All this talk of knowledge and graphs has sent me back to my roots. I am a simple guy and this goes way over my head so I need to look at where I belong and where my work belongs in this space.
My passion comes from a visual perspective (my education is that of a visual artist) and my project Author was designed to be visually simple with powerful controls (as we would invent as we keep testing and dreaming) and the Dynamic View is based on early dreams from the 1990s, of being able to move text/symbols around at will when working.
I believe very strongly in the power of visual thinking, even for those who do not consider themselves to be visual people, since there seems to be many ways to interpret what ‘visual’ means. When pointed out that separating pieces of paper with different types of information on them into piles, it’s becomes clear that this is more useful than having just one big jumble. As Marc-Antoine wrote, turning clutter into clusters. The general gist of my thinking is to allow an author and reader the ability to cluster any information manually or by any criteria, while not loosing the central human thread of perspective.
Liquid + Linear
There has been much thinking and work towards completely liquid information environments but there is a reality that it’s one thing to think of information environments in an abstract sense and quite another when we are dealign with specific information – which is the only type of information, but that is another discussion.
When dealing with specific information the linearity of the author’s point of view becomes a central vector. There is always a point, an intention the author is trying to convey when ‘authoring’ a document and it is this which must be presented in symbolic form in order for another person (including the author in the future) to grasp what the author is trying to communicate.
A key point is that there will *always* be some level of cognitive processing of the symbols on their journey from substrate to mind via the human visual system, which will take place in the following spaces/domains/systems:
• Visual Space. What the reader sees visual on the substrate (initial typography, layout etc. and results of the readers interactive controls over the view)
• Mind Space. The filter of the readers mental perspective (experiences from memory which ‘comes to mind’, the reader’s expectation of the document, level of education, state of mind, initial understanding of the subject matter etc., both cultural and personal)
• External Space. The readers ability reach into external sources for other connections, perspectives and information (by asking another human being, referring to a printed/PDF document or through symbol interaction for searches, listings, analysis both interactive and proactive, dependent on the readers knowledge of the possible tools and information)
The goal of any cognitive symbolic communications system is to strike a balance between augmenting the ability of the reader to internalise and understand what authors intent with questioning the validity, credibility and relevance of the author’s claims.
The notion of Socratic Authoring is based on Socrates’ position that writing is not as interactive as speaking with someone, which is of course true to an extent, but it is not always possible to have a spoken conversation with everyone. Socratic Authoring then attempts to provide a richer impression of the authors perspective for the reader to interact with. This seems to be a goal of the knowledge graph crowd as well, so I think this is where we aim to find ways to augment each others approaches.
How to model and build on this I don’t know. To me it boils down to building interactive visual systems for symbol authoring and reading.
On a related note, I saw some students today who are interested in augmented thinking. Inspiring chaps, hope they can join us December 9th.