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Category: Liquid | View

Wording & Categories

Let’s have a look at the language of laying out text in a visual, non-liner way, as a text space:



“modern word-forming element meaning “instrument for recording; that which writes, marks, or describes; something written,” from Greek -graphos “-writing, -writer” ” (Harper,



“A diagram showing the relation between variable quantities, typically of two variables, each measured along one of a pair of axes at right angles.” (


Graph (abstract data type)

“In computer science, a graph is an abstract data type that is meant to implement the undirected graph and directed graph concepts from mathematics. A graph data structure consists of a finite (and possibly mutable) set of vertices or nodes or points, together with a set of unordered pairs of these vertices for an undirected graph or a set of ordered pairs for a directed graph. These pairs are known as edges, arcs, or lines for an undirected graph and as arrows, directed edges, directed arcs, or directed lines for a directed graph. The vertices may be part of the graph structure, or may be external entities represented by integer indices or references.” (


This type of graph becomes a type of diagram:



“A simplified drawing showing the appearance, structure, or workings of something; a schematic representation” (


And we can now look at different ‘maps’



1520s, shortening of Middle English mapemounde “map of the world” (late 14c.), and in part from Middle French mappe, shortening of Old French mapemonde, both English and French words from Medieval Latin mappa mundi “map of the world;” first element from Latin mappa “napkin, cloth” (on which maps were drawn), “tablecloth, signal-cloth, flag,” said by Quintilian to be of Punic origin (compare Talmudic Hebrew mappa, contraction of Mishnaic menaphah “a fluttering banner, streaming cloth”) + Latin mundi “of the world,” from mundus “universe, world” (see mundane).” (


Concept Map

“Concept maps are graphical tools for organizing and representing knowledge. They include concepts, usually enclosed in circles or boxes of some type, and relationships between concepts indicated by a connecting line linking two concepts. Words on the line, referred to as linking words or linking phrases, specify the relationship between the two concepts.” (Joseph D. Novak & Alberto J. Cañas,

So far so simple and plain, something anyone coming to the system could naturally do. However, Concept Maps have other design constrained. (From same web page):


  • Concept is a perceived regularity in events or objects, or records of events or objects, designated by a label.
  • The label for most concepts is a word, although sometimes we use symbols such as + or %, and sometimes more than one word is used.
  • Propositions are statements about some object or event in the universe, either naturally occurring or constructed.
  • Propositions contain two or more concepts connected using linking words or phrases to form a meaningful statement.
  • Sometimes these are called semantic units, or units of meaning. Figure 1 shows an example of a concept map that describes the structure of concept maps and illustrates the above characteristics.


So this complicated, constrains and gives more power for specific use-cases.


Topic Map


Topic Maps represents information similarly to Concept Maps using the following elements (wikipedia):


  • Topics representing any concept, from people, countries, and organizations to software modules, individual files, and events,
  • Associations representing hypergraph relationships between topics, and
  • Occurrences representing information resources relevant to a particular top


Mind Map

A hierarchical Concept Map with a central node.


Digital Desktop Notes

“Desktop notes are computer applications that allow putting Post-it note-like windows on the screen, with reminders, short notes and other clippings. They are typically rectangular and yellow, like their real-world counterpart, but most applications support other colours and more elaborate designs.” (

These get a bit closer to the basic casual interaction I am talking about.


Text-Graph (?)

All this means is that we are looking to develop something new, something as simple as text connected with lines (ala Scapple, which I use for my work on the Interactive Text Space) combined with rich interactivity and connection possibilities.






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Liquid | Space, The Incredible Thinking Space

‘The Incredible Thinking Space’ is the focus of what we are trying to build, augmenting the ‘thinking’ phase of academic document creation.

Building from The Incredible Thinking Space post:

And from the Interactive Text Space Diagram post:

This is a proposal for a project to merge a word processor view with a concept map view in one environment, to use both views to build a more powerful reading and writing and thinking environment.

[NOTE: Liquid Space is now Liquid View]


word processing view

The benefits of a word processing view is that it favours long form reading and writing with its column centred presentation and word processing views are widely shared in standard document formats. It does not work so well for using a large computer’s screen real-estate nor is it excellent for laying out and creating connections.


concept map view

The benefit of a concept map view is pretty much the opposite of the word processing view: It is great for laying out and creating connections and uses a large computer’s screen real-estate well. It is not so great for reading and wring long form text.


combing word processing and concept map views

The proposal here is to develop a powerfully useful and visually simple concept map space, with the ability to switch the view to a word processing view and back again, where the body text is by default hidden in the concept map view but can be brought forth if required.

Development to make the concept map view very powerful will mean going further than our basic inspirations such as the elegant but limited functionality Scapple (macOS) and presenting a clearer view than the powerful the Brain, including adding links to nodes to other documents and more, with a focus on extremely high performance interactions. I will be blogging more on this and continue conducting literature reviews on the concept map / mind map work.

The word processing view will build on the work which has gone into Liquid | Author, including integrated outline views and document views.




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Incredible Thinking Space (initial thoughts) 03 Jan, 07:31

Elements of Academic Thought

Let’s start with the Elements of Academic Thought, as discussed in

•  Thoughts : Notes/Writings

•  Something in the World : Citations

•  Thoughts about Something in the World : Annotations

•  Thoughts about Something in Our Work : Comments

These can technically be defined as (using URLs as the means to have items addressable):

•  Thoughts : Notes/Writings  > Text + URL (your own writings needs to be referable in other writing)

•  Something in the World : Citations  > Text + URL (where the text is a preview)

•  Thoughts about Something in the World : Annotations  > Text + URL (where the text is your thoughts)

•  Thoughts about Something in Our Work : Comments  > Text + URL


•  Images and other media also needs to be included as tagged and addressable with description/name for text and URL, so the media can be displayed and manipulated by name or media.

Which presents how important a way of addressing items of information are. It also presents the thought that what is necessary is not a basic word processing environment but a full environment for organising this type of information, with each piece having addressability and (for other reasons) rich meta information (tags) available.

Citable Elements

In this environment citable elements will primarily be digital native elements with rich meta-information attached, but analog and poorly digitised elements can also be incorporated.

A New Environment

The goal of my work is to make information as richly interactive as possible in order to augment the users deep literacy skills of generating as much useful, actionable meaning as efficiently as possible from digital information and to publish as clearly and credibly as possible. 

As such, it becomes essential to develop as liquid an information environment as possible and this will necessitate both the adherence to open standards, particularly where addressing and citing is concerned and to building a complete new environment where the whole cycle of entering the elements of academic thought, thinking about them and publishing them can be done with as rich control as possible. 


It is absurd to design a word processor, a citation manager, concept maps etc. separately but it is crucial that they can be implemented separately, through strong, open APIs to connect the components (to be thought of as components, not separate applications).

The requirements 


•  Addressable items (within the system and externally, so needs to be synched with a web server which will keep identical items for external reference through URLs) 

•  Flexible Attribute Views based on keyword and meta-information (as above) 

•  Flexible Connection Views based on Automated & Manual Manipulation (so meta-information and full text is important) 

•  Ability call forth elements from within and the system and externally

•  A document production view connected to multitudes of other Views (as above), in a tangible manner 

•  Treats text as a first-class item, with real thought as to how to show many text snippets efficiently. Lists of text must be readable and glanceable so the text display will be a major design consideration.

Incredible Thinking Space

What is needed then is an incredible thinking space where all kinds of digital artefacts can added, called forth, viewed in rich ways and presented/shared in clear, credible ways. This is what I will work on designing.


To make the information feel tangible it needs to have stable dimensions so that the user can develop a sense of spatial awareness which maps onto the users brain. This can be achieved in many ways, such as presenting the space in 2D with consistent use of the XYZ axis or as a cube which the user can flip around to have 3-6 different, connected views of the same information. This can be portrayed as inside a cube or outside a cube. The views will include:


•  Document Production View where the user composes a long-form text document as efficiently as possible from the sources produced in the other views. This should allow for large documents and notes, in a pleasant working environment, optimised for writing. 

•  Citation / Annotation View of the external world 

•  Connection View with myriads of automated connections shown and coded

•  …


The workflow will consist of a means through which the user can draw forth any internal or external elements, any element authored by the user or anyone else and enter them into a view, manipulate this view and create multiple views, then author the connections into a new, presentable view, called a Document Production View, which can be shared as a document with anyone. 


The dimensions/vectors along which the elements should be automatically organizeable and visible linked to include:


•  Keywords 

•  Date of production / Accessed / Last used

•  Author

•  URL

•  Media Type

•  Length / Size