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Category: Liquid | View

Liquid Information Environment – Scenario

Description & Goal | Scenario | Components


At the end of the first year of development, a specific workflow will be possible.

Taking a cue from Doug Engelbart’s seminal 1962 paper ‘Augmenting Human Intellect’, which features a walkthrough of his proposed system by a character named Joe, I here introduce you to Jane, a knowledge worker who needs to do some research and produce a document to inform others of her findings, either in academia or industry.

She starts working with legacy ‘flattened’ PDF documents as she finds them, uses the advanced LiquidSpace and Author to organise her material and thoughts and publishes a resulting document in augmented form; as a Rich PDF, a Journal Article Tag Suite or as a blog post. The resulting document supports high-resolution addressing as well as embedded rich interactivity from her LiquidView layouts:


Research / Literature Review

Jane reads legacy PDF documents in her favourite PDF reader application and highlights interesting sections. This could be on a Mac, on Windows, on a tablet or eReader, whatever medium she feels most comfortable reading in.

She then launches Liquid | Reader on her Mac to go through what she has read. She remembers reading something about ‘hypertext’ so she decides that Reader should only open PDF documents with the word ‘hypertext’. This results in several documents opening to the first occurrence of the word ‘hypertext’. She closes the ones which are not relevant and goes over the one she found interesting. There is some terminology she is not familiar with so she selects the words and instantly gets definitions and other searches through Liquid | Author.


Getting Organised

Once she has found a sufficient amount of information she fires up her LiquidView in her web browser.

Here she can see all of her literature review documents, her notes and anything else she finds pertinent.

First she sorts the literature review by what she found interesting, then she puts a few keywords out on the screen and she can see where they keyword text appears and to what degreed, simply by lines appearing from the keyword to the documents where the keyword appears. She chooses to change the appearance of the documents to show what she has highlighted in each document.

She then opens Author and starts to type her thoughts. When she is on the go she also dictates into the document using her smartphone and the dictated text appears visually distinct from the rest so that she knows she’ll have to do a basic edit of the transcribed text.

After a while of working in Author she opens her Author document in the LiquidView as an outline. Here she can drag her outline headings anywhere she chooses, to better cluster her document. She chooses to have any glossary terms used in her document show up under the headings so that she has a better overview. From this she looks at relationships, hides and shows connecting lines and moves items around at will. She opens trails of thought (quite literally) and does further research. She then annotates some of her layout, collapses it into a Quine and puts it into her main Author document.

In Author she decides that a few terms should not be explained all the time and she is concerned about where to introduce the terms so she quickly and easily turns them into glossary terms with connections to other glossary terms.


Integrating the Resulting Document : Publishing

When she is ready to integrate her new work into the web of knowledge, she publishes to established formats but with additional information to help the next user find her document and to more effectively grasp her thinking and check her citations. The publishing process includes such basics as plagiarism checks as well as an automatic summary so that she can check if the ML gets the right ‘gist’ of the–and if it does not–she can click on any page of the summary to see what constituted the summary section she was not satisfied with.


The Next Link

When someone searches for the kind of information she has published they will have an easier time to find it since the document will be published in such as way as to make servers more aware of the content and hence make it easier for a reader to find it.

The reader who comes across her augmented document will be able to read it in a transitional, legacy PDF reader but would also be able to open it in an advanced reader such as what Jane used to author the document.

When reading the document in a modern reader, he or she will be able to change the view of the document much more flexibly, to find what they are really looking for and to evaluate the document. Citations will be available in a single click, including to documents, books web and video.

Any included views from the LiquidView workspace will remain interactive so that the sources are still attached and the reader can look at the flow and configurations.

Finally, if the reader chooses to cite this document all that needs to be done is to copy any text to be cited and when pasting into any word processor all the citation information will follow along automatically, including the location of the cited text.

When publishing into a liquid information environment the information flows and credibility is increased since the documents are easier to read, citations easier to verify and the information easier to contextualise.


Description & Goal | Scenario | Components



Liquid Information Environment – Components

These are the software components we are starting with and the main and supporting components to build in order to enable the Liquid Information Environment interactions to support the goal of the project:

Main Components To Build (web)

These components are all to be built as free, open-source components:

The information environment we are building is what many would call ‘hypertextual’ so it is natural to use the world wide web as our framework. With this in mind we are developing initially on WordPress with a view to move to Solid when this becomes practical:

Liquid WordPress Plugin (Liquid Flow Web)

We feel that much of the sought after functionality we are looking for to support advanced controls over the threading of dialogue can be implemented and experienced in WordPress:

  • Allows the user to simply do a normal copy command which results in an augmented copy where all the citation information, including location and author name, is included
  • Provides implicit link support (in the continuity of our ‘Hyperwords’ plugin from long ago) and basic ViewSpec functionality
  • Connects to LiquidView for deep integration
  • Means through which the user can perform robust RSS integration with other domains


hyperGlossary is a system which uses WordPress for storage and allows the user to write in a more atomic manner and not have to constantly re-introduce terms, while also allowing a knowledgeable reader to read a shorter document than someone new to the subject or the author’s work. This is in the early phases of testing and will require very little technical work but quite a bit of testing in regular use.

Liquid WordPress Theme

We feel the need to build a WordPress theme to reflect the look of Liquid | Author (though with the usual scope of end-user-customisation) to make documents more fluid to interact with, compared to the myriad of WordPress themes which are designed for pictures or other media, with a large amount of ‘clutter’ to make them more appealing as a sales site.

  • Basic reading view supporting the plugin
  • List view to support fast and easy re-configuration through users own work
  • List view to support fast and easy re-configuration through dialogue


The weblau (‘web-tabluex’) is a web based visual organisation tool which looks like a concept map but the nodes can be active connections to external data, such as being the posts of a blog, wiki pages or knowledge graph nodes. Any layout in the weblau can be shared as a Quine, meaning the code and data can be downloaded and shared.
We have a version in early testing, built by Christopher Gutteridge:


Supporting Applications (macOS)

These components are commercially available and owned by the Liquid Information Company and all proceeds are put back into development:

The Liquid Information Project has seen investment over a period of time with useful results and is currently looking for investment to produce a truly powerful workflow in a rich ecosystem. So far we have developed two macOS applications which are mature but which will need updating to contribute to the workflow and we are developing a small ‘Reader’ to support the others:

Liquid | Author (available)

Liquid | Author, a word processor, will require some work to be able to deliver the the new capabilities, primarily LiquidView interaction and publishing modules, including saving as Rich PDF. Author provides many powerful commands, including: Find information in documents using a more powerful Find view where the document is instantly reformatted to hide all the sentences which do not feature the searched for text and a pinch to collapse the document into an outline option.

Liquid | Flow (available)

Liquid | Flow, a text interaction utility, will require very little additional work but it acts as a glue to connect many of the components, including Author and the hyperGlossary. Flow provides the capability to the user to select any text and perform a myriad of searches and references look-ups (implicit links) and translate.

Liquid | Reader (in development)

The Reader augments the users ability to search legacy PDF documents by allowing searches to be constrained to only highlighted text. Reader will further allow the user to quickly assign citation information to the PDF so that the user can then not only find exactly what they highlighted (something they can do in any application since Reader can open any PDF and extract highlights). This is a minor component but is being developed on the side of the project as an extension for Author.

Liquid | View (concept)

The | View is a desktop thinking space which integrates with the weblau. It is based on an exploded view of the users Liquid | Author document.



Liquid Information Environment : Description & Goal

Description & Goal | Scenario | Components

A basic user interaction issue illustrates how the way documents connect into a conversation is a crucial link which can be improved: Someone writes a thoughtful post for a community of people who are working to do something together. First of all it is worthwhile looking into how we can make the post more findable, skimable and readable as part of making the document a more effective part of the conversation but the core issues for this research are:

  • Someone reads the post and agrees with the general gist but has a few issues with specific points which she would like to address. How can she best address these points in a manner which is not only useful for the author for immediate reading but also for the group over time?
  • How can we provide high-resolution addressing so that comments and what they comment on can be flexibly accessed and viewed?
  • How can such a response be threaded in the future for dynamic viewing by post, person, time or other context?
  • How can others ‘jump in’ to this conversation?
  • How can we build a system to support a new person being able to freely move around in this conversation space to get to grips with what was written and said before, without having to trawl through long posts and a morass of links?

This has been the meat of much hypertext work over the decades and has been solved to various extents in various ways but predominantly in single environments. How can we co-design a system where the author and reader have a choice of system and tools for authoring, reading and threading conversation?

The goal is not to help the author write more, but to help the author write less and to make it more readable and better substantiated since the measure of the success of the document is the quality of the resulting document and how it removes clutter and adds clarity and, crucially, how it can add to the conversation in a meaningful and accessible way. This is in support of the Doug Engelbart CODIAK model and aims to initially provide B feel support but will need to provide C level support as well, over time, primarily through the Future of Text initiative.


Web & WordPress

My initial perspective is that a web based environment is logical place to start, with WordPress providing open and free initial user-spaced and Solid as a candidate for next stage storage. If every comment is an html document/blog post, then, as long as access is granted, the user can choose to view as a dialogue, separate but linked documents, in linear fashion and in a non-linear, more dynamic view. I believe there is tremendous opportunity here.

We aim to build a system of interconnecting components to deliver on this goal, providing an immediate payoff and scope for further work over time, with an initial focus on wordpress to use the web as the substrate for the work. Yes, we can do this. Since this is a proposal for a richly interactive text system, it makes sense to present the proposal itself as a web document using hypertext methods. Please feel free to ask me any questions of course, at

Goals will include making documents as findable, viewable, readable and citable as possible in order to provide a rich a view of the thread of the thread of dialogue which they embody.

Towards Answers

This is a research project, not a commercial project, which means that


User Community

With this project we are looking to augment serious people who are interested in working together to solve problems. We are not addressing political or social issues of widely divergent groups who are not principally interested in growing together. In other words, the initial user community is the community building the system.

We aim to build a system of interconnecting components to deliver on this goal, providing an immediate payoff and scope for further work over time. Yes, we can do this.

Our approach is to contribute to a more liquid information environment by using established protocols to tie together a wider ecosystem of applications and processes to enable a richer workflow and more competition among software developers. This is why the approach is not to build one monolithic application, but a series of interconnected applications, plugins and other tech as necessary, to deliver on the workflow.

The system will interoperate with external products including our partners KnowFlow, Exaptive, TrailMarks and HyperKnowledge.

Since this is a proposal for a richly interactive text system, it makes sense to present the proposal itself as a web document using hypertext methods. Please feel free to ask me any questions of course, at

Frode Hegland
London 2019


Description & Goal | Scenario | Components

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