Guest talk Carsten Dominik

Table of Contents


Prof. Carsten Dominik
University of Amsterdam and Radboud University Nijmegen

Emacs Org-mode: Organizing a Scientist's Life and Work


presented on February 8th 2010 at
Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research Cologne


Emacs is not only a widely used and famous editor that is appreciated by programmers, authors and scientists alike. It is also one of the most portable software platforms ever built and it uses the most stable file format there is: plain text. These properties make it an ideal environment for a general all-round tool that can provide consistency and stability.

Org-mode is such a tool. It was developed by an astronomer in order to integrate the daily tasks of a scientist: From planning to note-taking to computing to presenting and publishing. The features in Org-mode are not the result of abstract planning by a software design department - they did arise in a years-long interaction between the author and a large group of dedicated users.

This talk will start with a general introduction into Emacs and Org-mode. It will then step by step introduce the different concepts and applications of Org-mode using the example of a simple project. We will demonstrate how to brainstorm, plan and track a new project, how to take and organize notes, and how to turn the notes in web pages, printed reports and presentations. The talk is intended to be accessible to an audience without programming experience, but will also contain teasers for people with programming experience.

Carsten Dominik got his PhD in Physics and Astronomy at the Technical University of Berlin. He is now Associate Professor at the University of Amsterdam and also holds a Special Professorship for Extrasolar Planets at the Radbaud University Nijmegen. In 2003, Carsten Dominik published the initial version of Emacs Org-mode and has been the lead maintainer since.

Download video recording

We have recorded the talk and provide different versions of the recording for download. You might need to unpack (un-zip) the movie files first, files ending in ".zip" will be downloaded as complete films. Please note: this is the first time we have recorded a presentation using a screen capture tool in addition to a conventional camera and we apologize for the poor sound quality (due to a faulty setup).

Best quality (QuickTime, 301 MB) |
Low quality (QuickTime, 80 MB) |
Good quality (Ogg/Vorbis, 364 MB)
orgmode-mpinf-2010-c1.ogg |

Org usage at MPINF


The Org-mode homepage
GoogleTech-Talk by C. Dominik
Ordnung ins Chaos, freiesMagazin Oct 2009 (German)


Many thanks to Carsten Dominik for giving the talk and for his relentless work on Org-mode. Thanks to KaPe Schmidt (video recording), to Ruth Lang (RRZK), Heidi Schuster (MPG), Helmut Hayd (MPG) and Eberhard Moenkeberg (GWDG) for help and advice. This page was (surprise!) made with Org-mode and we have benefitted tremendously from the discussions on the mailing list.


We have been asked how this page was created. The main ingredient is, yes, an org-file. Getting the institute's logo into the top left corner (on top of the table of contents) was accomplished with a macro (to increase readability) and some additions in the css-file. The full sources are available here: src.html.


Die nachstehenden Informationen enthalten die gesetzlich vorgesehenen Pflichtangaben zur Anbieterkennzeichnung und zu den datenschutzrechtlichen Informationspflichten: Impressum.

(C) 2010-2013 Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research Cologne, Germany