This is a call for the creation of what you might think of as an extension of .rtf which will remain robust but which will also be incredibly flexible and extensible.
- ?… please suggest
The name of a new document format is still to be decided but the need is very clear: We need to create a technical environment where innovation can flourish. It’s not enough that a single company for a single application can make something flexible, we need ways where any company can create an application which can open, edit and save to the document.
What we are calling for is the co-creation of the landscape for innovation – you can’t build without ground. You can’t extend without a robust and shared base.
The paper in documents is the substrate where the information sits.
Digital documents are not just the substrate of what they contain,
but also the soil, it is where our work grows.
The basic requirement for the document format is that it is open for anyone to use.
Ad-hoc additions should be possible, provided the ad-hoc additions are clearly, humanly, explained where added in the document.
I write a document in Author which I send to Sam. Sam chooses to open the document in a 3D concept map space, where he moves my text around in paragraph chunks as nodes, collapses some text under headings, adds new headings, connects nodes, annotates, tags with comments and so on. He then sends the document back to me and I can open it in Author and see his additions without loosing my basic Author style of viewing the document. I make further changes and sends it back to him and all the information need to display the in his system are still retained, with my additions politely placed to let him move around in his more advanced space, should he so wish. He then further works on it and sends it back to me, with all the contextual information retained, as before. And so it continues, with each sharing of the document being robustly versioned and any and all useful meta information retained (and shared, depending on each users preferences0, such as when information was added, where the user was when it was added – as much meta as possible for the user in the future to be able to richly view their history in the future.
That is the goal- to have an ever expanding document format. Will it matter that it will be very large? No, not in a world of gigabyte video files. Why should text based documents be smaller?
Information is Interaction
The development of this new document format will allow for the proliferation of new ways to richly interact with information, while retaining the ability to share the information.
It will also be crucial that a new way of linking will be developed alongside this document format, along the lines of academic citations but digital, liquid links, with link types.
Such a rich new document format would enable innovation, but there also needs to be innovation with text based applications as well, for paragraph level links, link type and link previews for example.
Let’s upgrade the space we have for innovation.