Friday, January 06, 2006

Fiddling with Tiddly Wikis

While reading my Hot Potatoes interactive online development discussion group today, I noticed a reference to a new blog technology called a Tiddly Wiki.
"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 microcontent items into a cohesive whole." - Jeremy Ruston

That's the developer's official line! Jeremy points out that it is easier for people to remember things better if the information is presented in little bites. That is why advertisers use sound "bites" instead of a long narrative when they want you to remember their products.

I think the TiddlyWiki concept would be even more valuable if it is used by educators to create adaptive learning materials for classes composed of students with a broad range of learning experiences. With its internal hyperlinks, a Tiddly Wiki provides an environment that allows knowledgable students to forge ahead while allowing students who require more background material to drill down to obtain a comprehensive overview of key concepts.

The "tiddler", as the microcontent object is called, could be as simple as a word definition or as complex as a multilayered secondary article complete with inline images and animation.
Another unique aspect to a Tiddly Wiki is that it is a simple javascript-enhanced HTML file that provides the entire functionality for creation, dating, tagging, threading, and customizing the journal. It does not require a separate blog application server or central administration to function. You simply go to the main Tiddly Wiki site and click on the download link and select Save Target As and point to your hardrive folder and give it a name. Then, you can open your local file, click on the options link and enter your preferred posting name and you are ready to create your first tiddler.
An internally-linked "tiddler" is created by using the WikiWord format of two words run together with the first letters of each word capitalized or by enclosing a word you wish to link with two square brackets [[link this]]. When you save your first post you can then click on the link and you will be presented with an entry that says the linked tiddler does not exist and give you a chance to edit it to add the related content.
If you wish to embed HTML within a tiddler you enclose the HTML code with the tags [html] [/html].
If you wish to embed a linked URL you enclose the URL with double brackets and precede the URL with the word you wish to use for the link separated from the URL with a pipe. Example: [[Technology Times and Trials|http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~mharrsch/techtimes.html]]
If you wish to embed an image you can use the syntax [img[title|ImageURL.jpg]]
Example: [img[Mary|http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~mharrsch/maryborgblog.jpg]]
The new features also list the ability to embed Outlook or Gmail items but I haven't tried to do that yet. Tiddly Wiki is designed to accept plugins so there appears to be a wealth of other features you can add as well.
The Main Tiddly Wikis site:
My first Tiddly Wiki:
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