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Andy & Raine first letter on visual text

Last updated on October 5, 2019

Dear Collaborators Andy & Raine,

How can we increase the bandwidth between text and our minds? In other words, how can we increase the useful visual expression of symbols on a screen?

Let’s focus/constrain this a bit more: What can we do to design and build a textual system of symbols plus grammar which can be created on a normal, modern, 21st century laptop and also consumed on one?

If we take this real-world constraint as the frame for our work we have all the possible colours of the world at our disposal and we have visual acuity better than the human eye at normal reading distance, all in a frame allowing for eye-movement navigation rather than needing much neck moving for navigation and all presented by what only recently would have been considered super-computers.

The elements at our disposal are the alphabetic letterforms in various fonts which can be redesigned and re-coloured, animated and placed anywhere on the screen for optimal authoring and reading. This is quite easy to do for a demo but much more challenging to do when supporting knowledge work.

Let’s also split reading and writing since they are different activities. And further, let’s split the goals: For reading it’s to support curiosity and for writing its to support thinking and clarity of presentation.

What are your thoughts on this? If we can agree on the frame before we meet to talk, that could be useful. Also, who else might we want to invite into this very visual dialog? Ben Schinderman maybe?

 

Note, adding this link is a test: 500 Words

Published inCitation MetaCorrespondance

3 Comments

  1. Raine Revere

    > How can we increase the bandwidth between text and our minds? In other words, how can we increase the useful visual expression of symbols on a screen?

    This is a nice high-level expression of the/a problem. The word bandwidth is perhaps a bit too quantitative, but if I read it in the broader sense I totally agree. I say increase the capacity, interactivity, and/or intelligence. “Useful” is an important word, much deeper than it belies, as it brings in the pragmatic and motivational context of all doing/knowing.

    > Let’s focus/constrain this a bit more: What can we do to design and build a textual system of symbols plus grammar which can be created on a normal, modern, 21st century laptop and also consumed on one?

    The structure (textual system) on which I have converged with em is a freeform directed graph of thoughts (technically a modified graph where thoughts point to sets of thoughts that serve as “contexts”). Among other things, this allows thought-level addressing, multiple contexts/categories, and highly informal authoring with room to grow in formality. The latter point was validated in my recent reading of the lovely classic, Formality Considered Harmful.

    I regret that I am immediately referencing my own product, as my point is not to suggest a product-specific approach. The data structure that em uses is simply the result of much thinking about how to represent thought and text as it occurs and develops in the wild. I would very much like to treat it as an open problem and discuss the merits of alternatives / other approaches.

    > If we take this real-world constraint as the frame for our work we have all the possible colours of the world at our disposal and we have visual acuity better than the human eye at normal reading distance, all in a frame allowing for eye-movement navigation rather than needing much neck moving for navigation and all presented by what only recently would have been considered super-computers.

    > The elements at our disposal are the alphabetic letterforms in various fonts which can be redesigned and re-coloured, animated and placed anywhere on the screen for optimal authoring and reading. This is quite easy to do for a demo but much more challenging to do when supporting knowledge work.

    > Let’s also split reading and writing since they are different activities. And further, let’s split the goals: For reading it’s to support curiosity and for writing its to support thinking and clarity of presentation.

    I would be hesitant to create this division. Writing as a practice inevitably involves editing which involves re-reading. Reading is a process of creative apprehension (interpretation). Magic Margins and annotations of all sorts speak to the need to express while reading. So I wouldn’t draw a strict distinction between reading and writing myself outside of discussions of concrete processes in which the limits/usefulness of the abstraction are clear.

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