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Last updated on October 5, 2019

I asked a few friends:

What do you think of this: A blogging service where the posts can be maximum 500 words (not characters) and other users can be referred to via @names and hastags also work. In other words; the best of twitter and blogging?….

  • Mark Anderson questioned the constant on size and I replied that too many blog posts become mini books. He said ‘amen’.
  • Raine Revere said “I think the platform requires more constraints than content length though. Freeform social media is a recipe for disaster/drivel.”
  • Shane Gibson asked if it would be decentralised.

And then I slept.

This morning I was reflecting on how, now that I am planning a discussion series with Andy Van Dam and Rain Revere on the visual aspect of text: I can write in Author and choose to send them a PDF for reading in (preferably) Liquid | Reader which should support annotations at some point, the original Author document where they can edit (ugh!) and leave me with many versions of the same text or post to WordPress, as I did. And then I remember Alan Kay’s words to me: “You can do it”, meaning (I think) that if it can be thought of and designed, it can be built.

Document Centric Author and Reader Model

Then I wondered, maybe we can take a decentralised, non server-based–and document centric view? Maybe we do it like this:

1) User authors in Author (or any other system which will support this approach) and tags people with their email address (Author will need to store them somehow for easy re-tagging in future) either on text (on their names fx.) or on export, similar to how categories work when exporting to WordPress. This will be near-equivalent of tagging with twitter @handles. An alternative would be to actually tag using Twitter handles but the idea is to let people be notified and notified in a way that they can choose to block.

2) User Publishes/Exports to PDF with full Visual-Meta or as an Author document (which gets locked) and Author emails everyone who was tagged in the document with the document including a notification saying they are in it.
The document name will be auto-generated to make sure it is unique, using a combination of the author’s name, the document title and time, to allow for links to be to the document and not to a location, via a search service such as Google, which I hope Vint may like.

3) Recipients reads the document in Liquid | Reader in Visual-Meta PDF or in .liquid format (Author document) and–importantly–the software is optimised for reading and annotating (not authoring).
Users can highlight text and search based on highlighted text later, re-format on the fly to pinch for headings or to flow as “Visual-Syntactic Text Formatting” or employ colour coding for different categories of text, copy any text as a citation and so on.

4) The dialog can then continue via the citation model rather than link model where new documents can be authored citing previous documents and the cited documents can reside on the user’s system or be fetched via search. This is something along the lines of what Chris Gutteridge and I discussed a while back.

And then my beautiful baby boy Edgar comes into the office and would like to read to me (yes, probably best morning ever).

Hegland, 2019.

The goal of such a system would be to allow for rich tools while authoring and rich tools focused on reading, very much in line with what Ted Nelson suggested with the god of the author and the god of the reader.



This document is tagged with Raine Revere, Andy van Dam, Shane Gibson, Alan Kay, Vint Cerf, Chris Gutteridge, Edgar and Ted Nelson and was distributed as a PDF with a backup post at

Published inCitation MetaCorrespondance

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