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In reply to Ed and Fleur’s request

Last updated on October 9, 2018

In reply to Ed and Fleur’s request: 

I have been having the same thoughts as Ed and further to that – maybe it would help to go forward now to hear some practical examples from everyone how all this work has helped in the past and made difference or what a practical implementation might be and what results we would like to see/ could be had. How does all the knowledge materialise? (Kjlinsma & Leahy, 2017) 

I wholeheartedly agree that specifics is where it’s at, it’s where the rubber meets the road. 

I’ll start by quoting a section from  Augmenting Human Intellect (Engelbart, 1962), where he sets the scene for a ‘virtual’ demo: His fictional guide ‘Joe’ begins, “You’re probably waiting for something impressive. What I’m trying to prime you for, though, is the realisation that the impressive new tricks all are based upon lots of changes in the little things you do. This computerised system is used over and over and over again to help me do little things — where my methods and ways of handling little things are changed until, lo, they’ve added up and suddenly I can do impressive new things.” 

The specific field I have chosen to focus on with my work is the discourse students and teachers have via documents, consisting primarily of text.  

• The aim is to help the student think more clearly, do more thorough research and to produce more credible documents.  

• Conversely, the goal is also to help the teacher quickly get to grips with the students intention and to check the documents credibility. 

Credibility is an aspect I am grateful to Ed for really highlighting (and it makes sense, he was my university teacher) and we define credibility in a document largely from how well it’s reasoned and how well its cited.  

To this end I have build  Author (named in honour of Doug’s ‘Augment’, with which it shares name roots) which focuses on the reading and writing process (it features reading and writing modes, which I know is not very fashionable in some quarters but I feel that these are very different activities), and since I am an intensely visual person the visual interface is very sparse, in the words I wrote many decades ago when I was working with Sarah Walton: Information should be within eye’s reach and interactions within hand’s reach. Most of the interactions are therefore gesture or keyboard shortcut based, something someone who is familiar with cmd-b for Bold should be comfortable with. 

Since today’s Skype call is getting near, and since this is a not something I want to take too much of your time on anyway, I will highlight some of the aspects of what I have implemented: 

To do more research I have built the Liquid tool which allows the student to search any search engine based on selected text in less than half a second, making it much faster and easier, and therefore much more likely, to look things up.  

Citations are the key aspect I am focusing on to help with the credibility. To cite simply means to bring something forth and the history of citations is very messy. What I have done in Author is to make citations tags onto specific text which point to very specific places. The user can select text, cmd-t and choose to use Mendely, Amazon or Manual entry – or, if the user can copied a youTube URL, a video. On reading the document the reader can click to check the original sources, even to play – from the moment cited – the video right inside Author, making it more credible since it’s harder to miss-quote someone or have the context obscured intentionally or by error. 

The next step will be to to work on the ‘clear thinking’ aim, by building the  Dynamic Views  into Author so that a student can learn more about the space he or she is writing about in a concept map space and organise and link and see what they know and therefore maybe also learn more about what might be missing. How far this can go I don’t know, hence my hope that this can be my PhD project (pending approval). 

On the teacher/reader side I plan great things (import and Publish modules to do many automatic things to check the document) but at this point a focus on another Doug perspective, ViewSpecs, has started: Select any text and hit cmd-f and only the sentences with the selected text are displayed.  

These are some of my basic aims and how I am working on achieving them. I hope it goes some way to address the question from my point of view and I hope others in this community will add to this thread! 


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