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Written internet

Write and hyperlink documents directly on the internet
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It's been alleged that typing changes the content of text and that print alters the perception of reality itself. Such matters as attention span and careful consideration might be impaired by ASCII-based text, and the very existence or ASCII, Unicode and the like implies a print-like view of writing as consisting of a linear series of discrete but type-identical characters.

With today's wealth of storage, we're not tied to that kind of textual representation. With a graphics tablet and touch screen or a stylus it's easy to produce an image of handwriting, but a mere raster-scanned image is not adequate for these purposes.

So this idea has two separate aspects: a way of storing and reproducing pen-marks on a notional surface and a way of linking handwritten documents. Unfortunately this is based on monoline rather than a shaped nib or brush, and is monochrome, for purposes of simplicity.

It seems relatively simple to store a series of turtle-graphics-ish or other vector instructions for reproducing a piece of handwriting, combined with pressure, since graphics tablets already do this. Therefore, the first part of my proposition is that for some purposes, the notion of characters composing a text be abandoned in favour of handwriting, pen drawings, doodles and the like, stored as a series of vectors and pressure information.

When the document is viewed by others, it can be in the form of handwriting. This brings several benefits. One is that writers express themselves differently in handwriting and are maybe less likely to rant, type long screeds of bollocks and the like. Another is that the emotional content of the text is retained - haste might be inferred from untidiness, anger, frustration and emphasis from pressure. There is also a more fluid relationship between illustrations and text in that they become part of the same task and may be more spontaneous. The identity of the writer is harder to spoof. Also, the fact that various features of the input have become quantifiable allows manipulation and analysis in various ways - upright text can be changed to italics, if there's anything in graphology a formal system would exist which could make it quantifiable and testable, crossings-out can be removed and handwriting made neater by being editable in an offline sort of way.

Hyperlinking would be done differently. In a sense, linking of this kind has existed for centuries in the form of footnotes, indices, tables of contents and quotation. My second proposition is to bring this back. A link is indicated by a horizontal line over the word. The text or other series of pen marks linked to is then bracketed using distinctive punctuation, and the entire text selected is the minimum unit to which linking is possible. This prevents quoting out of context and possible interference with attention span. Hypertext is fine and wonderful, no problem with that, but this is an alternative.

The subject content of the text would not be explicit without some kind of tagging. That isn't necessarily a problem, just a difference. It means that each document is difficult to locate, perhaps leading to more concentration being invested in reading it and more value being placed on each text as a whole rather than fragments.

This would not be the World Wide Web because it uses neither its style of hyperlinking or documents in ASCII or HTML, so it would need its own application to access it. Clearly there is a problem with visual impairment It's not a replacement for either WWW or paper documents and they can't be substituted for it because it has different features, for instance it still links distant users together, but it doesn't remove the emotional content, the fluidity or the presence of someone using a pen and paper. It does, however, allow people to collaborate.

nineteenthly, Jul 21 2010

Here http://firmuhment.tumblr.com
Most recent entry is, ironically, typed. [DrWorm, Jul 21 2010]

Microsoft Implementation Methods http://msdn.microso...brary/ms812502.aspx
From Tablet - to XML - to SVG [zen_tom, Jul 22 2010]

Wikipedia: Inkscape http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inkscape
"Inkscape is a vector graphics editor application. It is distributed under a free software license, the GNU GPL. Its stated goal is to become a powerful graphics tool while being fully compliant with the XML, SVG, and CSS standards." [zen_tom, Jul 22 2010]

Incscape FAQ http://wiki.inkscap..._Inkscape_run_on.3F
..."Can I create webpages with it?...Sort of"... [zen_tom, Jul 22 2010]

Anno http://www.flickr.c...439@N00/4818145204/
- [nineteenthly, Jul 22 2010]

Anno2 http://www.flickr.c...439@N00/4817593007/
- [nineteenthly, Jul 22 2010]


       Neither did I, but if it's relevant, I know that there is a blogger that handwrites his blog entries before scanning and posting them.
DrWorm, Jul 21 2010

       I didn't understand it either. When I wrote my PhD I was given a really useful piece of advice: I was told that if I couldn't summarise my entire PhD in a single concise, readable sentence, then I didn't know what I was talking about. What I then found was that writing this sentence was difficult but hugely helpful, as it crystallised in my mind what I was actually saying in my PhD.
hippo, Jul 21 2010

       That's actually supremely relevant, [hippo], because as it happens this is a modification of an old doctoral thesis idea i had about twenty years ago!   

       I had the impression that word processing changed the inherent nature of a document but hadn't pinned down how.   

       OK, in a sentence, though typed in a hurry rather than written on a piece of paper (lots of distractions too):   

       The abundance of data storage allows us to liberate nonverbal meaning from text while the connections afforded by networking digital devices allow a wider range of users to interact using a vector-based method of representing that text which includes the non-verbal and allows a smoother flow of thought.
nineteenthly, Jul 21 2010

       Ironic as it seems, the complexity of script, writing, cuneform, or etc. is apparent when rendering the text after machine reading.   

       An advanced machine should be able to isolate glyphs of my writing, read a considerable portion of it, and offer me a resource for edits. The same machine should be able to offer me instructions in my own handwriting, and I presume that software capable of making logical distinctions based on word meaning and context could offer suggestions for word use based on the placement, size, and relative strength of certain glyphs in a much greater range of mood than would be practical for me (e.g.,takes me forever to choose to emphasize).   

       I like the [idea]. I don't think today's machine-readers are up to the task, but the 'net holds patience if you look beneath the surface chop & froth.
reensure, Jul 21 2010

       I may have misunderstood you, [reensure], but are you suggesting converting writing to ASCII codes or some kind of markup? My thought is that no conversion is necessary, just a stream of something like Postscript or turtle graphics but with extra pressure information, then a method for linking. I think this has been possible using hardware since the eight-bit era if the pressure is left out.
nineteenthly, Jul 21 2010

       Although not his PhD, Michel Foucault said of his History of Madness, that it took 'them' 16 years to get it down to a single sentence.   

       And in his Archeology of Knowledge he discusses the grammatical construction of sentences that are possible without preconditions or discursive formations required for the creation of meanings. Ultimately, [hippo], this means that you might have been shortchanged into writing something status-quo than discourse-changing.
rcarty, Jul 21 2010

       // it crystallised in my mind //   

       [hippo], your mind is a crystalline structure ?   

       We are impressed. We are prepared to pay top dollar for the technology. Call us.
8th of 7, Jul 21 2010

       Gives furiously to think. I hope you don't mind if I comment piecemeal, without segues.   

       //Such matters as attention span and careful consideration might be impaired by ASCII-based text// In my time I've had to read through a lot of handwritten records, nowadays, blessedly, electronic, and I assert _vehemently_ that attention span and careful consideration are _enhanced_ by ASCII-based text. Although Unicode is also acceptable.   

       //more fluid relationship between illustrations and text// This, I agree with.   

       I have experience with one example where something (not writing: computer programming) normally done in text was done graphically. A great deal of cleverness went into the system, and I enjoyed it for that, but in the end, it was far less practical than the conventional approach, and caused me much frustration. But this opinion should be taken with a grain of salt: I don't even like GUIs.   

       //I was told that if I couldn't summarize my entire PhD in a single concise, readable sentence, then I didn't know what I was talking about.// [ninteenthly] Do you agree with that, or do you, like Bohr, believe that clarity and accuracy are like position & momentum? Because, if you agree with it, there's a certain irony about this post.   

       I think Nicholson Baker wrote a book-length polemic against the digitization of print (not manuscript) library records, asserting the value of the marginalia, tear-stains, pressed flowers, & whatnot that were lost in the process.   

       I oppose new conventions for doing hypertext on paper on grounds that there's already a very mature, well-developed set of conventions: Headings & subheadings, footnotes, citations, indices, appendices etc.
mouseposture, Jul 21 2010

       // if you agree with it, there's a certain irony about this post //   

       You can't be sure about that, if you, like Bohr, believe that clarity and accuracy are like position & momentum.   

       Why not ask Heisenberg - if, that is, you can work out where he is. You may have to settle for thinking you know how fast he's moving.
8th of 7, Jul 21 2010

       // are you suggesting converting writing to ASCII codes or some kind of markup? // some kind of markup   

       ... either that or compilers that read handwriting and encode a net-based GUI to accept and markup handwriting.
reensure, Jul 22 2010

       PDF behaves a lot like one would imagine paper-like hypertext (hyperpaper?) to. I wouldn't advise making the web work like that though.
Spacecoyote, Jul 22 2010

       I'm currently engaged in a mathematics course with the ou and while other subjects provide methods for uploading digital documents for marking, due to the various requirements for sketches, formulae and what have you, we have to submit old-fashioned pieces of paper.   

       Now there are methods for making sketches, clever markup languages for formulae and all that, but there's no common method (short of using a graphics tablet to create an image - which is a reasonably mature technology these days) for generating this kind of document. I wouldn't be surprised if there were some kind of tablet input to SVG output program that provided much of the functionality outlined, creating lightweight, easily transmissable documents in a format that's already an accepted (if not ubiquitously implemented) standard.
zen_tom, Jul 22 2010

       (My annotation is still in the post.)
Ian Tindale, Jul 22 2010

       See link.
nineteenthly, Jul 22 2010

       Hold on .   

       //This brings several benefits. One is that writers express themselves differently in handwriting and are maybe less likely to rant, type long screeds of bollocks and the like//   

       That's not logically sound. At least a typed message contains recognisable characters. Emotional and typographical freedom that writers may experience while scrawling their messages may actually just translate the same long screed of bollocks - but with atrocious penmanship.
Three cheers for the illegible internet!
Jinbish, Jul 22 2010

       See link.
nineteenthly, Jul 22 2010

       Incidentally, those two are experimental. I'm not abandoning the HB for Flickr.
nineteenthly, Jul 22 2010


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