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richer environments for richer interactions

A powerful interaction arises out of the users knowledge of the tools and systems, the tool and the digital environment/infrastructure the tool operates in. Different environments can afford different degrees of interaction and this is a key to the fundamental evolution in the digital domain.

If we are to improve ourselves we must improve the tools we use to interact with our world, with each other and ourselves. If we are to improve our tools we must improve the environments in which we use our tools.

A more powerful workflow for academic (and other) documents would be if the documents allowed for more powerful interactions from the reader and automatic systems. Currently most academic publishing is done through the formerly proprietary Portable Document (PDF) format created by Adobe in the 1990s and opened in 2008. This format was developed with a focus on WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get)–it was designed to work independently of operating systems to produce a document which had a consistent visual appearance and the internal structure was therefore geared towards screen or paper reading, not interaction. Doug Engelbart suggested that instead of WYSIWYG, this approached should be called WYSIAYG (what you see is all you get) since it negates any special Digital-Substrate functionality.

I have, crudely, made a word processor where the user does not have the paper legacy of a table of contents and an index in the back which are separate from the main body text but which are the same and the user modifies the shape of the document to see what is useful at the time. With documents which are WYIWIWYG (what you interact with is what you get) focused, which I also refer to as more Socratic documents, the interactions can get much more powerful.

My work concerns the whole document process but for my PhD I am focusing on the literature review reading process and in particular how the References section of a document and the citations in the document can become more useful to the reader in ascertaining the importance and relevance of a citation and the author(s) who produced the document. This can only happen if the documents the reader uses are in a format which is semantically open and at this stage it looks like PDFs are not but my advisor Les seem to have ways around this but the up and coming JATS format should suit this very well.

The idea is that the citations in the references section can visually indicate how often they are also cited by other documents the user has and much more.

Maybe I should only focus on JATS. This is what I am looking into now.

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