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Category: PhD

Supporting Systems

The Liquid View is part of a wider workflow which is as least as important as the visualisations since if the user cannot comfortably add to the system, interact with it and publish in a useful way, it simply will not be of more than ‘academic’ interest.

Liquid | Flow

The user can use the application Liquid | Flow to create HyperGlossary entries for concepts from any point in their workflow.

HyperGlossary on WordPress

A significant part of the system is the use of WordPress to store what will be the nodes in the view, using the  HyperGlossary system which is a means of using basic formatting for systems to parse. The information stored as WordPress posts uses the Header tags to specify attributes like ‘Short Definition’, ‘Long Definition’ and how they refer to other HyperGlossary Terms/Nodes.

Liquid | Browser Plugin

The user can import PDF documents from download sites and have them automatically converted to Rich PDF documents through the Liquid Browser Plugin. This has the benefit that when the user downloads the PDF document it gets all the useful Citation information appended so that the user can simply copy text from that document into their work and it will automatically be pasted as a Citation, and that the Liquid View will be able to open the full PDF when the user requests.

Liquid | Author

Liquid | Author is the base application for this and is an active, successful application on the macOS App Store. It’s function is as the word processor the student will be authoring their Literature Review in.



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Flow & Storage

The basic flow is that the user imports concepts directly into the Liquid View or by using the Liquid | Flow application and imports documents, books, blogs or web pages via the Liquid | Browser Plugin (which also downloads creates and downloads a linked Rich PDF document).

The user then interacts with this information in Liquid View, where the user can also add annotations and add saves keyword searches.

The result can be exported into Liquid | Author as a live view and then onto other formats, including Rich PDF, JATS, Word and so on.




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Liquid View Interactions

The interactivity is always around a focus point–a pivot point, a useful way for the user to be able to really grasp this connected data.

Shortcuts will be included for toggling the views such as ‘Document Citation Flow View’ or keyboard shortcut ‘p’ and People Citation Flow View’ keyboard shortcut ‘d’ to support fast flowing interactions.

Of course, other, wider views should be available as well, this post simply examines the left-right Flow view.



Centrally important though is the speed and ease of interaction (by a basically trained user). McLuhan pointed out that the difference in speed can itself transform one media into another. He used the example of showing a different picture 24 times transforms it from a still picture to a move.

This is why I advocate the Liquid View being instantly available from the word processing view, either as a module in the same app or at least as an instantly accessible local app, and not a web service. The visual change of the screen and the delay adds a significant cognitive load and slows down the user’s flow.


Further Notes

  • User can choose which nodes to view, by what attribute.
  • Users can create a fresh node easily, which is then stored.
  • User can interact with nodes to extract further nodes or connections, as well as hide/show nodes and more and to assign what the nodes are, such as concepts, people and so on.
  • User can layout the elements manually or choose automatically assisted layouts for simple alignments, by arbitrary attributes and by timeline.
  • Attributes of nodes/metainformation includes their context/origins where available (such as where they were lifted from) and any tags and other annotations the user or system assigns.
  • Connective line elements can be manually or programatically spawned
  • Visual graph elements added by the user to clarify the layout includes text and lines/arrows.
  • User can save layouts and quickly toggle between them.
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