March 26, 2009

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.