Skip to content

What to Graph

What to add dimensions too?

Where I am today I have to make some decisions based on what to focus on: Authoring or Reading? Integrate into Author or free-standing?

A huge issue with doing a workflow based on citations is where the data should come from. At some point the user will want to know what a given document cited and this would involve access to extract citations from the bibliography/references section or other data source and even harder will be the issue of finding out who cited this paper. These issues have been solved to various degrees by various people for various disciples, with serious work starting with the work of British historian and information scientist Derek J. de Solla Price (1922-1983) XXX

What I am not interested in is doing a general concept/mind map/graph tool, this is already done perfectly well by tools such as and Scapple

What I am very interested in:

  • Should be useful
  • Should fit in a workflow
  • Should be able to contain elements (content and indications/annotations) which are not visible in the word processing view
  • Should be realistic for me, in other words it cannot have a ‘magic’ step where data becomes available which is not available easily today, such as automatic citation extraction from a document etc.

Christopher Gutteridge collaborated with me to build based on my initial ideas for a ‘dynamic view’ for Liquid Author since he had already built something along those lines. Mark Anderson suggested that my initial idea for this view–which would take headings and turn them into nodes–would be likely most useful at the start of a writing project and that makes sense to me.

I have committed to augmenting the student work of doing a literature review (LR) however, using a ‘liquid view’ (current name) but I am realising that there will be a major issue with data collection.

So I am at a crossroads/back at square one: Shall I work on a view based on documents (as well as their authors, host organisations and concepts) or on headings in a document (as well as glossary entries, citations etc.)?

If I work on the documents one, for LR, then it’s that issue of where to get the connective data.
If I work on headings for brainstorming as the main focus there will be issues of what to show and how to move things around in sections, since this will be another view of a word processing document, hence the integration into a workflow.

In the headings/word processor document implementation the clear thing will be to allow the user to move level 1 headings around freely and to choose to have a view where headings below this level ‘snaps’ to the level 1 headings in a list or are all free to cluster and have some sort of optional visual connective lines or a quick way to snap under the headings–a core point here is developing not just a view but efficient ways to flip between different views.

Further issues would include how to show concepts/glossary terms in such a view. If they are initially shown under the headings where the user has typed them in the regular view – what happens if the user drags them to another heading? Since they are not discrete items they should either move as a sentence, leaving behind either nothing or a crossed or greyed out ghost for the author to confirm when in the word processing view. The user could also choose to have a term or any keyword as a free-floating element which has connective lines to where it occurs in the body text, under what headings.

It is a very different thing to arrange headings in a freeform space to create a document and seeing nodes in connections but both are potentially useful and important.

The Liquid Glossary system of storing a glossary term as a WordPress article I believe has real potential to help the user create them and thereby learning about the connections and seeing how they connect and communicating this. Can this possibly co-exist in the same space as the headings?

It could happen if there are layers in this view but that seems a bit cumbersome. At any rate, it should be possible to easily choose what to see and hide, in terms of levels, types of elements etc. I currently believe that the prime use of a glossary term is to read its definition, not to see its connections, though the connections should be clear but can be links inside a pop-up ‘card’ or something.

Pause. A key aspect of this kind of view is to show clusters of nodes and connections. Consequently, this is particularly not good for showing a linear argument.

When authoring a document what is useful to do is some sort of ordering and keeping things to the side.

A realisation inspired by Wendy’s book is that headings are structurally related, not semantically. Headings are ‘headings for sections’. This means that in the graph view they should also act as headings somehow, but let the terms (defined and having a WordPress glossary entry and perhaps be presented in bold and undefined, having been just written down brainstorm style and not having a WordPress entry {yet} and maybe in normal font or greyed out) be the main focus with the headings somehow ‘on top’, vertically or layered.


And after working on this in many ways and taking baths and driving the beautiful baby boy to monkey music and enjoying seriously good coffee, I have decided that headings and terms are, at least to some degree, mutually exclusive. This means that I will:

  • Continue to support pinch in for Outline since an outline is a linear thing, at least primarily, but will continue to tweak it and add better context and the ability to edit the outline in that view, as long as the user is in Edit mode of course.
  • Support pinch out to transition into Concept mode. In this mode any glossary terms used in the document will appear. If they have been added in this view (double click on desktop to add) then they will be grey. If they have
  • In this view it will be possible to view the headings and use them for chunking, if desired.
  • The elements supported are
  • documents (as cited) shown in italic
  • people (from document name or manually written)
  • institutions (also from document names or manually written)
  • concepts in general
  • freshly entered loose text, which does not have a WordPress entry and which will appear in normal font, greyed out. Double click to generate a Glossary entry.

A question becomes what to call the elements on the screen which are stored in WordPress posts: Nodes, Terms, Glossary Entries, Posts, Concepts? Since they can reflect the elements listed above they are not pure concepts but they have typed links and that makes them more related to concepts. A key aspect of these items is that they are the same in any view so maybe some entirely new name would be better? Pods, Spark Points, Hyperwords?…… It would be nice to bring that term back. Maybe something more liquid though? Liquid words (too close to Liquid text I guess), drops, pools, oceans, streams?!!

To be continued. I like ‘hyperwords’ though. When creating what we currently all a wordpress glossary entry, we can say: Create hyperword. When clicking on one you get hyperword options…

Published inLiquid | ViewPhD

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.