A Personal Micro Database in the Cloud
CONNECTED CL ASSROOM
T im Berners-Lee’s original goal in creating the World Wide Web was to provide an easy means of sharing physics notes. He
envisioned that creating a webpage would be as
easy as creating a word processing document.
However, the technology for reading webpages
advanced faster than the technology for creating
them. Web browsers were easy to use, but web
editors required mastery of technical skills.
Ward Cunningham wanted to fulfill Berners-Lee’s original vision for the web by providing a
way for an average user to create a webpage. He
developed a tool that allows users to quickly create webpages without special training: the wiki.
Wikis serve a useful function alongside other
web services, such as blogs and Facebook. They
are particularly helpful when collaborating with
a smaller group, such as a class of students. They
can also link to newer cloud technologies as
needed to create a powerful, flexible platform
for addressing a wide range of tasks.
TiddlyWiki is a nonlinear personal web notebook that
uses tags to search and display note cards.
Personal Information Manager
Tiddly Wiki is an example of an easy-to-use, open
source personal wiki. You can download it for
free and use it as a private database on a single
computer or served to the web. By examining
this simple wiki, users can come to understand
the operation of more full-featured, complex
wikis, such as Wikipedia.
Organized as a personal notebook, Tiddly Wiki
consists of a series of note cards that users can
link to one another. You can download TiddlyWiki as a single file (no installation necessary),
and it doesn’t need an internet connection to run
on a computer. When an internet connection
is available, it is possible to embed links to any
In addition to displaying content, the program
allows you to tag each note card and find all of the
cards with similar tags using its search function.
The Tiddly Wiki application manages the note
cards. It can display the contents of any note card,
locate and open all of the cards with a given tag,
or create a menu of the main topics in an outline.
Students and teachers could use a personal
wiki to take notes, manage tasks, or work on
any project that would benefit from a series of
linked notes. A Tiddly Wiki journal template can
generate a note card with a date that is useful for
maintaining a diary.
Because the micro database consists of a
single file, you can carry it on a USB drive, email
it from one user to another, or post a copy on
a webpage. This provides a way of using it on a
variety of computers throughout the day.
The advent of cloud computing services, such
as Dropbox, offers flexible access to a personal
wiki. These services enable a user to store files
in the cloud and access them across a variety
of devices. You can use Dropbox, for example,
to synchronize files across Macs, PCs, iPhones,
iPads, or Android devices.
An electronic file box of note cards can be
useful for any project involving research or
categorization. Teachers have traditionally
encouraged using note cards for writing and
language arts projects. Typically, teachers or
students place the subtopic heading at the top
of each note card followed by one key point. An
electronic note card can be particularly useful
for documenting references associated with web
sources because it can include embedded links
that go directly to the online source.