enjoying new media • software aesthetics

Preprinted text

One reason people purchase ready-made journals instead of using a general-purpose notebook is that journals can come pre-printed with dates, page numbers, and other convenient boilerplate. These save some time, because otherwise you’d need to write the dates yourself.

Pre-printed forms can also remind you to record details that you might omit — especially details that now seem obvious. That’s why journals used to include the phase of the moon so prominently. Before streetlights and headlights, moonlight mattered; it was easier and more pleasant to go out in the evening when there was a moon. Everyone knew the current phase of the moon, everyone had a pretty good idea of when moonrise and moonset would be; it was simply part of the pattern of the day. But looking back, months or years later, you wouldn’t know — you’d have to look it up.

An easy way to pre-print information in Tinderbox is simply to use |= , the shorthand for conditional assignment. If the left-hand side of the assignment is empty, we proceed with the assignment, but otherwise Tinderbox ignores it. For example,

Text |= format($Date,"L")+": ";


If there’s no text yet, start out with the date. But if I’ve already put something in the text, leave the text unchanged.


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