TiddlyWiki is a really interesting "non linear personal notebook" that's currently getting a lot of people tinkering with it because it's a bit like an open source, build your own Roam Research or Notion: a tool for building second brains.

I've used TiddlyWiki off and on over many years. I can trace back to a post from May 2005 on my old blog, although even there I mention running it earlier than that. A couple of years ago, I even ran it on Google App Engine with the Go-based TiddlyWiki App Engine Server. That was multi-user, using Google accounts to restrict read/write.

Although we didn't really appreciate it at the time, it had this lovely aspect of all your "stuff" being in this one file. You could move the file around, whether it be on a USB stick or an FTP folder or a cloud service. Any web browser opens it and "runs" it – no servers involved.

Jeremy Ruston @Jermolene, the creator of TiddlyWiki, posted a great tweetstorm about how TiddlyWiki has been serverless all the way back to 2004:

Run your own Roam with TiddlyWiki plus Git

There has been a lot of excitement about Roam Research, which describes itself on the home page as:

A note-taking tool for networked thought.
As easy to use as a document. As powerful as a graph database. Roam helps you organize your research for the long haul.

The #roamcult Twitter hashtag or community run @CultRoam account should give you an idea of how excited people are, as well as surfacing lots of great tutorials and tips.

(Insert Notion love here if you're a fan of it instead)

Venkatesh Rao wrote about A Text Renaissance which covers a bit about why this is all coming up now:

The text renaissance is an actual renaissance. It’s a story of history-inspired renewal in a very fundamental way: exciting recent developments are due in part to a new generation of young product visionaries circling back to the early history of digital text, rediscovering old, abandoned ideas, and reimagining the bleeding edge in terms of the unexplored adjacent possible of the 80s and 90s.

But of course, both Notion and Roam are hosted SaaS apps, neither of them with official APIs yet. They have markdown exports, but ultimately your personal data, your notes, or "Second Brain" as some people call it, isn't fully under your control.

Enter TiddlyWiki, which is open source and thus can be hosted and backed up and modified as you desire.

TiddlyBlink and Drift are two distros / plugins for TiddlyWiki that include the bi-directional linking capability

Today, TiddlyWiki has the concept of "Savers". You can still save updates to your local machine, but you can also connect it up to a Git service of your choice and "save" by committing the HTML back through an API call.

Pesho Ivanov documents this as Two-click TiddlyWiki with Github Pages, or you can read the extended edition from Chris Aldrich, Self-hosting TiddlyWiki with Github Pages.

I set Drift up for myself, including turning on password-based encryption in TiddlyWiki. Here's my publicly hosted Drift TiddlyWiki. I can enter the password, and use it in the browser, and then periodically the encrypted version is saved back to my own private Github repo.

My second brain, publicly available everywhere, backed up and versioned. Pretty nice!

App Idea: Fission Saver for TiddlyWiki

Of course, git is still pretty complex to learn, for someone who mainly wants to take personal notes and make sure they're around forever. What I've described above was a fun exercise for me, but it's very <insert-yak-shaving-gif>.

The Fission tech stack gives users and developers a web native file system. Having files available everywhere, read/write, encrypted, and accessible through just a browser, means that developers can build apps that keep users in control of their files, and that a lot of existing apps can easily be connected to Fission. Serverless, as it were.

I wrote up what a "Fission Saver" would look like for TiddlyWiki on our App Ideas forum, which is a very basic start. Since you can publish files with Fission, the TiddlyWiki would be hosted on Fission, but also write back to itself over the HTTP API. This is pretty much the same as the Git savers today.

But we can do better than that, since we have portable user IDs and a passwordless login which can do encryption. A "native" Fission adapter for TiddlyWiki would mean offline and online access to your data available everywhere, and encrypted or public data as needed.

I'm looking forward to more "serverless" thinking with the tools we now have, which TiddlyWiki had figured out 15+ years ago.