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Tag: Doug Engelbart

Liquid View Presentations Tests

I have been using Scapple to map out how Doug Engelbart’s process fits the academic document process, which turned out to be quite useful to see where there was a mismatch (Doug was not concerned with the career of the academic, only the work, at least in his formal models). The process was also useful exercise in testing out how a real-world project would use a Liquid View, in that I could not simply freeform layout everything and anything, it needed to have a means through which it would be done in a Liquid View.

This is the full size screenshot:

I took the screenshot and annotated it in Keynote:

Jacob has cleanly separated the word processing view and the TOC outline view in Author so I can’t wait for Author to ship so we can start to experiment with these views…

Another exercise from today highlights the need to allow the user to add borders:

Comment from Mark Bernstein (email 6 August 2017):

“Perhaps it does, but the illustration doesn’t make the argument, at least not to me, at first glance. The right-hand slide, which I suppose is a Engelbart creation from relatively late (1990s?), is not a distinguished slide.
The left-hand slide, which I think is yours, is significantly clearer.  It’s got two borders. The lozenge around “external environment” does not appear to have a purpose at all, and is also oddly placed; why not center the text? Why, for that matter, is the environment, which by definition encompasses everything, enclosed?  The second border is better, but it prevents a confusion which would not in fact occur; there is already sufficient white space to distinguish this list from other lists in the view.”
My thought in reply to this is that he is right but we may need to figure out a way to add labels to arrows, which is only a related issue.
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Preamble to PhD, 23 Jun, 11:27

My friend and mentor Doug Engelbart sent me the following email:


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.

Engelbart, 2003

My intent with this PhD project is to pursue this legacy by pushing as far as I can beyond what current text interactions are, towards a state of richer text-interaction systems resulting in a deeper literacy for the user. The work will centre around a software system developed quite literally from a blank slate, where a major work output will be the continuous exploration and research being written up and made accessible to others who are also wrestling to get the most out of the written word.

My initial user community will be scholars who are interested in improving their textual document interactions, not simply following the paper-like models we have inherited quite blindly. I have already starting connecting with such individuals and building a nascent community. 

The areas of inquiry will then include areas outside of computer science, since it is of course the user I aim to augment, not the computer systems. There will be limits to the depth of research I can do in the other fields of course, so I will focus primarily on the implementation and testing on the software system, inspired by the insights gleamed from other fields. 

My direction therefore mirrors Doug’s own, though this is a different project and I come at it from my own point of view:

The conceptual framework we seek must orient us toward the real possibilities and problems associated with using modern technology to give direct aid to an individual in:

comprehending complex situations, 

isolating the significant factors, and 

solving problems.

Engelbart, 1962

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