Peter Fargas
Independent Research & Prototypisation
https://informatik-handwerk.de
Leipzig, Germany
Release date: June 2011
Last update:
Link to authoritative version

Information Media Extensions

☰ Content

Inner realities are paramount to our daily lives, all we do and build. Maybe against the intiution, in fields like research, development, sciences and engeneering, inner realities play a substantial, often neglected, role. There is the communication on, sometimes huge, models of problematics and the effort to communicate often subjective and bias changing opinions, with minimal influence on others in the cooperative effort to find, simulate, measure models in isolation by various means and to collectivly decide on selecting the best variant. Planetwide processes, like politics, economy, electrical network and it's appliances, social implications of new types of global media, evolution theories, genetics and pharmacy, they all are starting to exhibit larger and deeper impact onto the future in life-preserving effort to craft better navigation among all the possible, close and farreaching, challanges ahead of us. In my opinion, humanity is playing with quite a few "toys" and I feel the need to briefly express that I'm not quite satisfied with the ways and reasons for doing so. Personal opinions aside- the research on, extraction of deep knowledge is a complicated subject, leading to often heavy decisions if and on the subsequent implementation. The tool I present here, might help to firstly aid the process of extraction to get fuller resolution on the topics in very complicated domains and secondly help to make better decisions on implementations in almost all domains.

Notes on Usage

Collaborative work in complicated areas requires certain level of maturity from members of the group. One has to understand the implications of expressing own, subjective opinions, of ones influence on other members- to have good estimation and a policy when to present ones opinions, how deeply, when and where to seek consultation. To be capable of such and to be ready to accept the strictness of such an enviroment, are the prerequirements of effective usage of the proposed media.

Despite the formulations stressing usability in groupwork up to this point, the potential of this media for individual usage are equally high.

Origins of the Design

Are written down in my other document Preliminary on Digital Media - whitepaper-ish thoughts and proposals for (developing) digital media.

Proposed Media

I took inspiration from linear, non-linear and interactive media. Due to the nature of linear text and the unevitability of rooting a categorisation, I'm finding it hard to write down a clear reasoning. Such would be much easier in a dialogue, where the linearity can be broken by questions- and explanations can be guided by following non-verbal signals. In dialogue, there are certain turning points- some permitt questions, at some a deeper explanation could come but one decides to skip over them. Theese turning points, they have no names, nothing predefined in them- they plainly exist. This explains the nature of the media very well- it is of the linear kind, but at certain spots, deeper knowledge unfolds on request. All spots look the same. The explanation on the unfolding and the nature of the spots follows.

The standard non-linear media, HTML, is capable of cracking problems stated before. When used in a standard fashion however, opening areas of deeper knowledge by clicking on a link or switching to another tab hides the context and after a while, one looses easily the flow. Therefor, I find a linear unfold inside the "shallower knowledge" more apropriate. There are many types of non-linearity and this is one of them. So the detail-level of information, at first hidden, would unroll lineary inside the higher level- as a paragraph, or formatted in any other fitting way. Ideally, either the text or the resulting unfolded structure should keep the whole fluidly readable, at all stages of unfolding. The possibility of back-folding should be available.

Both types of users (designers/engeneers) would at first see only the basic layer. The engeneer would as well see where the information can unroll and could click on such spots to get into fuller detail. The designer variant would hide existance of such spots and only show them when an unhide button is clicked, possibly restrained to area selected by mouse- having the possibility to unfold them afterwards. This is in accord with absolute non-interference of thought processes. The even deeper layers would behave in the same fashion, per type of user. Obviously, the media should include the option of selecting type of user.

Here is a list of families of functionality implementable, only roughly ordered, with short explanations and only the most basic examples. Concretizing would mean selecting one of the multitude of enviroments where the media could get used- I didn't want to do that. A full listing of possibilities would trap other co-creators in my framework, so I kept only the absolute necessary to clearly grasp the concept. To further strengthen the relevance of research in those areas, I want to point out, that although I'm not informed, quite some depth can be reached from the contents of this text as whole.

  • user could anytime switch to anonymous or any other virtual identity
    Knowing the person which wrote the edit can trap the reader into false expectations/decode framework which may not be apropriate- anonymous solves this. Virtual identity (student, biologist, general public) can be cleverly used as "intelligence behind edit", "apropriate framework", etc.
  • strength of a "rabbithole" spot
    Some information is explanatory, some plunges into the "hardware" of the information. Depending on the reader, some may prefere, some wish to avoid- such or such.
  • tags as a generalisation of previous concepts
    Here, I'd like to stress the concept of meta-data. Both, data and the spots as such might get augmented.
  • using or embedding different media- picture/audio/video/app
    Text is only one form of data. As well, the spot itself may be data-fied in apropriate fashion (icon in dependance on tag presence, etc.).
  • multi-informational spots and different types of unrolling of information
    Spot may be augmented by meta-data, information presented paralelly in various frameworks. A few examples follow. Show me frameworks available. Display information written in framework "analogy with planets" or "evolution theory". For superfast information absorbtion- display only highlighted phrases. Sometimes, knowledge of the meta-data asociated with a spot is enough to proceed deeper into the subject. Etc. Spots could offer available choices on right-click and select according to user settings on left-click.
  • suggesting- empty spots
    "here is no information yet" is information as well
  • permission system for edit/extend
    Extend, correct, tag, change access permissions, etc.
  • private, passworded, spots bound with user-dependant visibility function
    Access modifiers, for various reasons- protecting existance of trade secrets, not relevant for students, etc. Always invisible spots- for the smart ones, I need a coffee, a hidden joke.
  • areal "spots"
  • functional extensions
    Keeping statistics, automated tagging, auto passwording, unreachable spots get available to users which create spots on the same place and reach certain auto-tag or user-tag corelation, edit evolution, read history, auto-suggesting of spots/user unhide by meta-data, crosslinking(areal spots), depending on consistency of usage- maybe rerooting is possible, etc, etc, etc
  • different types of unrolling information
    Information in-depth may be augmented by meta-information and only some part is wished to be shown. As an example, for superfast information absorbtion, to display only highlighted phrases. Sometimes, knowing the size of the rabbithole is of interest, tags like: depth_of_knowledge_written_down, known_depth, probable_depth could be implemented here as meta-information. Full unroll with whitespace instead of text where not yet clicked on could be an interesting way of viewing.
  • backlinking
    The only meaningful way I found was modification of upper layers thru deeper ones: instead of explaining in other words, highlighting is often enough. For editors which don't have access rights to modify other's text but may augment (students for students eg.).
  • crosslinking, linearity brakeout, screen split, etc.