The Origin of Scapple

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

I'll spare you my whole speech about the inklings of another at-least-mini golden age of Interesting Software, especially though not only for the Mac. I consider Scrivener the single most useful writing program I've ever come across; I'm fascinated by Tinderbox and TheBrain; I have come to trust and rely on both Evernote and DevonThink; and so on. Last year Scrivener's creator, Keith Blount, served a stint as guest-blogger in this space, as did the creator of Tinderbox and a co-creator of TheBrain.

I'll spare you that speech (and you can see links to some past articles about Scrivener here) so as to get right to the new program I want to mention. It is called Scapple; it is from Literature and Latte, the small English company that produces Scrivener; it's still in open beta; and it is so easy to use and understand that you can very quickly grasp what it might and might not do for you. Here are two drawings that illustrate the pre-computer function that this program is meant to replicate, and its Scapple-ized equivalent.



An explanation of the program is here; it includes the link to download the beta version, which I'm not giving you directly because I think it's worth reading the background. This same page also leads to a very large number of messages from beta-version users discussing Scapple's ups and downs. I like this program a lot and think Mac users will find it worth a try.

Meanwhile, if you do any writing of longer-than-blog-post scale, seriously: check out Scrivener. That is all for now. NO I HAVEN'T FORGOTTEN that updates are due on Atlas Shrugged guy; Foxconn pics; Jobim; the filibuster; and much more.