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Category: Liquid | Projects

Liquid Information Projects.

Email from User Brad Stephenson

Brad Stephenson is a Liquid | Author and Flow user who got in touch asking where Liquid | Reader is since he had seen it on the website. I apologised that it had been held back a bit and asked him why he was interested. His reply read like a manifesto for why we are building it so I asked him for permission to post his email and here it is:

Your mention of Reader as a helpful Literature Review tool caught my attention. My understanding, in simple terms: Reader would open PDF documents and allow copying of text within the app, then when pasted (assumedly in Author or another word processor) the bibliographic meta data would be embedded and automatically pasted with the text (I wasn’t exactly sure how it would be displayed and read _ code or text). Additionally the document could be read and highlighted in its entirety then Reader would include a feature which allowed only the highlights from the document to be displayed for review and assessment. This of course would make citing from PDF’s more streamlined and efficient.

A major frustration for me in completing my dissertation was in relation to citation software. My institution began with RefWorks as recommended by the library research assistant. The next year they dropped the contract with RefWorks, and recommended Mendeley, the following year dropping Mendeley and supporting Zotero. What I discovered was citations downloaded in compatible format from the library websites opened in Zotero were unreliably formatted. Instead of making the job easier it made it harder. If I were doing the project again I would probably build a bibliographic database using a spreadsheet, and manually insert footnotes. Your description of Reader indicating an ability to have the citation data embedded with the text which would be easily pasted and referenced for bibliographic or footnote usage.
Brad Stephenson
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Origins of the Dynamic View in Author

In Doug Engelbart’s demo he showed the power of having different views on the same information, such as when he viewed his shopping list by various criteria and then changed the view to a map: https://youtu.be/yJDv-zdhzMY?t=939

I am not sure if I had seen that when I designed a concept for being able to drag text around on the desktop in the mid-90s which I called the System Wide Scratch Area but the idea of putting things out on a space to work on the relationships seems pretty self-evident. We do it as children and my father did it with his documents in his pre-digital workflow.

analog

Joseph Novak, who has of course been invited to the Future of Text Book, formalised concept mapping and Tony Buzan was inspired by this and developed mind mapping. In the 1940s Alex Faickney Osborn introduced brainstorming. Thinking on a surface either with marks straight not he surface or using some kind of cards goes back a long time, at least to Carl Linnaeus during the 1700s.

digital

What I am investigating though is the ‘magic’ of digital representations above the flexibility of thoughts on cards, but there is still a lot to be learnt from cards, at least until we have digital desk sized desktops.

 

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Update (June 2019)

A friend asked for an update to introduce someone to the book project and the work in general so I thought I might as well post it as an update here in my journal:

 

Flow

With that aim I have developed an interactive text utility for macOS (I’m afraid all my work is in the Apple ecosystem, for my sins) called Liquid | Flow which allows the user to use a myriad of commands within half a second to search for highlighted text or to translate it and more. The site for this and my main project; Liquid | Author, is www.liquid.info

Author

Liquid | Author is a minimalist word processor with powerful tools for the digital age. It is not hamstrung by attempting to mimic paper but liberated by enabling rich interactions: Collapse the document into an instant outline with a pinch of the trackpad and see all occurrences of any text without having to scroll through the document looking for yellow boxes. Add citations from Books, Web, Video & Academic Documents instantly, and search any online resource in half a second.

It is also the first word processor with an integrated Dynamic View for freeform thinking, brainstorming, concept mapping and mind mapping. You can see the new 2 minute video demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCpJTRd0hrE

Visual-Meta & Reader

Finally, and I perhaps most importantly, is my notion of a visual-meta information system, for which I am building a new PDF reader called Liquid | Reader (I don’t use my imagination on naming things I have been told). It should be in the App Store around next weekend.

The origins of the approach is acceptance that PDFs are embedded in the academic (and business) world and that the act of ‘freezing’ information at the point of publishing is useful and important, but it should not be a struggle to utilise a document’s meta-information for such basic and core uses as citing a document.
It is based on the premise that documents should be readable, both by humans and systems and this is done by adding a visual meta information section at the end of the document. Please have a look at the blog post, with contains a roughly made demo video using Author and Reader to make this happen: http://wordpress.liquid.info/printed-meta/
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