Sunday, July 5, 2009

Twine

Twine is a free application for Windows and the Mac that is designed for building "interactive" stories, something that used to be called "text adventures." It can also be described as a hypertext builder.

From their Website: "Twine lets you organize your story graphically with a map that you can re-arrange as you work. Links automatically appear on the map as you add them to your passages, and passages with broken links are apparent at a glance. As you write, focus on your text with a fullscreen editing mode like Dark Room. Rapidly switch between a published version of your story and the editable one as you work."

On the twine website, they call this "visual thinking," which is perhaps a bit over the top.

Twine uses wiki-like formatting and linking. Once you are done with the story, you can compile it in various formats, including two TiddlyWiki formats.



I have no interest in writing stories—interactive or otherwise. But I do find the interface interesting for thinking about issues. Each window contains a paragraph or a thought. These paragraphs can be linked and tagged in various ways. Since you can drag them around at will, you get an interactive view of their relations much like you would in a mind map. But twine appears to be more flexible in some ways. What is mapped are not keywords, but paragraphs.

While twine is designed for fiction, it can also be made to work for non-fiction—or so it seems to me. I am not sure I would use it very much, but I do think that the multi-window approach to what is essentially a personal wiki is extremely interesting.

I doubt, however, that this approach will work for "grand narratives." It is probably better suited to smaller chunks of reality. It's the electronic equivalent of sorting index cards into the "proper" order, after having produced a rough draft with them.

The compiled version of "stories" could probably also be used effectively in the distribution of some teaching materials.

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