Skip to content

Incredible Thinking Space (initial thoughts) 03 Jan, 07:31

Last updated on January 10, 2017

Elements of Academic Thought

Let’s start with the Elements of Academic Thought, as discussed in

•  Thoughts : Notes/Writings

•  Something in the World : Citations

•  Thoughts about Something in the World : Annotations

•  Thoughts about Something in Our Work : Comments

These can technically be defined as (using URLs as the means to have items addressable):

•  Thoughts : Notes/Writings  > Text + URL (your own writings needs to be referable in other writing)

•  Something in the World : Citations  > Text + URL (where the text is a preview)

•  Thoughts about Something in the World : Annotations  > Text + URL (where the text is your thoughts)

•  Thoughts about Something in Our Work : Comments  > Text + URL


•  Images and other media also needs to be included as tagged and addressable with description/name for text and URL, so the media can be displayed and manipulated by name or media.

Which presents how important a way of addressing items of information are. It also presents the thought that what is necessary is not a basic word processing environment but a full environment for organising this type of information, with each piece having addressability and (for other reasons) rich meta information (tags) available.

Citable Elements

In this environment citable elements will primarily be digital native elements with rich meta-information attached, but analog and poorly digitised elements can also be incorporated.

A New Environment

The goal of my work is to make information as richly interactive as possible in order to augment the users deep literacy skills of generating as much useful, actionable meaning as efficiently as possible from digital information and to publish as clearly and credibly as possible. 

As such, it becomes essential to develop as liquid an information environment as possible and this will necessitate both the adherence to open standards, particularly where addressing and citing is concerned and to building a complete new environment where the whole cycle of entering the elements of academic thought, thinking about them and publishing them can be done with as rich control as possible. 


It is absurd to design a word processor, a citation manager, concept maps etc. separately but it is crucial that they can be implemented separately, through strong, open APIs to connect the components (to be thought of as components, not separate applications).

The requirements 


•  Addressable items (within the system and externally, so needs to be synched with a web server which will keep identical items for external reference through URLs) 

•  Flexible Attribute Views based on keyword and meta-information (as above) 

•  Flexible Connection Views based on Automated & Manual Manipulation (so meta-information and full text is important) 

•  Ability call forth elements from within and the system and externally

•  A document production view connected to multitudes of other Views (as above), in a tangible manner 

•  Treats text as a first-class item, with real thought as to how to show many text snippets efficiently. Lists of text must be readable and glanceable so the text display will be a major design consideration.

Incredible Thinking Space

What is needed then is an incredible thinking space where all kinds of digital artefacts can added, called forth, viewed in rich ways and presented/shared in clear, credible ways. This is what I will work on designing.


To make the information feel tangible it needs to have stable dimensions so that the user can develop a sense of spatial awareness which maps onto the users brain. This can be achieved in many ways, such as presenting the space in 2D with consistent use of the XYZ axis or as a cube which the user can flip around to have 3-6 different, connected views of the same information. This can be portrayed as inside a cube or outside a cube. The views will include:


•  Document Production View where the user composes a long-form text document as efficiently as possible from the sources produced in the other views. This should allow for large documents and notes, in a pleasant working environment, optimised for writing. 

•  Citation / Annotation View of the external world 

•  Connection View with myriads of automated connections shown and coded

•  …


The workflow will consist of a means through which the user can draw forth any internal or external elements, any element authored by the user or anyone else and enter them into a view, manipulate this view and create multiple views, then author the connections into a new, presentable view, called a Document Production View, which can be shared as a document with anyone. 


The dimensions/vectors along which the elements should be automatically organizeable and visible linked to include:


•  Keywords 

•  Date of production / Accessed / Last used

•  Author

•  URL

•  Media Type

•  Length / Size

Published inLiquid | ViewThoughts


  1. Sam Hahn

    Can you give an idea of WHERE each of these different elements “lives” ie “is stored”? Or are all of these elements in the same “document”?

    If the elements live separately, ie in “author spaces”, then how does one get the “total view” when reading a document?

    If the elements live “in the document”, then how does attribution work?

    This is a start of an interesting design discussion :)

    • Frode Hegland

      Great questions, thank you. I feel that for elements originating in the world, outside of the users system, it should be cached in the system and URL referred to. For items created by the user they should be stored in a local web server so that they use the same addressing by the user and others, through full URLs. What do you think?

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.