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Presenting TiddlyWiki to the W3C

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Today, my colleague Paul Downey has made an impressive contribution to Osmosoft’s mission to explain by preparing a paper about TiddlyWiki for submission to the W3C Workshop on Security for Access to Device APIs from the Web. It gives an overview of TiddlyWiki for technical audiences that already know and understand the mainstream web and its underlying technologies.

Paul’s paper can be found here:

I’m loving it in lots of different ways. It’s a really solid example of what I call a “manifesto-style TiddlyWiki”, a tightly knit mesh of content that together communicates a system of belief. I like his tone, too, nicely sober and authoritative.


The challenge that Paul has taken on isn’t to be under-estimated. I’ve had the chance to talk about TiddlyWiki to many different audiences around the world, but the most unexpected reaction I encounter is from people in that same, technical audience and it is, bizarrely, outright disbelief. Picking it up in the middle of a demo, the conversation goes something like this:

Jeremy at OpenTech

Jeremy: Here I am clicking the ‘save changes’ button, and now watch as I refresh the page in the browser, and you can see that the changes that I made have been persisted to disc

Expert: Right, that’s very interesting. What serverside technology are you using? I bet it’s Java, isn’t it?

Jeremy: No, actually, as I said at the beginning, TiddlyWiki is a standalone HTML file, with the application logic written in JavaScript

Expert: Ah, I see, so you’re using something like Rhino to run the JavaScript on the server?

Jeremy: No, not at all. TiddlyWiki runs entirely on the client browser, and takes advantage of special privileges accorded to HTML files loaded from “file://” URIs to be able to save itself directly to disc

Expert: That’s neat. So do you use Google Gears to handle going offline?

Jeremy: Sigh, no, not quite.

And so it goes, on and on. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s happened too many times or me to avoid thinking about it. It’s seems that the idea of a standalone HTML file is sufficiently far away from many people’s experience of the web for it to be invisible to them.

The frustration for me is because it feels as though TiddlyWiki has something important to say about the different things that happen if you let people hack the web without needing server infrastructure. My experience is that you can foster some intense innovation by radically lowering the barriers to the Copy/Modify/Share cycle that is at the heart of community innovation.


Written by jermolene

November 18, 2008 at 4:10 pm

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