I’m going down another rabbit hole, I know it. A while ago, Jack Baty mentioned some software that he likes, and put Emacs and TiddlyWiki in the same category in terms of how interesting, rich, and complex they are (if memory serves me right). I have to say, not many programs belong in the same category as Emacs. I tried to ignore what I read, but it’s been banging in my head since then, and today I finally took the plunge and decided to discover what’s so special about TiddlyWiki.
I believe, as architect and mathematician Christopher Alexander did, that some things and places have a special characteristic, which he called ’The Quality Without a Name’ in The Timeless Way of Building, and later renamed to ’Life’, “There is a central quality which is the root criterion of life and spirit in a man, a town, a building, a wilderness. This quality is objective and precise, but it cannot be named.”
Sometimes we sit in a particular location, and we can feel it; we might not know what it is, but there is something about this place that feels right. We look at a photograph, a sculpture, a painting — it can be anything, really — and there it is. What is it that gives something this quality?
My understanding is cursory, but at least partly, The Quality Without a Name comes about through the successful resolution of all the forces that are acting on the thing. Emacs, I believe, has the Quality Without a Name. Theresa O’Connor wrote nicely about this in her “Emacs: the 100-year editor,” in 2006. Does TiddlyWiki also have it? Can TiddlyWiki be used with Emacs? I see an ox-tiddly exporter available on Melpa already. That should help with the transition from Org-Roam.
I’ve gone from Org and Deft; to Logseq; to Org and Xeft; to Org-Roam; and now I think it’s time to take the plunge to TiddlyWiki. I’ve started by reading the tutorial Tiddly book Grok TiddlyWiki, which so far is excellent, and have downloaded and started tweaking a copy of tzk, a Zettelkasten adaptation by the same author, Soren Bjornstad.
I’ll have to integrate this into my calendar so that it does not disrupt all my other obligations. I can already tell that this, for me, can be the equivalent of binge-watching all seasons of a TV show over the course of a week.
So, I’ll spend some time on TiddlyWiki tomorrow, since it’s presidential election day here and several people have recommended that I stay home, and N and J are in Thailand, and I can’t wait to explore this program. After that, it’s back to arranging the house and getting ready for the rest of the stuff to arrive from Thailand late next week.