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Compressed Scrolling

When we scroll through a textual document on a computer system the body of the text quickly accelerates into an illegible blur, with headings not far behind in loosing their legibility and thus utility.

I am a gamer, particularly interested in the Battlefield franchise, which is not only spectacular to look at but also has a very well developed sense of movement and weapon and equipment manipulation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZW4cPUIVf4

I have experimented with gestures for a while, including gestures to pinch documents (using your trackpad or your iPad) to collapse/compress the document so that body text disappears and you have a table of contents/outline instantly.

However, what about changing the view based on whether you are still or scrolling, giving a smooth operation into something quite different, like a modern computer game might accomplish? The point here is to ask WHY the user is scrolling, not to simply copy the analog scroll from Egyptian times.

The user is scrolling because she wants to look at another part of the document, which is why Doug Engelbart called this navigation rather than simple scrolling (I expect). So there idea here, which I feel we should put resources into investigating, would be to change the document on scrolling, to maybe move the headings closer and make the body smaller and more grey, apart from any names (or other custom requirement such as instantly replacing company names with logos on scrolling) so that the user flips into a navigation/overview mode when scrolling, not simply shuffling a paper replica.

To find out of this is indeed useful or just a fancy demo would require a very flexible and capable graphics system to experiment on. I think this is crucial work.

I want this guy to have the best reading and authoring experience when he grow up (sidetone, this picture was taken on a  smartphone (iPhone XS Max) and I therefore think our text environments have a lot more power to offer. Let’s explore…):

Published inFuture Of TextLiquid | AuthorLiquid | ViewNotes On...SymbolThoughts

5 Comments

  1. […] to further improve the navigation and display of text in Author and on the web, including through compressed scrolling, dynamic views and more atomic authoring, including though the user of hyperGlossaries. Much of the […]

  2. […] Links are one way to move around between documents (and inside documents with internal links) and so is scrolling, since page number don’t mean much in the case of digital documents. However, even scrolling is a simple legacy behaviour. We are not signalling to the system our desire to move up or down in a facsimile of a papyrus scroll when we put two fingers together on a trackpad and move them up or down. We are signalling our desire to view a different part of the document. This is where something like compressed scrolling can come in where what happens is that the body text is gradually compressed so that the user sees more headings and less of illegible body text. More opportunities are described in the blog post Compressed Scrolling including work I hope to carry out with Howard Oakley: http://wordpress.liquid.info/compressed-scrolling/ […]

  3. […] Links are one way to move around between documents (and inside documents with internal links) and so is scrolling, since page number don’t mean much in the case of digital documents. However, even scrolling is a simple legacy behaviour. We are not signalling to the system our desire to move up or down in a facsimile of a papyrus scroll when we put two fingers together on a trackpad and move them up or down. We are signalling our desire to view a different part of the document. This is where something like compressed scrolling can come in where what happens is that the body text is gradually compressed so that the user sees more headings and less of illegible body text. More opportunities are described in the blog post Compressed Scrolling including work I hope to carry out with Howard Oakley: http://wordpress.liquid.info/compressed-scrolling/ […]

  4. […] The visual aspect is of utmost importance since this is the way the text reaches our brains. The basic typographic considerations remain important in the digital medium and it is further augmented by the potential for the user to rapidly and easily change the visual presentation of the text and other symbols, such as changing colour while scrolling. […]

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