Why does Trailblazer exist? Who is it for? Where are you taking it?
Hi. I’m Andy, and I’m Twingl’s Mad Scientist in Residence. (Stage name: CEO.)
I’d like to tell you a story. It’s a tale of tabs, viruses, and a vanguard of educators trying to evolve the way we think.
This may sound familiar
My good friend Barry1 is moving to Amsterdam.
Barry knew nothing about Amsterdam except that it was in Holland. He got curious.
So Barry did what any curious person would do. He opened up Google, asked it a question, and went down the rabbit hole.
Guess what happened next?
Tabs. Lots of them.
Multiplying the deeper Barry went.
Barry researched for a while. Some of the stuff he found was useful, some of it wasn’t; but either way—he had more questions than when he started!
He left his browser open, to come back the next day.
But Barry never returned.
The next day, overwhelmed by the mess, Barry just… opened a new window. He declared bankruptcy on his tabs. He cast this information into the abyss and started fresh.
The cycle continued. And spread.
A “curiosity transmitted virus”
I caught up with Barry a few weeks later for a beer. He told me about his plans—and his enthusiasm was contagious.
I became curious about Amsterdam myself, and pressed Barry for what he knew. But Barry could only tell me a fraction of what he learned. To really grok it—I needed to go back to his sources.
Sadly, Barry’s journey is lost forever. Locked up in some long decayed browser tabs. Living only in Barry’s biological, non-networked memory.
What does this mean? It means I have to face the same, horrifying mess as Barry as I retrace his steps.
The problem spreads.
The knowledge doesn’t.
We’re working on solving this.
Trailblazer, for Chrome, turns your online journeys into a map. The map shows you where you are, where you came from, and what was useful.
Return the next day—or the next week—and instead of a mess of tabs, you can see what you were thinking. You can see where to go next.
And when a friend shares your curiosity? Just flick them your map, and they can pick up where you left off.
The Epicentre: Education.
The interesting thing about these maps—and we didn’t expect it when we started out—is that these maps show you not just what someone found, but how they found it. You can see how someone thinks. It’s like “showing your work” in maths, or art.
You can see how someone thinks, and help them ask better questions.
This leads me to Trailblazer’s “epicentre”, education. Specifically, enabling the critique of self directed learning.
See—I learned the most at school during lunch-time. I’d “forget” my sunhat and thus get sent to the library—where I could go on the computer and get lost in Encarta and the web. (Oh Netscape 3; we had a lot of fun.)
Times have changed. Students have laptops. The internet comes out of the air. A growing tribe of educators are reshaping their role to that of a guide. Not there to teach rote knowledge—but to teach students how to learn.
If you’re an educator (hi! we love you.), you’ve probably found it hard to see how well students are learning to learn. If a kid hands in, say, a Minecraft gulag for their social studies project, how do you know that they didn’t just spend 10 minutes on Wikipedia and 10 hours in Minecraft?
How can you shape your students into better learners if you can’t see their bad habits?
Are you an educator? Say hi! You’re more important to us than you can possibly know.
We want to help you create life-long learners out of your students. And frankly, we need your help. You folks are the domain experts.
Because while on the surface, Trailblazer wrangles your tabs; what we’re really trying to build is a better way to learn and trade knowledge.
Vision and the Future
The free sharing of ideas and knowledge between people is what drives the human race forward. When we improve our tools for storing and sharing knowledge, ideas evolve faster. Humanity advances faster. We saw it with the invention of language; writing; the printing press and the internet.
There’s a lot of knowledge locked up in people’s brains. The more we keep outside our heads, the less of a barrier there is to sharing that knowledge with other people.
At Twingl, we build tools that get your knowledge out of your head. We think this helps you become a better thinker. But more importantly, it makes others better thinkers as well.
Let’s all become smarter, together.
We want to create a world where you can say: “I’ll send you everything I know about this”—and be telling the truth.
There sure is a lot to do.
Better hop to it.
- Sign up for the beta on our homepage.
You will be invited in batches over the coming weeks—starting with you brave inhabitants of the Danger Zone.2
- Give this article to somebody who might like it.
Or hit the lil’ Tweet button down the bottom of this page.
- If you’re an educator, sign up for the education beta or say “hi!”
Not that it’s an overly important detail, but “Barry” isn’t actually his real name. This is, shock horror, a real story, and Barry’s move is still a bit of a secret. Good luck, other Barry! You know who you are. ↩
We’re making you some lofty promises: and your feedback is what will help us live up to them. Taking full inspiration here from Slack and their incredible launch. Slack is our favourite product ever, and it goes to show that feedback really matters. ↩