support the sentiment behind what you are doing.

    I’m watching with interest how your experiment develops. Thanks for being a guinea pig!

  4. tobiasosborne says:

    Dear Dan,

    I’m happy to hear that you’ll be using TiddlyWiki as a collaborative tool: I’d be very curious to hear how that turns out!

    On everything in the open: I do worry about putting student projects online… I haven’t really gone down that road yet, and may never, as I am seriously concerned about PhD projects being sniped. Mind you, nothing here seems to have been “stolen” yet; I’m curious to see if anything ever will be… (It would surely be easier just to collaborate with me: after all, I’d share the paper writing load and publicise the work as well! 😉

  5. physicsandcake says:

    This sounds like a really good idea. I have considered doing something similar with experimental low temperature techniques. Good luck, I’ll keep an eye on the wiki.

  6. tobiasosborne says:

    Dear P&C,

    I would imagine that a TiddlyWIki is a pretty natural way to record experimental data, although I suspect the process could be facilitated by writing a script or two to automate the process.

    I would be very interested to hear how it goes!

  7. pat toche says:


    Does/Can TiddlyWiki @ TiddlySpot render LaTeX math if you don’t have jsMath on your local machine?

    I’m almost always online, but in the classroom I’ll be on the university computers, on which (essentially) no non-microsoft softs are installed. Can I pull up and use my TiddlySpot page with the jsMath LaTeX tiddlers from there?



  8. tobiasosborne says:

    Dear Patrick,

    There should be no problem pulling up a tiddler hosted on tiddlyspot or some other server with jsmath on any machine.

    However, if the fonts aren’t installed on your local machine the tiddlers will load slower.


  9. pat toche says:

    Thanks Tobias, sounds great.

    You make a good point about the fonts: in actual fact I have just noticed that my own laptop is missing some crucial fonts, so I don’t expect the university PCs to have them either.

    Do you know if there’s a way to “embed” some of the fonts into the TiddlyWiki?

    Cheers Tobias,

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