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The Tinderbox Way Paperback – February 2, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Eastgate Systems, Inc.; 1st edition (February 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1884511465
  • ISBN-13: 978-1884511462
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #644,323 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


A delightfully original treasury of wisdom on the interplay of information, work and life. This collection of pieces is not a manual, but a practical guide to Tinderbox's special features and an exploration of related information management issues. For a novice user, the book provides valuable insights into the breadth of Tinderbox's potential applications and its flexibility. An experienced information farmer will find it sparks the imagination and inspires one to hone one's craft. Any reader will come away with a deepened respect for the process of working with information - any information - and an appreciation for having the right tool for the job. Good software design is an art. It is rare to gain such a clear view of the philosophy and intent of the designer and such thoughtful consideration of everyday scenarios. Some chapters alone, such as the one about preparing for, taking notes at, and following up on meetings, are worth many more times the cost of the book --Wallys W. Conhaim, Columnist, Information Today

I write and read manuals for a living, and The Tinderbox Way is one of the most interesting I've encountered. Not only do you find out how Tinderbox works, you learn the deep thinking behind why it works the way it does, and in the process discover new ways of thinking about and organizing information. I think every Tinderbox user will find The Tinderbox Way a valuable companion. --Gordon Meyer, author (Smart Home Hacks, O'Reilly MacDevCenter, Usable Help)

About the Author

Mark Bernstein is chief scientist at Eastgate Systems, Inc. and the designer of Tinderbox. His research on hypertext and new media has helped established the role of literary hypertext in contemporary culture. A graduate of Swarthmore College, he received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. His weblog may be found at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Dent on July 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
I've been an occasional Tinderbox user for a number of years, never quite getting into the program but kept thinking it was sufficiently useful to keep paying renewals. Some parts of this book are a bit like a "Missing Manual" for Tinderbox, especially when it comes to exporting to HTML. My enthusiasm for the software has risen dramatically from reading The Tinderbox Way but it's not just an effect of seeing some features explained in more detail.

Woven adroitly into the explanations of how to use the program are discussions of the background, starting from hypertext experimenters predating the Web.

I could personally justify the purchase just for the explanation of the history, including the failure, of "strongly-typed links"!

Buy this book if you are serious about getting more out of Tinderbox.

Buy this book if you are interested in hypertext, linking ideas or different ways of annotating thinking, even if you don't own a Mac (Tinderbox is currently Mac-only, a Windows version is "forthcoming") or don't intend to run Tinderbox, but you might just find the software purchase following :-)

Buy this book if you're a software developer interested in reading about a program developed with sound theoretical basis for its features and a discussion of the trade-offs in putting a lot of power in the user's hands.

I recently read Dreaming in Code and am saddened by the realisation that much of the chaotic history and design of the Chandler project might have been very different had they been able to read The Tinderbox Way before they started, or hired Mark Bernstein to consult.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By E. P. Rau on March 8, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mark Bernstein, the creator of Tinderbox, engages in a broad-ranging exploration of personal information management set out in parts, which are organized around various Tinderbox tools. Part philosophy, part epistemology, it makes for interesting reading. It is exactly what it purports to be: an exploration of Tinderbox functionality, and the thinking behind it. What it isn't is an owner's manual. If what you want is a fully indexed manual of Tinderbox commands and syntax, you'll be disappointed. In fact, I'm still not entirely sure where to find this information.

Don't get me wrong: I think this book is well worth having. It's made it clear to me how I can get the best use out of Tinderbox. Most manuals eschew this approach and go straight to the tactical: laying out the tools and examples for using them--assuming that the reader has already made up her/his mind about how the software will fit into her/his life, and essentially cutting the reader loose to find an answer to this larger meta-issue on their own. So Bernstein has provided us with a great and rare service which needs to be appreciated and acknowledged.

But I'd still like a manual, Mark...
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