Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Whizfolder and the Fieldstone Method

From the Website of Whizfolder, an application I bought before it became outrageously expensive:
For effective writing, you should use a tool that allows you to write down your notes in pieces. If you keep on writing in one long-scrolling document using a word processor, it becomes a daunting task to review this long piece later. Instead, you should write in pieces, classifying and keeping each piece of note separately as you go. This helps in many ways. You keep the related pieces together, and that helps you get a better hold on your subject matter or plot as you go. You can move around the pieces later to change their order as your ideas change (as they often do). WhizFolders has all these features and is a perfect tool for any kind of writing. What is more, you can bunch up any number of pieces to make a full manuscript any time. Save your effort in brainstorming new ideas and plots ... Do not outline too soon ..."
Whizfolder is, however, essentially an Outliner with the ability to link different outline entries easily.[1]

An outliner is essentially a list processor, or perhaps better, a list processor that easily allows you to construct nested lists. It also allows you to work on one list item at a time, ignoring all the other things on the list (something that is much more difficult to do on paper. But not all list processors are outliners. Brainstorm is another one, in many ways more simple and perhaps just because of that, more powerful.[2]

Outliners demonstrate at least one thing—or so I think: they are applications that, from the beginning, have tried to overcome some of the limitations inherent in paper. Whether this has anything to do with the fact that they did better in DOS than in windowing environments is an interesting question I do not want to decide here.

I no longer use Whizfolder, but the advice on the Website does not appear altogether bad and is quite in keeping with the idea that "writing in chunks," or in a way that "is not dependent on any particular order of doing things" (Weinberg, p. 20). Ideas do not always come in the order in which they need to appear in a finished piece of writing.

Any application that allows you to concentrate on one idea at a time without concern or regard to how it is ultimately related to a project will do just as well, and some, like a personal wiki, will work better (for some).[3]

1. The price has come down again. The "Pro" version costs $25.00, the "Deluxe" version $49.95.
2. See also my earlier post on Brainstorm.
3. See also Hierarchies and Nets.

1 comment:

fhaolan said...


I have been looking for an outlining tool, so thanks for sharing about WhizFolder.

It looks like a good tool and without the slowness of most cloudbased mind maps.

Why do you no longer use Whizfolder, and what do outlning tool do you use instead?