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Sentence Tree

A new way of structuring written communication
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The idea is that instead of writing sentences in a linear fashion, you write your idea in a form of a tree. This is should be familiar as they probably taught you this at school when you were learning to write essays.
But why not put the tree structure of your document to good use and spare the readers some time by letting them drill down to some specific idea filtering out the rest.

In practice you could learn what happened in the story of Little Red Riding Hood by reading in the following way:

Level0: Girl was conned by a wolf but won in the end

... now with more detail ...
Level1: Girl was carrying cookies to her grandmother
Level1: A bad wolf spotted her and ran ahead to disguise himself as the girl's grandma.
Level1: Girl arrives in the grandma's house and is suspicious
...
...even more detail
Level2: Girl carrying freshly baked chocolate chip cookies
Level2: Girl sees a stranger approach
...

As you can see if you are in a rush you can filter out the details of the story and get the gist from level0 .. level1 provides more of the plot and level2 has the nitty gritty details. As you can see this format sucks for entertainment purposes since you see the "end" from level0. But if you are trying to learn the story or remember particular details this format is vastly efficient to reading the story from the beginning to the end.
So this means sentence trees are ideal for encyclopedias, business related communication, contracts, textbooks and other "boring" topics we are forced to discuss and understand quickly ... and in some cases instantly

ixnaum, Apr 22 2006

archive.org's copy of www.outliners.com http://web.archive..../www.outliners.com/
Putting this into a bit of historical context; here's Dave Winer reminiscing about the class of editors that were popular in the 80s. [jutta, Apr 22 2006, last modified Apr 23 2006]

FreeMind http://freemind.sou...index.php/Main_Page
a freeware mind-map program that could be used to write this kind of story [imaginality, Apr 24 2006]

[link]






       Hm, don't we have that already? Level 0 = headline; level 1 = executive summary; level 2 = whole story. Of course in that scheme level 1 would usually be dumber and shorter than level 1. Perhaps you are up to something novel.
kbecker, Apr 22 2006
  

       the 3 levels are just an example ... what I'm thinking of are X levels down. All the way down to Little Red Riding Hood's cookie recipe. The point is you should be able to read the text at any level and it should still make sense. Of course, the lower down you go the more detail you will get.
ixnaum, Apr 22 2006
  

       bad wolf
Ian Tindale, Apr 22 2006
  

       There should be some kind of vertical linkage, so that the reader could dive into detail when he wants, and then go back up to a more concise version, a little later.
Ling, Apr 22 2006
  

       This book contains references to cross dressing canines. Parental discretion is advised.   

       ling ... that's exactly the idea of the tree. Why read flat when you could read using a tree structure.
ixnaum, Apr 22 2006
  

       We're both more linear and more random than what trees allow for. I cannot read a tree, just one path through it. I can tell you about my interests in lupine crossdressing, and maybe you can tailor your narrative to those, but that's different from adjusting a level of abstraction. (Before I dig, I don't know whether there's anything to dig for. You know. But we can't talk now, you're telling me a story.)
jutta, Apr 22 2006
  

       It would also make it inherently very difficult to be a literary critic - each view of the tree would result in the impression that the work is saying something seemingly different, with the emphasis and structure promoting a different message. The entrenchment of popularly interpreted paths through the tree would give a different meaning to hitherto untrodden paths after the event.
Ian Tindale, Apr 22 2006
  

       Yes. I want to be able to shift levels of detail in a story at my demand. I want to be able to open a book and read all day about a brick in the wall of the courthouse on Main st. Trees are like fractals.
daseva, Apr 22 2006
  

       //Yes. I want to be able to shift levels of detail in a story at my demand.   

       The interface would be pretty important here. Maybe there could be key or a slider that let's you adjust the "zoom" level as you read. In the end you'd be reading regular pages of text, with the extra freedom to zoom in and out depending on your interests.
ixnaum, Apr 23 2006
  

       You've just invented the "Executive Summary".
zigness, Apr 24 2006
  

       executive summaries provide abstraction of only 1 level. (hardly a tree, more like a stump) ... sentence trees provide many more levels of detail.
ixnaum, Apr 24 2006
  

       This bieng said, I am unsure wether you have really described the mechanics of this idea. There is no proposed interface, just proposed function.
daseva, Apr 24 2006
  

       This reminds me of a Theatresports warm-up exercise, done in pairs, where one player tells a story. The listener can at any point say "Explore" or "Advance". 'Explore' is effectively 'zoom in' - instructing the story-teller to go into more detail about that scene (or, in the case of a second 'Explore', more detail about that detail about that scene). 'Advance' tells the story-teller to progress the story.
imaginality, Apr 24 2006
  

       Oh, it's just like gdb "next" and "step"!
jutta, Apr 24 2006
  

       Textbooks also do this in the form of a chapter summary.   

       Anyhoo, you can already do this in Office with the outline view, plus I take notes in this fashion as well.
Cuit_au_Four, Nov 07 2006
  

       You *could* do it in Office, but not very well. This is a great idea but I suspect it effectiveness hinges entirely on the UI. Words don't tend to lend themselves well to being arranged in this format, but with a properly designed interface this should work well. I'm boning up on actionscript right now (well, obviously not *right* now - now I'm being distracted by the musings of [ixnaum]) and would much prefer this method of learning to looking stuff up in indices and contents pages. Just skim the book and drill down on the bits relevant to what I'm doing.   

       EDIT: FreeMind looks interesting but too far removed from normal reading to make it comfortable. I'm imagining something that reads like normal text but has hyperlinked points to drill down into (maybe with colour coded levels) and a back up button. It would be essential that that point remain static even as new text is added so that your eyes don't lose the flow.
wagster, Nov 07 2006
  

       Very good idea, especially for contracts.   

       There may also be level filters to view different types of information.   

       Financial level: which will show only financial terms.   

       Penalty level: which will show clauses related to penalties.   

       Termination level...and so on.   

       Lawyers like to spread and hide information within contracts, so with this function at hand we may ask the lawyer to reformat it in this manner.
can1073, Dec 15 2007
  

       Office (or Microsoft Word) has an 'AutoSummarize' command.   

       Tell it how many words you want the result to be, and it auto-summarizes it. Let me run it. Ok, this is your idea, at 50% of the original wordage. I touched nothing myself, not even formatting:   

       'The idea is that instead of writing sentences in a linear fashion, you write your idea in a form of a tree. In practice you could learn what happened in the story of Little Red Riding Hood by reading in the following way:   

       Level0: Girl was conned by a wolf but won in the end   

       ... now with more detail ... Level1: Girl was carrying cookies to her grandmother Level1: A bad wolf spotted her and ran ahead to disguise himself as the girl's grandma. Level1: Girl arrives in the grandma's house and is suspicious ... ...even more detail Level2: Girl carrying freshly baked chocolate chip cookies Level2: Girl sees a stranger approach ... As you can see if you are in a rush you can filter out the details of the story and get the gist from level0 .. level1 provides more of the plot and level2 has the nitty gritty details. '
mylodon, Dec 15 2007
  

       4 years delayed ... but thank you for that tip. I was playing with auto-summarize now that you showed me that it exists. Quite fascinating. It works like this:

"According to Ron Fein of the Word 97 team, AutoSummarize cuts wordy copy to the bone by counting words and ranking sentences. First, AutoSummarize identifies the most common words in the document (barring "a" and "the" and the like) and assigns a "score" to each word--the more frequently a word is used, the higher the score. Then, it "averages" each sentence by adding the scores of its words and dividing the sum by the number of words in the sentence--the higher the average, the higher the rank of the sentence. "It's like the ratio of wheat to chaff," explains Fein."

It works ... but only to a degree. For example in the summary you provided, there was undue focus on all the "level0,level1,level2" sentences. Why? beause they occur more frequently ... I would hardly call level1 an important concept in my idea. "specific,details,drill down" are more important, but because they are all different words the algorithm can't make the match and recognize them as the key subject.
ixnaum, Jun 01 2011
  

       even better example ... copy and paste this entire web page into a word document (notepad first to strip out html). Then auto summarize. You will imediatelly see what's wrong. [delete] is a big concept. [delete] survives down to 1%... and yet it's useless as far as the summary of this idea. Why? Beacuse it appears like 20 times in the document so the algorithm thinks it's important.
ixnaum, Jun 01 2011
  

       I favor this form of communication, but sad experience teaches me that software developers are the only people who understand it.
mouseposture, Jun 02 2011
  
      
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