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Augmented Copy / Clipboard Citation Protocol

Last updated on October 5, 2019

Augmented Copy / Clipboard Citation Protocol

Chris Gutteridge called it ‘Augmented Copy’ and Raine Revere is calling it ‘Clipboard Citation Protocol and its interesting how they both get excited by the concept. Doug Engelbart’s copying system highlighted the need to be able to link to sections in documents (what he called high-resolution addressing) and not just to the documents as a whole. To me this meant that we should use the copy functionality to its rich extent, and try to improve on it further. The clipboard, at least on macOS, contains multiple versions of the copied text (or other data), including with and without formatting.

Liquid | Flow has had a command to copy text as citation for quite a while now and it returns the following when copying from a website, where the date is added by Flow but the URL was made available by the web browser and must have been put into the clipboard:

Trump-Ukraine: Texts show envoy’s alarm over plans – BBC News
“Texts released by Democrats in Congress reveal how US officials worked to push the Ukrainian president into opening a public inquiry into President Trump’s leading opponent, Joe Biden.”
(Accessed Friday, October 4, 2019)

I have spent quite a bit of time today looking through Apple Developer information for how we can see what is on the clipboard but I have not found anything that is useful, mostly just historical notes and code.

Notes on Raine’s Google Docs

“Cut/Copy/Paste represents a fully interoperable, cross-application text transfer mechanism. Can the built-in clipboard be enhanced to include metadata/citation?”

Yes, at least that is what Flow does now. But of course we need to go further and in the case of WordPress at least have the name of the author extracted and appended to the clipboard. Roman is working on that now.

Raine refers to which is how some sites adds a link to the origin page but as Flow shows, this is already in the clipboard, at least on macOS.

“It seems to me (Raine) that a clipboard citation protocol would be a wonderful improvement to the web. Applications may natively add citation data to the clipboard, and a browser extension provides (minimal) backwards compatibility across all web sites. Applications (including web apps) can then add automatic citation handling on paste (à la Liquid | Author).”

Yes this is exciting and could be very useful, particularly if it includes the name of the author AND paragraph level addressability. I have written a brief glossary entry for this: and a note on Author development for this:

The way I propose doing the high resolution addressing is to add anchor tags at the start of all paragraphs and have the copy access them for the link. For Doug I proposed making his ‘purple numbers’ which were numbers for paragraphs, links to the anchor tag on the same line, so that the user could ctrl-click to copy the address of the link it pointed to, which meant it copied a link to that paragraph:

“Frode Hegland, who worked with Doug Engelbart around the time of the Bootstrap “Un- Rev2” Colloquium at Stanford (Q1/2000), suggested some major enhancements to the earlier implementation of the web-based Purple Numbers. In particular, the Statement Numbers were made active. With that, purple numbers are associated with the link information of the anchor to the particular element (heading, paragraph, figure, etc.), and this capability is supported in all current implementations.”

I think we should therefore work on a plugin for WordPress (as Roman is now doing) and see what we will need for the web in general, and I think it’s my responsibility to talk with Jacob about adding anchor tags on posting to WordPress from Author, even though I don’t have much of an appetite for development cost right now, as well as a mechanism for alerting those who I have written about, from Author or maybe from WordPress.

Over to you!

Published inCitation MetaThoughts


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