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How to respond to documents/posts?…

Last updated on October 28, 2015

This was orignally written in reposnse to Sam’s post in response to my post on Liquid | Space.

This was written in Author, with citations and headings and pasted into a WordPress posting app (the official one, on iOS) where most of this went missing. The original .author document is available from

Diary Entry of Sorts

I’m sitting at Starbucks in Putney, London, drinking my old favourite, a con-panna, which is two shots of espresso, whipped cream, some sugar and coffee beans on top, mixed, then iced. No healthy for the body but sometimes necessary for the mind.

Of course I am writing this using Author, on my iPad Air 2, propped up on a 12 South Stand (it’s nice, but too heavy and not tall enough really), typing away on my normal Apple keyboard. The promo video for Author for reading is done, with a quote from Vint to start it off. It’s on Facebook and I hope to be able to promote it there when version 1.6 of Author is approved, which should be any day now. It fixes the crash on start bug which only journalist early users have experienced. Yup. Murphy was involved.

Note after writing this document: It would seem that I came to a useful concision of the last issue discussed, ‘threading’ and I would very much welcome comments, while I did not really get to dive into the document space, something I look forward to discussing with my esteemed Amigos.
Document Dialogue

David Price suggested that the third video should be about how documents relate to each other (the first was Reading and the second was Editing). Now that I have put together a proposal for a basic concept map application (tentatively called Liquid | Space) and Sam has blogged (and emailed) a response, I have to figure out a model for how best to respond to him.

The prime objective is to write my reply in such a way that Sam and anyone else can easily follow the thread of the conversation.

Should I publish on WordPress as a comment or a new post? Should I publish an Author document by emailing it or posting it on the web? Should I maybe design a new discussion forum system?…
As Author Document

Ideally I want to write the reply here in Author but I cannot expect the whole world to read documents using Author and a free-floating document (not published onto the web using a URL to find it or academically using a reference number to find it) will be an issue. If I publish it to a server it would have a URL, but would not be readable by a web browser.

As WordPress Post

Publishing my reply via WordPress would keep things nicely in one place to make it easy to follow the thread, if posted as a new post but is linked from the Sam’s post with a link in the comments. I am however tempted to add a link to the original Author document, since I’ll be writing it in Author.
In New Discussion Forum

Too much work. Stop it now.
Results of Reply

I’ll be replying with basically three types of replies for the issues he highlights: Yes, great idea, I’ll add it to the main spec, No, I dont’ agree and here are reasons.

The point is that my responses will be twofold; comments on Sam’s post and a new Spec document, which should also refer back to the original spec, Sam’s comments and my comments + more of the same in the future.
Free-form vs Meta

There is a temptation to add meta information to the Author document saying what it is in response to. An alternative is to simply write it in the document, as I have here, first sentence all the way up top there.

The Document Space

This leads to questions of the document space. How should documents connect?

Links point to a document but they are ‘dumb’ and not stable.

Citations point with more knowledge of what the point to and point to data rather than location (author name, title and publisher etc.).

Doug had powerful arguments for a back-link database so that all documents knew what documents were pointing to them. Today we have Google searches.

I propose that we develop routines and best practices to give documents in points and out points that are easily searched and letting the reader applications find the thread. A design problem for me is that I don’t like having visual interaction elements in documents and users would not necessarily know how to add this met-to the document.

Let’s play with one idea: On creating a document there is a field, right under the ‘Name of Document’ field, which is ‘Document is in response to’ field for a URL or other document information. This is nice and will be part of the new documents meta-information. Then we get onto the issue of threading:

How to refer to each of Sam’s items is also an interesting challenge. Should they all appear in a spreadsheet format? Or should they appear as citations, each with Sam’s name etc. under them? Or something else?
The thing is, it should be possible to comment on Sam’s issues one by one, or in blocks, while making it clear what he wrote and what I wrote. Furthermore, this should be done in a way that the document ‘understands’ which is which, so that we can build further interactions in the future to help people read through document dialogues. I’ll start here and see how it looks, using Author’s Paste As Citation command on the first section I copied from his post:
The text that follows is from Sam:


Multiple Layouts – created by author

Multiple layouts – selected / controlled by user

Thinking about (all multiples)

relationships (peer-level associations), as well as

drilling into detail (drilling down), as well as

understanding context (drilling up)*
You can see that it is a quote, from the * at the end, but since I used the ‘paraphrased’ category rather than ‘quote’ that’s all you can see. I proposed we add a category called ‘Minimalist Quote’, ‘Quick Quote’, or something like that, and show the text as slightly greyed out to indented. Or both.

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