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Category: Liquid | View

Joe & Sally

The XEROX PARC chapter of personal computing explicitly changed the user from Doug Engelbart’s high-performance knowledge worker to the secretary, whom they called ‘Sally’.

As Alan Kay pointed out, and which Doug illustrated in his seminal ’62 paper with the user ‘Joe’, Doug was trying to make a violin but not everyone wants to play a violin. Today we have the Mac and Windows with their point-and-click ease and limitations, with scarcely an innovation in the last few decades worth mentioning.

This distinction was of course never in black and white and today the average computer user is much more experienced than in earlier decades and of course it is important to provide an entry to a user with a learning curve which is not too steep.

When Doug made the Keynote Address at the World Library Summit 2002 in Singapore, he pointed out that we have made ‘truly tremendous progress’ in using computer systems to help us solve problems. He continues:

But that is not what I am going to talk to you about. Not out of lack of appreciation – even a sense of wonder – over what computer technologists have developed – but because I can see that we are not yet really making good progress toward realizing the really substantial payoff that is possible. That payoff will come when we make better use of computers to bring communities of people together and to augment the very human skills that people bring to bear on difficult problems.
Engelbart, 2018

He clearly presented what he saw as the goal; ‘to get the significant payoff from using computers to augment what people can do’:

Furthermore, Doug discussed the “seductive, destructive appeal of ‘ease of use’ – A second powerful, systematic bias that leads computing technology development away from grappling with serious issues of collaboration – the kind of thing, for example, that would really make a difference to disaster response organizations – is the belief that “ease of use” is somehow equated with better products. Going back to my tricycle/bicycle analogy, it is clear that for an unskilled user, the tricycle is much easier to use. But, as we know, the payoff from investing in learning to ride on two wheels is enormous. We seem to lose sight of this very basic distinction between “ease of use” and “performance” when we evaluate computing systems.”

Sally is now well served by the software community’s continual, gradual improvements. Let’s give Joe another shot, let’s build knowledge work systems like bikes with rockets attached.

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Liquid Projects Near Future Scenario (with Joe using the Dynamic View)

Re-introducing Joe from Doug Engelbart’s 1962 paper as a character doing knowledge work in this new, near-future environment: 

Our user, Joe, needs to write a report of some kind so therefore needs to do some background research. After searching academic journals, Joe reads and looks up terms and searches based on what he sees, all within half a second using a few keyboard shortcuts.  

[exists in Liquid | Flow] 

He then sits down at his virtual desk and writes themes and ideas for his research in a Dynamic View, along the lines of digital Post-It Notes. He moves them around as ‘nodes’ to see how they fit, grouping some and giving the groups names, connecting some with soft lines, others with strong lines and arrows, some with plain connections and others with labels. 

[Dynamic Views are the primary research component to be built inside Liquid | Author] 

In this view he can choose whether to see any of the research materials he went through, based on his annotations, keywords, who cited them, year of publication and so on, and any other relevant material.  

With a flick of the wrist he turns this dynamic view into a traditional word processing view where the nodes become nested headings of different levels.  

[exists in Liquid | Author] 

He writes out what he has found and adds citations to his assertions, including to video clips. When he writes in jargon he has the option to add terms to his hyperGlossary, allowing anyone who will read his report to access his personal definitions. 

The document grows in size and he needs help to remember where everywhere is, so Joe flips back into the Dynamic View, clicks cmd-f and types a keyword. On hitting ‘enter’ the text gets a coloured background and lines shoot out, into the paragraphs where the keyword is found–thick where many are found, thin where few are found. He decides to do a few of these, all with different colours, to better have a handle on what sections has what keyword text. He then remembers that he has saved sets of these searches and clicks to apply them. Instantly many of these search keywords appear, using colours which has meaning for him. In his case anything blueish has to do with tech, red with people, green with companies and blue with science.  

When he is in the word processing view cmd-f on a keyword instantly reformats the document to only show sentences with the keyword, allowing him quick access to context.  

[exists in Liquid | Author] 

He decides that he needs a thinking space for a sub-section so adds one with a click. He then decides this needs more than one brain so he ‘projects’ it onto the web, via a web intermedia system and invites colleagues to look at and manipulate the projection, and add annotations if they want to, or change the layout. Anything they do is reflected in his local copy but with Joe being able to choose which version to freeze into the document when he is done authoring it.  

[This is a collaborative project referred to as ‘Projected Knowledge Graphs’] 

When done, he Publishes the document as a PDF, with a ‘References’ section appended at the end, with the correct formatting of all citations  

[exists in Liquid | Author] 

Furthermore, this is a new kind of PDF, called a Rich PDF, which contains the full original document, and an HTML version with all the metadata appended, inside the PDF in such a way that anyone who only has a standard PDF reader opens and sees the standard PDF but anyone who uses software which understands Rich PDF will use the richer data versions.  

He also Publishes to his blog, which posts the work with paragraph level addressability so that someone who chooses to cite him can cite any paragraph directly, not just the whole post  

[exists in Liquid | Flow] 

Finally, the Publishing includes posting to Linked Open Research services, with all the correct metadata in place and a final copy is automatically sent to an archival quality site. 

Julia reads Joe’s document but doesn’t have the time to go through all the prose initially. She therefore dons her VR headset and chooses one of her preset views and sees Joe’s document floating in a connected space with all her other research, connected by links, keywords, jargon in the form of hyperglossary terms and more. She extracts interesting sections from the document and slings them over to Twitter where they will enter wider cyberspace, firmly rooted in the original document.

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Dynamic Views Research Project (propsal draft v1)

#Abstract#

#Research proposal for building and testing a richly interactive thinking space primarily aimed at students and other researchers, where the author can instantly toggle between a traditional word processing view and a Dynamic View which allows for interactions akin to what’s referred to as ‘concept mapping’ or the KJ-Ho method in Japan.#

#Significance#

#Although text is the main medium of scholarly communication and computer technology has provided powerful new thought augmentation opportunities in fields as varied as computer games, medial research and artificial imagery, the development of richly interactive text systems has seen precious little evolution over the last decades. #

#The opportunity here is to further unleash the power of what Doug Engelbart referred to as ‘symbol manipulation’, giving us the power to interact with our own thoughts and those of others like never before. Doug Engelbart invented much of what we know of modern computing today, largely based on this premise:#

#The feature of humans that makes us most human – that most clearly differentiates us from every other life form on Earth – is not our opposable thumb, and not even our use of tools. It is our ability to create and use symbols. The ability to look at the world, turn what we see into abstractions, and to then operate on those abstractions, rather than on the physical world itself, is an utterly astounding, beautiful thing, just taken all by itself. We manifest this ability to work with symbols in wonderful, beautiful ways, through music, through art, through our buildings and through our language – but the fundamental act of symbol making and symbol using is beautiful in itself.#

#Consider, as a simple, but very powerful example, our invention of the negative – our ability to deal with what something is not, just as easily as we deal with what it is. There is no “not,” no negative, in nature, outside of the human mind. But we invented it, we use it daily, and divide up the world with it. It is an amazing creation, and one that is quintessentially human.#

#The thing that amazed me – even humbled me – about the digital computer when I first encountered it over fifty years ago – was that, in the computer, I saw that we have a tool that does not just move earth or bend steel, but we have a tool that actually can manipulate symbols and, even more importantly, portray symbols in new ways, so that we can interact with them and learn. We have a tool that radically extends our capabilities in the very area that makes us most human, and most powerful.#

#Engelbart#

#Investigating the potential of richly interactive digital text can unlock ever deeper literacies, giving us control and power over our information and our thoughts in ways we cannot even imagine without actively exploring the possibilities. #

#Investigators#

#• Frode Hegland, University of Southampton, Principal Investigator. Email to Frode Hegland from Doug Engelbart 2003: I honestly think that you are the first person I know that is expressing the kind of appreciation for the special role which IT can (no, will) play in reshaping the way we can symbolize basic concepts to elevate further the power that conditioned humans can derive from their genetic sensory, perceptual and cognitive capabilities#

#• [unconfirmed]#

#• [unconfirmed]#

#• [unconfirmed]#

#• [unconfirmed]#

#Dynamic Views Research Proposal#

#Our user, Joe, needs to write a report of some kind so therefore needs to do some background research. After searching academic journals, Joe reads and looks up terms and searches based on what he sees, all within half a second using a few keyboard shortcuts. #

#[exists in Liquid | Flow]#

#He then sits down at his virtual desk and writes themes and ideas for his research in a Dynamic View, along the lines of digital Post-It Notes. He moves them around as ‘nodes’ to see how they fit, grouping some and giving the groups names, connecting some with soft lines, others with strong lines and arrows, some with plain connections and others with labels.#

#[Dynamic Views are the primary research component to be built inside Liquid | Author]#

#In this view he can choose whether to see any of the research materials he went through, based on his annotations, keywords, who cited them, year of publication and so on, and any other relevant material. #

#With a flick of the wrist he turns this dynamic view into a traditional word processing view where the nodes become nested headings of different levels. #

#[exists in Liquid | Author]#

#He writes out what he has found and adds citations to his assertions, including to video clips. When he writes in jargon he has the option to add terms to his hyperGlossary, allowing anyone who will read his report to access his personal definitions.#

#The document grows in size and he needs help to remember where everywhere is, so Joe flips back into the Dynamic View, clicks cmd-f and types a keyword. On hitting ‘enter’ the text gets a coloured background and lines shot out, into the paragraphs where the keyword is found–thick where many are found, thin where few are found. He decides to do a few of these, all with different colours, to better have a handle on what sections has what keyword text. He then remembers that he has saved sets of these searches and clicks to apply them. Instantly many of these search keywords appear, using colours which has meaning for him. In his case anything blueish has to do with tech, red with people, green with companies and blue with science. #

#When he is in the word processing view cmd-f on a keyword instantly reformats the document to only show sentences with the keyword, allowing him quick access to context. #

#[exists in Liquid | Author]#

#He decides that he needs a thinking space for a sub-section so adds one with a click. He then decides this needs more than one brain so he ‘projects’ it onto the web, via a web intermedia system and invites colleagues to look at and manipulate the projection, and add annotations if they want to, or change the layout. Anything they do is reflected in his local copy but with Joe being able to choose which version to freeze into the document when he is done authoring it. #

#[This is a collaborative project referred to as ‘Projected Knowledge Graphs’]#

#When done, he Publishes the document as a PDF, with a ‘References’ section appended at the end, with the correct formatting of all citations #

#[exists in Liquid | Author]#

#Furthermore, this is a new kind of PDF, called a Rich PDF, which contains the full original document, and an HTML version with all the metadata appended, inside the PDF in such a way that anyone who only has a standard PDF reader opens and sees the standard PDF but anyone who uses software which understands Rich PDF will use the richer data versions. #

#He also Publishes to his blog, which posts the work with paragraph level addressability so that someone who chooses to cite him can cite any paragraph directly, not just the whole post #

#[exists in Liquid | Flow]#

#Publishing#

#Finally, the Publishing includes posting to Linked Open Research services, with all the correct metadata in place and a final copy is automatically sent to an archival quality site.#

#Reading#

#Julia reads Joe’s document but doesn’t have the time to go through all the prose initially. She therefore dons her VR headset and chooses one of her preset views and sees Joe’s document floating in a connected space with all her other research, connected by links, keywords, jargon in the form of hyperglossary terms and more. She extracts interesting sections from the document and slings them over to Twitter where they will enter wider cyberspace, firmly rooted in the original document.#

#Research Question#

#The research question is how non-linear thinking spaces can augment the management of contexts and the author’s need to create a linear argument with can be de-linearised by the reader. #

#Components#

#The main component this research project would fund, build and test:#

#• Dynamic View for Liquid | Author: liquid.info/view.html #

#Two components have already been built by me, both for macOS, as described at liquid.info #

#• Liquid | Flow, an interactive text utility#

#• Liquid | Author, a word processor which will host the Dynamic View and which will continue to be developed, independently of this project#

#Three components are being designed by our group who is working to have something to show for the 50th anniversary of Doug Engelbart’s Demo: doug-50.info#

#• The HyperGlossary which is a powerful glossary system linking documents with knowledge graphs#

#• Rich PDFs provide advanced document capabilities without removing legacy access: A full version of the original document and an XML version is embedded into a PDF so that Rich PDF ‘aware’ applications can provide a richer interaction than PDFs can alone#

#• Projected Knowledge Graphs is a concept map/knowledge graph hybrid on the web, our main Doug @ 50 project#

#Resources Sharing & Dissemination #

#The Dynamic View will be made available as a feature of Liquid | Author which is a free software application for macOS and charges a one-time $6 upgrade fee to unlock Publish/Export. These funds will go towards general improvement and upkeep of the software.#

#Furthermore, resulting work product will be made commercially available, initially for macOS systems and later for other platforms, primarily iOS and then potentially Windows, as funds from the sale of the product allows. #

#All code and research will be actively and usefully made public, through code repositories and educational projects to highlight the opportunities of deeper literacies. 

#

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