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Category: Liquid | View

Watching Our Language

We discussed naming and terminology on the Doug@50 call yesterday, or rather, I moaned about our lack of language for the work, and here are two pertinent realisations:

The Thing It Is

In Author, when we switched into the dynamic view, which is essentially a graph or a map where the headings become nodes which can be flexibly re-ordered and connected, I initially called the headings ‘nodes’ when in this view since they are indeed nodes when viewed this way. However, for the user, this turned out to make no sense, since they still ‘are the same thing’, it’s just the interaction which has changed. This is important because we need to use current language as a start for where we are going and we need to see this from a new-world perspective, not try hard to shoe-horn old concepts into a new conceptual space. ‘The thing is the thing’, no matter where it is or how it’s viewed.


The other issue is one of scale. In a conversation today the obvious issue of how some of us are dealing with and are interested in large scale knowledge graphs and some of us, myself included, are interested in extremely small graphs, such as the dynamic view scale where items on the screen can usefully be represented by text and not a cloud or other shape. I’m sure this has been obvious to many for a while, but it just became clear. The large scale knowledge graph work (LSKG?) is more concerned with AI analysis while the small scale work is more concerned with human-visual analysis.


To keep these two quite different projects connected it would be great to find a way to make them interoperable in an active way if possible, or passive if that is all that’s useful and this is where the notion of a hyperGlossary comes in. The idea is to have a way for a user to manually add or define ‘nodes’ to a system which can be used to serve the nodes to other systems (Chris’s notion of a node server). A primary way to do this could be via a hyperGlossary where an author can define the personal meaning of a word or a term for the sake of elucidating the reader (as glosses originally were used) with a short definition, a long definition and then with specific connections to other terms. These connections would then build a basic graph which can be interactively viewed visually or even connected to large scale graphs.

This could be a very useful way of scaling the scale issue.

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Liquid | Author workflow: Write, Think Cite & Submit

This is my script for a demo/pitch for Liquid | Author which I have sent to a few friends, including what I am proposing to build to make it a smoother experience, marked [NEW] in the document. The point is simple, this is the workflow Liquid | Author supports and this is how simple and effective it is:


In Author you can quickly change from focused full-screen to regular view with the ESC key. When you settle down to write you have no formatting options to distract you with but you have control over your typeface to choose bold and italic which appear as they should, not as code which is how they appear in markdown.

You can type away and tap ‘fn’ twice to dictate.

Please also note that Author uses a slightly warm background to reduce eye-strain. It looks quite strong to stat with but ceases to be noticeable in full screen after only a short while.


Thinking is sometimes simply called ‘organising ones thoughts’ and in Author you can pinch to see only the headings in your document, which you can re-organize to reflect your growing understanding of the topic you are writing about.

[NEW-MAJOR] You can choose to view your headings in the companion application Liquid | View, where the headings become nodes in a free-form concept map view. Any changes you make there are reflected in your Author document and vice-versa. This application will also be able to use nodes from other sources so that you can visually think with nodes without leaving the power and long-form environment of your word processor or blog, for example.

Liquid | Author’s companion Liquid | Flow allows you to select any text and instantly carry out useful operations. For example, look up a word in Wikipedia. You can also translate, convert, search copy in different experimental ways and share via email, and more.

While you are writing a longer and more involved document you may wonder if you have used a word or phrase earlier. Just select it, cmd-f and only sentences with that text will appear-in full. Click on one to jump to it or ESC or click in the margin to return to your regular view.


To cite something you have read in a book you select the text in your document which contains the quote, or paraphrase, and cmd-t to get the citation dialog. Here you can press ‘a’ for Amazon and you can search Amazon for the book and it will auto-fill your citation.

When someone reads your document in the future they can click on the citation and choose to see the book in Amazon or [NEW] to search Google Books to see the cited passage in context, to better understand your citation and to check its veracity.

You can similarly search Mendely for academic documents.

If you copy something from a web page you will get the option when you paste to paste as Plain Text (default option, just press enter) or As Citation (hit ’t’). If you choose to paste as citation Author will capture additional information for you but you still need to type in the author’s name.

This brings up citing from a video on YouTube. You can ctrl-click inside the video to copy a URL to the exact time in the video you have frozen at and then in Author when you do cmd-t you have the option to cite using your YouTube URL. If you do, you will also need to enter the author’s name since different people can of course speak in a single video. Your reader can then click on the citation and the video will play from that moment of time right inside Author.


When you have written your work and you are ready to submit, you can cmd-p which does not bring up a traditional Print dialog but a series of options for how to Publish your digital document; to .doc, .pdf and also to paper via Print.

When you choose what format you want to Publish in, you can also specify whether your citations should be automatically appended to the end of the document under the heading of ‘References’ or ‘Bibliography’. You can also specify how the citations should appear in the body of the document; as superscript numbers or authors names and dates in brackets.

[NEW] You may already have entered your name and organisation at the back of your document. If so, Author will have remembered and you only need to fill in the name of your course. This information will automatically become the document cover sheet.

If you choose to Publish as an Author document your reader will have special controls in Read mode from what you had in Edit mode. You can toggle the modes at any time by clicking at the button at the centre of the bar at the bottom of the screen BTW. In Read mode you can use spacebar to jump down a screen and you can select text and spacebar to have the text read out to you.

If you like, you can even use Liquid | Flow to post your work to your blog, in about a single second.

And you are done.

But we at the Liquid Information Company are only getting started. These are early days and we thank you for your support in continuing to develop ever more powerful interactive text software: Thank you!

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