Monthly Archives: September 2013

Sketching with Words

When I visited the Louvre, the thing I remember the most (besides the Mona Lisa mosh pit), was the secluded and dimly-lit room where renaissance sketches were kept.

Master painters would prepare to paint by drawing dozens of sketches. The sketches were rough, and contained only the essential element being studied. The overall composition. A facial expression. An eye. Only when the painter was satisfied, would he sketch directly on the canvas.

How else could they have produced their masterpieces?

We would never expect a painter to just start without a plan, and proceed like an inkjet printer: use a tiny brush, start at the top, and scan left-to-right until reaching the bottom. They would very quickly run into problems. Perspective would be off, composition cliched, and postures awkward. Unless the painter were extremely experienced, the piece would fall apart and be impossible to finish.

This is obviously a terrible way to paint.
But we do this all the time, when writing. Continue reading Sketching with Words

Gingko for Goal-setting & Journaling

The greatest challenge in any large project, is keeping the daily tasks aligned with the long term goal.

It’s very easy to get lost in the details and the daily grind, and forget the big picture. Then you look up after two weeks of “hard work” to see where you’re at, and find you are no closer to your goal.

As with many challenges we all face in life, it’s partly due to a fundamental limitation of the human brain. We simply can’t keep our mind on the big picture, while we’re working on the details. And since we can only make progress by doing the daily detailed tasks, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed or lost.

With Gingko, we have an alternative approach: hierarchical goals. While not a new idea, Gingko is better suited to displaying these goals than most other software out there.
Continue reading Gingko for Goal-setting & Journaling

Seeing an Idea

When people first encounter Gingko, they either get it immediately, or they balk and say that organizing text in this way would never work.

For the latter, the main complaint is that there is no defined order to be reading in.

Sure, you could say that gingko trees should be read “depth first” (go deeper to the right if you can, before proceeding downwards). In fact, if you are exporting the tree as text or as a slide show, that’s the order you’d get.

But asking what the right order for reading gingko trees is like asking “what should I look at first?” when faced with a painting, a photograph, or anything new in your field of view. Continue reading Seeing an Idea