November 27, 2017


La Martre lighthouse, QC

  • Overview
  • Introduction to Gthnk
  • Installation
  • Typical Use as a “Work Journal”
  • Integration with apps and OS
  • Conclusion

Introduction to Gthnk


Log of H.M.S. Beagle

  • Logbook
  • Lab Notebook
  • Work Journal
  • Quote book
  • Daily Diary
  • others?


La Basílica del Voto Nacional

  • time: a line that goes “forward”
  • entries are organized by day
  • gthnk uses this chronology to organize your notes
    • further organized by hour and minute
    • (seconds are not really regarded)

What is Gthnk?

Medieval writing desk

  • Gthnk is a database
  • always running on your computer
  • type your notes into a text file (“journal”)
  • supports markdown, so links and formatting work
  • notes imported into database at midnight
  • web browser to search and view notes
  • use whatever editor and browser you want

Related Software


City Hall Toronto Public Library

  • how much has Word .doc changed in 20 years?
  • is there a future in digital formats?
  • Gthnk’s simple text file format can be printed
  • printed hardcopy can be scanned and OCRed
  • scanned result recreates original Gthnk database
  • imagine a 100-year record with archival ink and paper

Handwritten Notes

Freud’s Handwritten Notes

  • not all notes are suited to text files
  • visual: drawings, schematics, diagrams, charts, graphs
  • spontaneous: meetings, lectures, live events
  • flexible: collaborative, multi-colors, outdoors
  • Gthnk’s solution: attach to Chronology
  • learn the standardized handwritten page heading
  • scan pages as PDF, drag-drop onto Gthnk

Mobile Notes

mobile phone in the wild

  • mobile is so convenient; always with you
  • is the cloud secure? are your notes private?
  • Gthnk is an offline database that runs on your computer
  • Supports mobile text files via cloud drives
    • dropbox
    • google drive
    • etc…
  • Gthnk’s cloud compromise: global write, local read


That’s my stapler.

  • Attach digital media to a Day in Gthnk
    • PDFs, including handwritten notes
    • images: JPEGs, GIFs, PNGs, etc.
  • drag-drop media onto drop target
  • pages can be re-ordered after importing
  • Attachments are stored in database

Introducing Gthnk

Ballads of the Bench and Bar

  • a personal Journal
  • supports long-term Archival
  • technically, it’s a Database
  • a Chronology of your notes
  • including Handwritten Notes
  • and Mobile Notes
  • and image Attachments, generally


Online Installation Guide

Classic “installer” icon

  • step-by-step installation process
  • overview
    • install Python
    • then install Gthnk
  • Windows and OS X
  • You will be using Gthnk when complete

Typical Use

Keeping a Text Journal

Old Books at Merton College

  • Use any reasonably-nice text editor
    • Supported: Sublime Text
    • Good: Microsoft VS Code
    • Good: Emacs AND vi
    • Android: Jota+
  • Rules of the Journal format:
    • a day token is YYYY-MM-DD
    • an entry token is HHMM
    • tokens have 2 linefeeds before and 2 linefeeds after

Journal Rotation

Ansgar Nierhoff: Rotation (2003)

  • Each day, Gthnk imports whatever is in your journal.
    • this is how stuff “gets into Gthnk”.
  • “refresh” button triggers rotation.
  • Your journal files are cleared during rotation.
    • you start a new day with the blank file.
    • NB: You need a text editor that “notices” this


Howard E. Tatel Radio Telescope

  • Landing page provides a search box
  • Search button in the UI
  • results consists of matching entries
  • entries are sorted by date
  • clicking brings you to the original day

Daily Review

Aleph by Sjölén and Somlai-Fischer

  • Each morning at 9am, Gthnk launches with the most recent entries.
    • usually, this is “yesterday”
  • It’s automatic.
  • reviewing the notes is a good daily practice

Integration with apps and OS

Gthnk Integrations

Mount Washington Cog Railway

  • Gthnk is always running
  • it is a web service
  • there are many clever ways to hook into Gthnk
  • integrations make Gthnk much faster

Web browsers

Dew on Spider Web

  • load Gthnk with any web browser
  • add Gthnk as a search engine
    • Gthnk is a web service
    • search your notes from your browser
  • add Gthnk to your Desktop as an “App”
    • works with Chrome on OS X and Windows

Text editors

Icon for Leafpad

  • date and time macros
    • bind a hot key
    • never type these again
  • file modification detection
    • editor auto-reloads changed files
    • most text editors have this

Hot keys and Launchers

Shuttle Columbia Launches

  • use a key combination to launch Gthnk
    • your notes are a keystroke away
  • Launchers
    • OS X:
    • Windows: AutoHotkey
    • others

Mobile files

Cloud Computing Icon

  • Gthnk can import multiple journals during rotation
    • edit the configuration
  • Pattern for mobile:
    • Dropbox/journal-phone.txt
    • Dropbox/journal-tablet.txt
  • Now edit those files on the road
  • Gthnk rotates them


Landscape near Laugavegur, Iceland

  • Gthnk provides lots of ways to integrate
  • opportunities to mesh with life
  • work faster



Ballads of the Bench and Bar

  • a personal Journal
  • supports long-term Archival
  • technically, it’s a Database
  • a Chronology of your notes
  • including Handwritten Notes
  • and Mobile Notes
  • and image Attachments, generally

Online Resources

Images in this Presentation

Thank You

Ballads of the Bench and Bar