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The personal journal of technology journalist and conference speaker Randall S. Newton.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

TiddlyWiki and the Birth of Morphing, Cloning Blogs

I discovered TiddlyWiki today. After a minute of poking around, I had yet another one of those jaw-dropping discovery moments ("Oh my, this IS interesting") that seem to be happening more often these days. (Another one of those moments happened last month; I would have posted about Ajax long ago, but I'm still trying to comprehend [insert "woo-woo" music here] the deeper meaning.)

TiddlyWiki creator Jeremy Ruston calls TW "an experimental microcontent WikiWikiWeb... It allows anyone to create personal self-contained hypertext documents that can be posted to any web server, sent by email or kept on a USB thumb drive to make a WikiOnAStick." Elsewhere he calls it "a reusable non-linear personal web notebook" which is a much better summation. Ruston elaborates:

"A TiddlyWiki is like a blog because it's divided up into neat little chunks, but it encourages you to read it by hyperlinking rather than sequentially: if you like, a non-linear blog analogue that binds the individual microcontents into a cohesive whole. I think that TiddlyWiki represents a novel medium for writing, and will promote its own distinctive writing style."

A wiki, by definition, is a web page or site that anyone can write to or edit. It seems that TiddlyWiki, by emphasizing the personal aspect of wiki technology, has created a wrinkle on blogging that will be swiftly adopted as the technology matures. If you click on a TW hyperlink, the browser doesn't load a new page. Instead, the content swiftly (don't blink) re-arranges on the page, to bring your selected item to the top. This re-arrangement isn't based on your internet connection speed, but on the speed of the computer you are using (since the content is already downloaded).

When a reader edits TW content, it doesn't change the original but instead creates a new TiddlyWiki on the reader's website, PC, etc. Blogs with comments enabled allow for a bit of two-way dialog; by comparison, it seems that TiddlyWiki use could lead to blogs that morph and clone as readers create, then edit, their own versions.

There must be a million web programmers out there who are looking at TiddlyWiki and saying "why didn't I think of that?"


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