Chat Log: https://futuretextlab.info/2022/02/05/tr-4-feb-2022/
Mark Anderson : I just seen your email, I will the bit that I’m confused, I know. You know, it’s all what you’re used to, but the thing I’m still trying to wrap my head around is what what things are called, because the word press basically is personal blogging software. So you have the focus sodomy problem that once we’re going to use it for multiple people, we need to have, we we need to avoid the thing where everyone just labels things whatever they need and it becomes a hot mess. Or else what it ends up is a janitorial task. It’s a bit like it’s a bit like looking after a wiki. There’s always some poor benighted person who’s constantly sweeping the aisles and turning.
Frode Hegland: It’s just a matter of people having a bio up. It’s not
Mark Anderson : One. Where’d you go? I mean, the point is
Brander Zachernuk : That you’re right.
Frode Hegland: You’re just write. If you go to the site now and look on a recent post to put one up, I put one up. It’s just literally we, you know, kind of who we are for our glossary is
Mark Anderson : Now let’s all sorted across purposes. The bit I don’t get because I’m not used to using blogging software is. So I say you just give it any random name for
Brander Zachernuk : You, give it your name,
Mark Anderson : Right? So you name the article what you want the title of it to be.
Frode Hegland: Yeah, if you go to the site now and check on recent post, you can see
Mark Anderson : I looked it. The reason I’m asking is that it doesn’t make any sense to me because I’m not used to using blogging software. I’ve been writing. I’ve been writing HTML since the early 90s. I know how to write an HTML page. I’m less clear about the way the basically the design intent of the blogging software, which basically seems to be like a laundry heap where you throw stuff on and whatever’s on the Typekit.
Frode Hegland: I’m not asking you to do some kind of an in-depth blogging protocol here. I’m just asking if you can write the paragraph below and put it on a post.
Mark Anderson : Yes. Yeah, and I and all I’m asking is is the bit that you’re the bit that that is sliding between us is the the process. So you come with an intent. So basically presumably you choose the name before you start for the page because the page becomes the URL, the permalink to it. And you know, if this is the journal, so it’s not just us random, it’s not the content the content is clear about. I’m talking about us having some discipline into the naming of things so that because the other thing, the other weakness of the blog is it’s very dependent on focusing on key key wording, which is fine if it’s one person. But I’ve noticed in any blog I follow, what actually happens is it goes through a meltdown about every six months with a keyword world at which point
Frode Hegland: That’s for tagging and all of that stuff. Nobody has done it. We’ve had the site for a month. Right, so I’m also trying to understand why nobody has done it.
Mark Anderson : Well, I was explaining because when I look at the EU, I don’t know where to do stuff. That’s all I’m explaining. So it seems obvious to you, it’s not obvious to everybody. That’s all.
Frode Hegland: Mark, I sent the the log in is, you know, if
Mark Anderson : I got it right.
Frode Hegland: And then you just I’m trying
Mark Anderson : To think in visual terms, what I’m saying is what’s obvious to you is clearly not obvious to me. It’s as simple as that. I can’t put it. I can’t put a similar thing. I see that. I see that page and I don’t really know what I’m supposed to be doing. I know, I know what I’ll add, but I’m not used to using a web process.
Frode Hegland: I’m trying to tell you that you’re literally just right, as though it’s notepad or something. Your bio or paste it in with the the subject is your name. Then you write your bio on the body and then you post. If you want to, you can assign a category team. But beyond that, we haven’t said anything up for for links or categories or tags or anything like that. So that’s it’s really probably a lot simpler than you expect.
Mark Anderson : Yeah, that’s what’s confusing me, I can write, I mean, I can write an HTML page and that makes perfect sense to me, you know? And indeed, I’d much rather write in plain text than in a whizzy week thing because I just find all that confusing because it’s just lots of visual noise. But okay, well, I’ll take a look. So the the issue isn’t actually having some content. The issue is understanding the UI.
Brander Zachernuk : I don’t know. I mean, it’s very counterintuitive.
Frode Hegland: Peter, can you also put up a bio on the site, please? We’ll do. Thanks.
Peter Wasilko : I just shot out an email agreeing with you on your branding. And also, I included a link in the email on a new piece of Abbey. Michael Maggie Appleton just dropped, calling for an open block protocol for the web and looks like something that we might want to get involved in. Let me find that link, and I’ll paste it into the chat here.
Mark Anderson : I’ve got it open. I can do that for you. Oh, great. I was just looking at it.
Peter Wasilko : So we got that. Thanks. Oh. Because it occurred to me that they might be able to update their protocol a little bit to automatically generate visual meter for the individual blocks. So that would be a real nice way for us to interact with that group.
Frode Hegland: Or even just use what they have, if you look at the post number seven. Property values, values and Jason, that’s exactly the same as what we used in Visual Meadow, I think, for the game of a flight.
Mark Anderson : Yeah. And the useful thing is nothing else, just just just drawing the links to the fact that there’s no there’s no lack of alignment between. The, you know, effectively visual better and some of these other things. Because that will help us pull the screen together, because in a sense, you know, what visual message should grow to encompass is is in a sense, a sort of skeleton of which to hang all sorts of other bits of metadata. I mean, that’s that’s what I’m seeing it coming to me. We started in the, you know, space in the sort of digital print domain. But I think we discussed was it probably in the last beat up? How as you step, for instance, from one environment from a sort of 2D digital environment to a 3D one, you’re going to want to pull along all or have all sorts of attendant metadata, which may not be in the visual metaphor itself, but needs to be referenced as a part of the way of objects understanding where they are in the world.
Peter Wasilko : That seemed like a really nice and relevant development for us to take a look at.
Frode Hegland: Yeah, it looks interesting. Just to having a look.
Peter Wasilko : I think technically we’re really well positioned.
Frode Hegland: Yeah. So, Bob, how are you? I say you have gone a little bit in the background in the early minutes there when we’re starting wondering who’s here today other than Mark and Peter?
Bob Horn: I I click off my video when I’m uninterested in the topic. That’s fair enough. And I don’t know if I can create a trend in that direction or not, but I’m just not interested in technical people talking technical stuff that I don’t understand a bit of, but I rely on a great deal and I appreciate all your work. But I just, you know, if I’m coming to the future of text, I’m more interested in the future of text or and even general, even the slightly larger topic of the future of thought improvement. So that’s. That’s where I come from these days. That’s what I’m working on with a couple of universities. University of Melbourne and the University of North Carolina State and we’re trying to understand how intelligence and analysts might be using narrative and not have much of a methodology for understanding or evaluating how they deal with narrative.
Mark Anderson : Bob, it’s a it’s that it’s that best cardio and how it,
Bob Horn: You know, in Melbourne, the place that I’ve been dealing with is the Hunt lab right there. It’s called the Hunt Lab for intelligence analysis. I worked with them for the last well since about. Oh, twenty seventeen as a contractor, although the director and I have been very close colleagues and I’ve helped him out as a volunteer for many years before that, maybe 20 years before that. Tim Tim, Tim van Gelder. And the North Carolina State group is. Is a young woman psychologist named Brew Christine Brew. Are you JH? Anyway, that’s it’s a funded project and and we’re working away on it.
Mark Anderson : You know, because it sounds linked to someone I met through a tinderbox community called TED Göransson
Bob Horn: Ted, what
Mark Anderson : Ted Göransson Goren, who basically was working well doing similar funded stuff for lettered agencies and is now in Australia and he’s now in fact works with now married to someone called Beth Cordier. And they were doing all sorts of narrative deconstruction of video all to the same end, which is basically trying to work out if you can parse out the narrative from a video to understand what’s going on in it. I find it a bit brain meltingly complex,
Bob Horn: But really interesting. Could could could you send me a link to them? Thank you very much.
Mark Anderson : I’ll probably have to do it after this because I need to.
Bob Horn: That’s all right. No, no, no, no rush, no rush. But the attempt to parse narrative would be very relevant to what we’re doing, particularly we’re just getting started. So we’ve declared that there isn’t a theory. There isn’t a way of evaluating it, and there isn’t a methodology, so anything any help would help.
Mark Anderson : Yeah, I mean, I think the lineage of it is it was an attempt to move on from the generation things where people were doing very fast analysis of spoken word and someone said, Well, you know, people are people aren’t aren’t just speaking anymore. They’re sending other stuff. We need to figure it out.
Bob Horn: What we’re what, we’re what we’ve done at least one one experiment and last few years ago and then what we’re planning to do is to have teams of analysts work on specific intelligence problems, geopolitical problems or, you know, terrorist problems or something like that and and have them communicate in in a chat like space such that we can see all of their communication and then we can make either identify specific moves that they make in the way of creating a narrative or evaluating the narrative or infer those kind of moves which they where there’s only just a little bit of evidence like, huh? Or what are you saying about that sort of thing? That’s what we’re doing.
Mark Anderson : Yeah. I put a couple of names in the chat and I can probably find it at least one slightly tangential paper TED put up on this. It was, it was only a short paper on this in the. It was at Hypertext. Twenty seventeen.
Brander Zachernuk : Yeah. Anyway, sorry
Bob Horn: To follow up. I’ll follow up with you. I mean, with an email or something, if I can, if I can find it. Yeah.
Mark Anderson : A piece Peters got to stand up,
Peter Wasilko : If you might also want to look at some of the work Roger Shank did at his Institute of Learning Sciences at Northwestern before its funding from Arthur Andersen got pulled when Andersen got trashed by those rogue prosecutors. He was looking at large bodies of video and looking for thematic structures in them, chopping them up and reorganizing them and building systems to be able to relate them pull examples together. The other thing to look for is a Google search on Engines for Education, which was a hypertext book that summarizes that work. It originally came out as a Mac Teixeira CD-ROM product that can no longer be run on any current Mac. So the disc itself was utterly useless, but the text of the book is available, and they also have links to a number of the static videos that you can still watch. Wonderful, and you have the link to that site, I got dig it out. I wrote Down Engines for education to make sure that I follow up on that. I do have one of Shank’s books, but it’s a little early on and I didn’t find it extremely useful. I think it was when he was just getting started. Yeah, this work is much more applied and I’m posting the link for the book website there. He also did a more recent book on future decision making. Let me duck into my library, I’ll be back with the title in a minute. Ok, I’ll return very shortly. Thank you. Thank you for asking what I’m doing.
Frode Hegland: Oh, that’s good. We haven’t seen you in a while, so that’s good. Yeah. Brandel. I saw you have been talking to Maggie, so that’s kind of interesting. But also, I think and sorry, Bob, that you’re relatively new here to just bring up the thing of I think everybody in the group wants to should be really good if we can put bios up on on our blog. Mm hmm. Because then we can kind of use that also in the newsletter and so on. That’s cool, right? Brandel, can you? Are you OK putting up a bio?
Brander Zachernuk : Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Frode Hegland: Ok, all right. Good. And then I was supposed to send out an kind of an article piece today, but it just got messier and messier. And then I had to ask more and more fundamental questions. And within the real world, reading up a lot on what Apple is doing. There’s a ton of public stuff, of course, what companies they bought and patterns and all of that stuff. And looking at all these huge companies doing huge things, I think we really need to narrow it down and try to focus on what we can actually do. That’s useful. I think a lot of the stuff that I was doing of the actual person in that space, I Brandel again, I’m just talking about narrowing. We should decide on narrowing down to what to do because there’s a little bit of that joke of, you know, drunk guy walking down the street by a lamp. Police officer says, What are you doing? I’m looking for my keys. Or did you lose them here? No, but it’s too dark where I lost them. Right. We have to make sure we don’t just do the fun stuff, we also have to look at where we can actually make any kind of a useful contribution, you know? Yes. Agreed. And one of the issues there may be is what is actually unique about VR. I mean, that obvious question in the sense that the early computers like the first Apple, it seems to be spreadsheets that got that off the ground. That was a uniquely new thing that couldn’t happen before, and then with the Mac, it was desktop publishing, of course. What is the uniquely thing that’ll happen for RDR? Of course, some of it will be social and gaming. No question, but within work, what is the equivalent?
Peter Wasilko : Oh, sorry for the delay it was on one of the real high shelves of the lesbian Keeton now.
Frode Hegland: Oh, you’re sorry, Peter, you were away. I didn’t realize I was in the library, just finishing up the title, right? Just finishing something brief. So one of the kind of interesting and slightly worrying things is how rapidly the Oculus is being updated, worrying in the sense that, well, the good thing is hand gestures now are available to developers more. The API seems to have open, but also structures for how to interact are being more formally coded, so you have the same interactions across different environments. And of course, that’s good for the user, but it’s bad for us in the sense that it narrows down our opportunity for trying to figure out something new. So the conclusion of the thing that I wrote and I’ll send it later, you can skim it if you want, but it is. If we had all the resources in the world in a sense, should probably try to make an actual lab in the sense of building an environment where we can change the variables frequently. You know what interactions mean and how things appear and all that good stuff anyway? Just an update from this side of the pond.
Brander Zachernuk : Yeah, I mean, if my answer to that is that the difference in virtual reality in having a higher degree of tracking is the expressiveness, the fact that you can you can use aspects of your behavior and performance to a degree that is much more nuanced. We do have keyboards are amazing. That’s one of the things that people realize with text adventures is that not is that the expressiveness of a keyboard was sort of out of out of step with the level of complexity that people can put into a game. And so text adventures were actually a very uncanny valley kind of moment because of the way that we tend to expect to be able to express ourselves through text versus the expressiveness and the nuance that was available as a response to that system. So, you know. So that’s why it was so NACI’s because of the sort of the. The compromises that a person had to make in terms of being able to get an appropriate level of sort of willful suspension of disbelief. Because if you’re writing to somebody you expect writing back and writing is a is a complex form that has lots of different sort of attributes that depend on what you put in yourself. But yeah, as I’ve said before, I think that the the benefit of virtual reality is not being able to go to Mars, not being able to.
Brander Zachernuk : Not being able to be a superhero, but to be able to have what it is that your hands do be represented to be able to have space, represent things and to be able to put things in space that can represent things and pulling it back to that level of mundane illness over the definition, I think, is really instructive and important because because the Mars stuff, that’s fine, but it will cease to be impressive at some point in the future. But but but the space, as in the location stuff wants, is to be true. And so I think putting things in space and making movement mean things are they are the unique value propositions of virtual reality. And as such, you know, technologies come online where people have the ability to do eye tracking or actual face tracking, where people can do voice input, then those become very useful components of it as well. You know, Oculus has announced the intent to be able to do a full body tracking in front of a mirror. I think that’s really, really interesting because it means that while it’s constrained in its context, it means that you can have a much fuller degree of expressiveness reflected through that surface and into a performance.
Brander Zachernuk : But, you know, I think the challenge is, how can we make those things meaningful? How can we make sure that rather than merely sort of providing sort of an extra degree of immersive ness for whatever that means in the simulation, it actually does something that has semantic relevance that is important to somebody in a way that they depend on it. And how how can we make that their jobs? That was the thing with wiseacre is that it provided a double entry, bookkeeping and other other or much more automated forms of bookkeeping that kept people honest, but also what it ultimately did. And I think Kay has talked about this and other folks is that the increase, the level of complexity that people could keep in their heads because the complexity was in the document was was it was in a computer system. And so when we can force complexity and mitigation and management into the system, then that will allow us to increase the level of complexity that we have on our side. So yeah, that’s that’s where I put it, and I’d be curious as to other people’s responses to.
Frode Hegland: The issue of complexity is a really pertinent one I think about that often have reflected on a different ways. One thing, though, I think would be really interesting to get a bit of consensus on is when these things will be used. So Apple apparently has been saying that their initial stuff, they don’t expect you to sit with that all day. It should be used in relatively short bursts, which is a little bit telling. I find that interesting. So with the interactions I’ve been having recently, what I find is sitting down and concentrating on my rectangle. I need a better name. But concentrating on the rectangle is great for normal writing and reading. Probably nothing will ever get better than for basic reading a few sentences, then a rectangle, whether it be or a or a physical. But then when we look into the AR VR space, I don’t think a lot of people will have an entire room where they can interact. That will be very specific work. The average office worker won’t have that. So it seems to me that the whole focus of air to begin with makes sense, because if you imagine we have a shared area around us, you know, innocuous, we have this guardian thing. Imagine that in front of us, we have a public space. So if we take our knowledge thing in the graph or whatever, it might be. And if we have a meeting, that’s the shared area. But the other stuff we have, maybe on the walls are on the table or floating is not shared because it probably wouldn’t be the same layout room, so it may not even fit.
Frode Hegland: So if we take that as one thing that most likely when you go into air, you’ll be at your desk, but you’ll stand up. A setting down was a bit of waste and space, but you all stand up, you’ll do the things, maybe not walk around a bit. We need to decide on how we feel about that. And the issue along with that is, of course, what data will we have, but interaction wise? The more I play with it, how can we get rid of the data or hide it, I think becomes more and more crucial because it won’t be that hard to have the entire Wikipedia thing on music or whatever it might be over in the room. Like they’re an incredible sculpture, but it’s bad enough for the cluttered desk once you start building you this there and that there is going to be really mentally taxing. So what is the logic we will have for exploding something and then pulling it back? And then maybe you take one aspect of it out while you read the rest of it closed. I think these fundamentals we try to. I address a bit of dialogue on, but before I go over to the hands, just any indication of whether you completely agree with me or completely disagree with me, that what we’re basically talking about is stand up VR, not walk around. And the key thing is what’s in front of us because that can be shared, not the room, because that’ll probably be owned by some company.
Peter Wasilko : Well, that’s a new idea to me. Ok, interesting. Brandel.
Frode Hegland: Ok. Yes, Bob, go on. We’ll we’ll I’m sure we’ll get back to that point as well. So, Bob,
Peter Wasilko : Yes, that’s a new it’s a new idea to me. I I’m a taking. I’m taking it that the problem of disorientation between standing up, moving around and and how it feels in your body has been is assumed to have been solved. I’m what I’ve heard. I haven’t been following this, but I what I’ve heard is that it’s still a problem. Is that right?
Brander Zachernuk : The way I would characterize it is virtual motion is still extremely sick. So if if if the frame of reference changes on you without you being a person specifically for emulating that is that is sickening and we’ll continue to be. It is off by default as the way for all of the shooting games, everything like that to do. And I’ve never as much as I’ve tried to sort of tamp down that as a as a nausea response. I have failed, but what I don’t find sickening is walking around in a space in that sort of guardian bound just pointed out. Yeah. Other people may, but I have not actually in the last sort of five years of working in VR.
Frode Hegland: I agree with your Brandel and that’s also what I hear from other people that if you make your own movement, it’s fine. The only thing I mean, of course, VR will be fantastic for room scale, whether we’re at the table and so on. But I’m just thinking about in terms of, let’s pretend it’s a year in the future. Apple has announced their device is going to be some sort of an AR device. Chances are it won’t be used for for room scale. Chances are I really and this is I’m making assertions. If you don’t agree with me, I’d really like to hear, please understand that I’m being just a friend making assertions that will be the whatever thing can be semi within hands reach that people from different parts of the room, so to speak and interact with. But yeah. Mark, you’re itching to go. I can say
Mark Anderson : I’m now a couple of things. Is one just picking up on? The last thing was that it sounds to me that this this issue of frame of reference in the movie is a bit like sort of overcoming seasickness in the sense of your eyes are telling you one thing and your ears are telling you another. Most people find that disconcerting. Some sort of learn to overcome it. Mariners and aviators certainly do, but that’s through often through a lot of emotion. And in fact, you know, like an an interesting thing here is because one of the ways you get around it in some like a sea is you just go and stand somewhere where you can see the motion. But of course, you can’t do that in VR because it’s not actually natural. And I’ve now completely forgotten what it was I was. I’d written it down.
Brander Zachernuk : No, that’s a good point, mark. And it’s starting to jump in. But it’s it’s an important sort of component of a lot of the critiques of virtual reality in general. People talk about gorilla arm as though it’s some kind of immutable, that terrible thing. So yes, sea sickness and even people do crazy things to their eyes. Apache helicopter pilots learn how to disconnect the focal distance so that they can look in two different places. That’s one of the reasons why children are supposed to not spend extended time in VR because we want to have the convergence accommodation coupling the fact that our eyes focus at a certain distance when we when they converge at a certain distance. And the thinking is that it’s possible that they may lose the ability to have that hard coupling to the same extent. Certainly, it’s something that I am able to break to some extent that will, but it hasn’t harmed my ability to make focus. But but also with with the gorilla arm that people say people will always be sick of doing things up there. But the fact is that there are people in the world who have jobs that do that. That’s why Bill Buxton calls it Pentyrch shoulders instead, because painters do it and they survive. It’s sore, but then they get good at it. So the basic plasticity that’s and that’s mechanical plasticity rather than my favorite neuroplasticity. But the fact is that we’re plastic enough that if there’s a value proposition to be had in any kind of context, no matter how unnatural, no matter how painful, frankly, will it up to it and we’ll use it. So that’s yeah, I think a really good point about seasickness.
Mark Anderson : Just to round out very quickly on that. I think you’re right. I mean, certainly one of the things I noticed when I use pass-through, it reminded me very, very much in a former life when I used to use passive night vision goggles for work. You know, we need them for what we’re doing. But yeah, again, you lose, you lose such sense of distance and it’s very floaty. The thing, the thing that I’ve forgotten, which is was going to mention because it’s in context to this, is that whether there’s an interesting sort of thing I thought I might find in sort of the Oculus Store, which is basically something they’re basically hand training exercises because, you know, you used to do those things and used to make, you know, shallow shadows on the wall as children. Actually, I was quite surprised when I was using my hands against the controllers in the Oculus that actually I almost had better definition with the controllers than I did with certainly one of my hands. There wasn’t quite the finesse that I’d have. Picking something up with my fingers just didn’t seem to be there in the virtual space. I presume that lack of force tailback is possibly what it is. I don’t know. But anyway, just past the observation. But you know, something that’s sort of I’ve seen it. I’ve seen the physics lab and things, but that seems to be more about. Exploring the experience, then teaching you to do things with your hands in, in other words, training you to use them with purpose in that space. So there’s a there’s a there’s an app for someone to make.
Frode Hegland: It are.
Peter Wasilko : Ok, I was wondering, Brandel, do you know whether anyone’s tried to see how well actual sailors do in VR environments and also whether anyone has tried taking Dramamine tablets or seasickness meds
Frode Hegland: To see if that would affect having your point of view moved on you?
Brander Zachernuk : I haven’t I will find. I’ll see if anybody around me knows, but that’s the sort of thing that I would expect to be a very interesting subject of investigation for folks like Jeremy Bailenson, not Stanford Virtual Interactive Human Interaction Lab. So that would be one place I’d look for it, but I don’t know myself. And obviously, all branches are military. I think I think that they’ve done a phenomenal job of investigating various forms of interaction over the years. And so it would be my expectation that there may be some leads in there, too. But no fascinating, but I don’t know.
Frode Hegland: So kind of on that point that other points, I feel I’m kind of in the face of being actually both excited and quite depressed dealing with this because the opportunity is immense if we can do something good. But it’s also depressing, you know, like coming from my own background, who who the hell am I, right? What credibility do I have? What credibility do we have as a group? You know, obviously there is real credibility here. I’m not, you know, in any way talking any of us down, but it’s OK.
Brander Zachernuk : I just I’ll watch it, like I say.
Frode Hegland: But the but the point of that is. If we’re going to we need basically an Archimedes lever type thing. It wasn’t right, wasn’t it? The find a place to stand. And I’m very excited by discussions of extreme use of VR. That’s something like in Gerrans book I can read about and so on. I’d love to go and do all those art and military and hardcore things. However, I think that. If we are going to make a real difference, we have to go to what’s mundane. That’s what Brandel said. I think lost our man before. And sometimes that worries me, but then I have to look at my own situation, I made software author. And it’s just not selling well. I know it’s because I’m not doing enough marketing, so I’m not trying to talk myself completely down. That’s not what the point is, but the point is. If we do build stuff that is really for the advanced cyber, not, you know, what is the market for that and I don’t necessarily mean sales, I also mean cognitive markets. And that’s why I’m talking about where will this stuff be used? And that’s why I introduced it today with I really do expect when someone spends $2000 or whatever on the first Apple VR, because that’s our mental model that we’re designing for that, whether we will or not. When will they use it? Some people use it for engineering and all kinds of specialist uses fine. There will be software for that. But for the average knowledge worker office user, an academic, when will they use it? I think we have to really figure that one out. So it has to be. And I really hate this because, you know of my dog background, it has to be about the casual use a little bit, but with a really good learning curve, right? Yeah, I saw a market where frozen with a big smile, so it wasn’t the worst for these anyway. So, you know, if we can just for a little bit, just push the discussion towards. The devices come out, we have a friend who works within some kind of knowledge stuff. They call us up on the phone and says, Hey, you’re a nerd. Should I buy it? And then we say, yeah, are you kidding? And then we’ll say all the specs, of course, but then we’ll say and the thing you can do with it is dot dot dot. I’d really like to hear about those that little ellipses. Anybody have any thoughts? Or Bob and Peter, would you like to go first before we address that?
Bob Horn: Uh, all right. I wanted to hearken back to one of your earlier comments road because I I happen to have the chance to be in the very first virtual reality lab that was around in a university at the University of Washington, which was run by a former military commander who had run into it in cockpits. Cockpit design and we had a very early conference. This is in the early 1990s. We had a conference and the paper that I wrote, you’ll be interested to know it was. As soon as virtual reality gets really interesting, it will be. It will have enough complexity that we’re going to have to have maps to get around in it. And and so I went to I did not go to work on virtual reality. I went to work on, as you know, mapping of various visual kinds. I think that’s still the case. And it was it was fascinating to hear you, you know, make that as part of your introductory remarks here. I think I think that. Uh, where that one, as I’ve as I’ve written in volume one of future of text, the the the ability to to be able to map out very, very complex spaces is still one of the huge challenges that we have in the world and it will be helpful in virtual reality whenever we solve that problem.
Frode Hegland: Yeah, thanks, Bob, I’m just writing a note on that. Peter.
Peter Wasilko : Well, when I was at Syracuse in the early 90s, we had the Advanced Graphics Research Laboratory and VR lab and the bottom of Hero, a geology laboratory, and I was able to get down and make some use of that. And one of the first little widgets that I bet we were using SGI Iris computers, and I wrote sort of like a little almost like a 3D map widget. One represented a vector showing which way you were looking within the ground 3D space from your position. The next one showed where you physically were within the bounds of a 3D volume, so one fly point was where you are in the volume. Another fly point was a vector indicating which way you were pointed in the volume and. Then I was looking at maybe allowing you to navigate by dragging that fly point around as opposed to using the other controllers. Also, it occurs to me that we might want to bring the command line into VR because a lot of things are much easier to describe texturally than to deal with through direct physical or virtual physical interaction. My other thought as far as a big killer use case, would be managing a virtual library. I have so many digital assets in my Mac that it’s utterly mind boggling. And at the moment, I’m just dependent upon throwing everything into Devon. Think to index, sit and search it. But it would be really nice if I had a uniform spatial artifact that I could put in a virtual VR library so I could start to do the Memory Palace kind of organization so I could actually have the sense of if I’m looking for this kind of a digital asset. Here’s where in this space I would have left it so that I can narrow the field. For one, I was trying to find that book even happened to my real physical library. There were a couple of alternate locations that it could have been in, and I checked the wrong to first until I found the correct section of the library that I shelved it in. Now, in the VR space, that wouldn’t be a problem because I could have one copy of a book organized in the eye section. I could have another copy of Shanks book dropped in the business section. So now there’s more than one representation of it, and each one is in a different physical, virtual physical space of that appropriate area of organization. So I think that could actually be a sweet spot. So instead of just having, you know, half of the world sitting buried somewhere in your hard drive and trying to find it, it would be as if those were actual books again. And you could use all of your book organization skills from your real world physical library and apply them in a virtual space. That’s that’s a really good idea. And I’m wondering if anybody has tried it out in a second life, which is sort of a simulation of virtual reality.
Frode Hegland: Oh, second life is just so. Awful. Well, are they there were two kind of comments on their on on the first thing with with maps. Yes, I think there will be some mapping. Of course, it’ll be useful for actual things, but the digital library, basically the finder, I think that will be absolute key because every scenario I write for you Brandel, because thank you, you’re a good role model for me to write for. It ends down where I have a shape of stuff. Now where does it connect to other stuff? Right. So basically, we’re talking about the finder. We’re talking about the desktop. We’re talking about the library. We’re talking about notes. Call it whatever you will, but we’re talking about the entire universe of that user’s knowledge. So how do we cluster that and how can we share it? And how do we manipulate it or we choose what to view and what to hide it, right? Yeah, I completely agree that that’s the way to go. But even within that, there are so many fundamental issues of styles of visualizations and interactions and so on. So I think that in the community, we need to make a few decisions to begin with. And the number one is what I’ve been kind of harping on about a lot in this conversation. I think we should talk about something that is above your desk. It can fill the room at some point. Sure, no problem. But we can imagine the Apple TV commercial, you know where they have, you know, I put on my glasses and I have magical things here and there, and then I put them away, go somewhere else. And maybe it’s different in that other location because I have chosen to have different layouts at home and in my office and so on. But I think it needs to be that level of casualness to begin with because even having a couple of shapes in front of you, the complexity of how we deal with that is just ridiculously immense. Brandel. I’m sure you have a billion better things to say.
Brander Zachernuk : I know not, not better, just more, more, more talking. But have you have you ever come across Maxime cordials work within sort of University of Monash?
Peter Wasilko : Say, say the name again, I’m next.
Brander Zachernuk : Could I just put his his website, he’s he’s at Monash, and he’s he done things like Maxis, the immersive kind of representation of of being able to manipulate data series, time series and other fairly complicated data sets in virtual reality. Really, really interesting. The point that I was thinking about when you mentioned mapping is that, well, depending on how reductive you get to it, I think that mapping is basically the only the only problem to solve in VR because it’s the only problem. And it reminds me of when I was talking to my daughter at a playground recently and some kids who are moving some colored cones around in various sort of elaborate sequences and coding. And she asked why? Because she knows what I do is coding. But I was saying that they were making things mean things. And I think and while that can be an obtuse level of reductionism, I think it’s still useful to to point out that making things mean things is is both mapping and coding. Coding is that is the productive component of it. And and mapping at or map using is the is the consumptive component of it, but that which sort of both broadens it to near meaninglessness, but also points out what what sort of moving parts you have as a consequence, what sort of capabilities you may be able to kind of look at. That’s one of the things I really loved about. There was an organization in the UK called Shilts and Webb Berg, and they played a lot with things like turn off faces. The idea that if you have multiple multivariate sort of data that you represent as something approximating a human face, then we have an incredible capacity to parse all of those things because of the the the fusiform face region of the brain being such an inordinately large part of our our cognitive capacities. And so mapping, yes, is absolutely important. But but it’s also worth stepping back to think about what it is that a map is what kind of capabilities it confers and then matching them against the sort of the hardware capabilities of the moment, the expressive and the and the display capabilities that we have in front of us. And so, yeah, I absolutely agree. And I think that it allows it sort of it makes us it forces us to be to be holistic about what it is that the totality of it is on the subject of books and placing them in spaces. That that is why I have gone so deep on trying to render books in ways that can kind of represent multivariate dimensional aspects of those books. Because because I think that another aspect of this is that because we live in reality, most of the time, most of us, we are accustomed to the nuance of the sort of the actual appearance detail book such that it might actually be worthwhile for us to really layer that dimensional kind of information about what a book is into that book. Such that that we we believe it, obviously, but also so that we can read aspects of what that book is into it in ways that don’t require a number of bar charts floating next to it, saying what age quality? All of that kind of stuff? Page count? No, the page is the thing. The quality is whether it looks like it’s beaten up. So, yeah, all of those things. But yeah, I’m excited about the ways in which we can attack them as a consequence of the media.
Peter Wasilko : I’ll ask you again, what about the last name of the person that whose first name is Maxine?
Brander Zachernuk : Yes, a cordial. I put a link to his his personal page in the chat.
Peter Wasilko : Personal page.
Mark Anderson : Mark said it was just just a very quick observation, really, and just thinking this thing we were talking about. Those reference to this idea, mind palaces and being able to sort things out. So there’s an interesting part of the one one sort of aspect of the this whole mapping thing is the the passage from personal map to public map. So I may use this visual space in a very, in a sense, not necessarily intentionally, but in a very personal way of this thing in this place has a very particular meaning. I’m very much an untidy desk person. I know where things are because they’ve been. That’s just where they live. And so I’m spatial and visual in that sense. You know, definitely not the not the sort of person with the empty, a flat top desk. So, you know, people will have their own storage mechanisms now, of course, that that won’t that that will map to the individual. But in order to interact with somebody else. So I have to, then that’s the passage out from me is going to there’s no point me taking my my sort of visualization of it as such. Whatever odd shape and particular spatial position will mean nothing to another person. I’m so there’s an interesting sort of mapping challenge there in that, you know, how we wrap it and unwrap it. So we we pass the relevant part to somebody else who will then probably want to wrap it up themselves and their own representational manner that makes sense to them.
Bob Horn: Well, my experience is that you need to be able to make the the maps with on actual problems at this stage where we are. You can do an awful lot of, you know, very, very abstract envisioning of various kinds, but you need to be able to work with a team of people on an actual problem or a set of problems to make real progress on this kind of mapping.
Frode Hegland: I guess it depends a little bit on what kind of mapping. And that’s obviously really, really important because if we’re talking about actual books that are published, at least we have the size and the cover just to take a trivial example. But once we get into more kind of cognitive mapping, you know, defining what the different dimensions are and so on will be a very interesting common common issue. Yeah. Sorry, Peter,
Peter Wasilko : I find that the secondary characteristics of the books are a real important finding aid to me because I know whether a book is a thin book or a thick book. So even if I’m too far away in my library to be able to actually resolve the writing on the spines, I can go by the general shape and color to zero in on where I need to climb up on the stepladder to get close enough to actually read the title to find the one I’m looking for. Another thought is that we might want to have something like the original Memex arrangement in our VR workspace, so imagine everything oft left of center was one view and everything off to the right of center was a second view and dead center were some VR controls to allow us to build links between the items so that I could navigate independently to one section of my memory palace in left view a completely different section of the memory palace. In the right view, grab two items and then create a relation between them. I wonder if there is a way of combining, I like the idea of this. And I also experienced that in my library digitally. There are now at least there’s at least one place and I understand there are others which I’m not familiar with at the Internet Archive, where there are a million books that have been digitized. Now there’s you know, how can we. Experiment with that kind of a space, it would seem to me that. It would be possible, you know, that the Internet Archive, people who I know some of would be interested in that and it might be easily, well, not easily, but might be fundable as a as a realistic project to to build some kind of mapping of knowledge with that as the as the starting point.
Frode Hegland: I think I think we need to address a little bit more and this meetings, which which are always inspirational and very, very pleasant. It’s very easy to go into that problem or this problem. We need other than, you know, we’re going to build a library or a word processor or whatever. I think we need a little bit of discussion around what problems we’re trying to solve. So for sure, one of them is how to organize your stuff. Absolutely aspect of that is, is this this? Yeah.
Mark Anderson : Mark, we’re certainly going round in circles in a sense that I think what was actually right, we do actually need to put some data into it. It’s not the data scary or something, and it doesn’t mean we can’t do other things, but we won’t get started if we keep talking about generalities.
Frode Hegland: So there are a number of things about generalities for a second mark. It’s quite the opposite.
Mark Anderson : We have because we’ve just before I spoke, we just flipped from the sense of, so let’s, you know, sort of here’s some data. We can do something with the saying yes, but we don’t want to be too specific. And I’m just saying that it’s not being specific to say, Look, here is something we can actually tractable that we can go and use. Otherwise, if we don’t take something that’s available or it don’t take a real sort of problem of data set now, then everything becomes a base, everything becomes abstract and we can dream as much as we like. We won’t get anywhere because we never test our ideas. So it’s not that by picking this bit of data or that bit of data, we’re in some way cutting ourselves off. But essentially we’re actually making specific progress because out of that, we’ll have other ideas which will allow us to branch off. But I think as long as we keep stepping away, so we mustn’t look at this because it’s too specialized, then I don’t think we’re going to make much progress.
Frode Hegland: I’m not saying it’s too specialized. What I am saying is that the story about the looking for your keys under the streetlight, because that’s where it’s easier to look. Just because we have the data, it doesn’t mean it’s helping solve the right kind of problem, I really do think.
Mark Anderson : So just to understand, so you’re saying, for instance, so all these books that we might use, that’s that’s looking under the light, is it
Frode Hegland: Because we have access to that data? Yes. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do it. Not at all. But what I’m saying
Mark Anderson : Is you want to use data that we haven’t got. Is that what you’re saying?
Peter Wasilko : I think we should focus on. Mark’s data said he spent so much time cleaning it up. It’s probably the most effective device to be using to explore the problem. Well, I think I left them for me. I haven’t been a part of this discussion for, well, several months. So I didn’t even know we were going to be talking about virtual reality. And one of the things that I’ve found is that we that the best way to make progress of one kind or another is to be able to, well, articulate what the problem is that we’re working on. And and I see that that we’re we’re kind of running around that, but to, well, articulate means to write down and propose in text probably or or print text and diagram or or we will continue to move to do different peoples issues. By the way, I ran into there’s a. The which something I can send to you when I’m on my downstairs computer and you can circulate the people if you want to. There is the people who are the chemists and biologists who are working on the future of life problem have a gaps Typekit web page. And they’ve they’ve invited people to write, write down what are the gaps? And they’ve got a list of they’ve got a classification of these gaps of about 20 of them with contributions. I haven’t joined the organization, so I can’t, you know, I have to join it in order to read the gap, what people actually say in the gaps. But they’ve got a list of the gaps right there, which I can send you, which may be a model for what for what we might try to do with this project.
Frode Hegland: Yeah, sure. Uh, Brendan, we haven’t heard much from you today. Right, anything else?
Brander Zachernuk : I’m personally very interested in trying to pursue. I posted those to the to the Twitter post about my Gutenberg project. If you haven’t seen it, Bob, I haven’t built something that opens up, opens up a Gutenberg text and turns those into digital books with appropriate cover and content so that you can actually flip through them and their length is proportionate to the to the actual page count so that you actually there is a page per page and you flip them. It’s a pretty fun. Unfortunately, Gutenberg doesn’t directly have an API so that you have to download those books in order to be able to do that. But but one could sort of create some kind of interstitial between that and the entire corpus of Gutenberg if one is willing to set up a server for it. That would mean that you could create something that has some representation of all of the books and some ability to be able to kind of process a way of reordering those things. A vision of mine I had in the very early 2000s, 2003, 2004 was to to have that library but actually have it be able to move so that the books actually changed their position based on the relative weighting similar to something that I saw, possibly at the at the symposium.
Brander Zachernuk : So there was, I think, a demonstration of some of a dynamic waiting, two dimensional structuring thing that I thought was really, really interesting. One of the one of the greatest benefits I find for virtual reality is that you have simply more space and a more nuanced vantage point from which to be able to kind of view that space. And so I think that those those visualizations that are interesting but become quickly visually complex are some of the lowest hanging fruit to explore with them, three dimensional space that we actually have such a such a native way of being able to manipulate. I mean, the downside is that it’s only one more dimension. And so if you’re talking about something that’s many, many more high dimensions than that, then you only get one. You can get the I get a couple if you start to use color and things like that. But by that, it’s not a free lunch to all complexity, but merely an additional dimension. But I think it’s a good start.
Bob Horn: Thank you. Very interesting. I didn’t know about it.
Mark Anderson : So something that I’m reminded, I think that is is an interesting that came out from the visualizations we did last year. Well, sorry that we actually Adam did for us. But but one of the things that came out almost accidentally in this was this just the idea of reducing the sort of visibility or mess of things. So it’s like, I suppose in games you have this sort of fog of war sort of effect. You know, this is, you know, this is the name bit. Be on there here, be dragons. And they’re there because it’s sort of, you know, showing you what you’ve explored. But in another way, it’s reducing the complexity of the picture you look at. You know, if we could see everything in the in the Gutenberg Library sort of thing, it would be overwhelming if we could, in a sense, if it was portrayed to us. So we literally could see every wretched thing. So and it’s the same one we’ve been sort of discussing. Well, if I could take part of something big like Wikipedia, I think what’s really interesting is is part of the thing is just being able to foreground, you know, a book or part or part of a book, in fact, or part of several books that have a connection without having to be encumbered by the rest of that thing. So they’re not disconnected, they’re not lost. The disconnection, if there is one, is simply achieved by, in a sense, putting them back into that background.
Mark Anderson : So they’re not overloading, they’re not overloading, essentially. And we can concentrate on the the bit at hand because it seems to be one of one of the things that comes across that we’re trying to do in this sort of virtual space, regardless of the number of dimensions is being able, I think, to scratch each of our strong associative connections that we make so easily in here being able to externalize. Yeah, because I want, you know, I want that bit of that one and I want that bit of that bit. And that’s sort of, in a sense, what we do in here. We pull those together and we turn them over. And so we’re we are arguably approaching a point where we sort of theoretically should be able to do that. We obviously have built the all the affordances for it yet. So this this idea of. You know, I think I see it, so it keeps coming forward to me, this idea of having it’s not a firm bounded space, it is almost like something receding into the fog. It’s sort of there, you’re aware of it, and you can push out into it if necessary, or you can pull on some connection to pull in more, depending on the style of work. But it’s a method that allows you to keep the thing you are interested in. For Foregrounded for you. I don’t know. But there may be some, you know.
Bob Horn: Well, what you say sort of reminds me of some of a little episode a few months ago, some students, some. Post postdoc and pre doc students at Stanford had decided that they were going to launch a major understanding of change, and they were calling it the meta change project and I said, Oh, well, you know, what are you reading? And they said, Oh, well, we’re making an annotated bibliography. And I said, Well, you know, could you send it to me and say, Well, you know, it’s not complete? I said, Well, I’m not going to send it to anybody or anything like that, but I just I’m interested in changeand. And so we just sent it to me. So. So they sent it to me and it was terrible. The writing was terrible, and I realized that that there were two things that they that somehow that that I liked, at least that they hadn’t run into. One was structured abstracts which are used in the medical field and all the major medical journals for the last, I don’t know, 10 or 15, 20 years, which are much easier to read. And you can you can scan and skip because they’re segmented and have have various headline, you know, boldface or or headlines of different kinds. By the way, I intend to write for Volume three, something about structured abstracts because I think it’s if all the journal editors in the world required them as the medical people do, we would.
Bob Horn: We would save about. My estimate is somewhere in the order of five to 10 percent of all the scientists time in the world. The other thing that that struck me when I was dealing with these young chaps was that. Uh, that that that I that some of the things that they had abstracted, I had the books on myself. I went over to the books, I looked at the books and I saw that the table of contents. In some of the books when the was much more accessible and usable in the sense of could I get to what I wanted faster or decide whether I wanted it or not? And but then of course, some of the tables of contents were of the kind that I guess book editors wants you to to to make a very interesting and flashy and enticing and so forth, but not very informative. So I, you know, there’s another opportunity, a near-term opportunity of creating tables of contents for the for the million books on Gutenberg and on the Internet Archive, simply to be for us to be able to scan and skip to what we need and to and probably then to with a little bit. Not not a whole lot of artificial intelligence put together very interesting ontologies and other things. Oh, that’s. So anyway, I’m going to I’m going to at least write about structured abstracts for volume three of the future of text.
Mark Anderson : I think it’s very interesting what you’re saying about the table of contents, because I’ve been reading a lot of books in the last six months about indexing and things like that. I think that really comes across as how how it is a complete antithesis of the person’s view of the world where everything is reducible to, you know, absolutely fixed elements. And indeed, I’m just reading have is that a fish in your ear about translation? And it just shows how mutable sort of textual symbols can be in a way that we choose to ignore because normally our local environment is, you know, what we don’t see is we we don’t see that change or that that confusion in our local environment. So we applied it. But there’s a really interesting point. I think about this. The sense of tables of contents, which in another way is a bit like indexing, not in the formal sense, but in the way that a human created index has a sense that something that’s just done a, you know, a find on a word doesn’t help it. You can do a find on a term and find you everything that’s there, but it doesn’t have the context.
Mark Anderson : It doesn’t. And if your word happens to have multiple meanings and you absolutely stuff and it’s not, you know, most, it’s not there’s not cleverness in all that, but it’s not. It’s not what we as a human normally need because we actually needed the more nuanced return. So an interesting point comes in that in that well, in our writing, we don’t tend to write for this sort of access. So maybe one of the sort of, you know, sea level sort of think about things here is we need to sort of feed that into the loop. So part of what we’re doing with text is as well as, you know, as well as general writing what we need in order to help parcel of computerized selves. We need better extraction of that sort of table of contents indexing element to it because, as Bob rightly says, so use some things you can immediately see. You can look at a book. All right, this is where I need to go, as opposed to saying there are ten chapters and they look equally boring.
Peter Wasilko : And if they’re long chapters, then they need to. Then the table of contents needs to have some heads in them of some kind.
Mark Anderson : We need something akin to in the old book where it used to say at the top of the page in which I’ll visit our hero encounters an obstacle and overcomes it. You said these wonderful running heads of people that at it’s not beyond the wit of man that they’re not there because I mean, there it’s there. It was a gloss and it was it was a performative thing. But in the same way, there’s nothing to say that because basically it’s metadata.
Peter Wasilko : Yeah. Yeah, well, you know, the future of text is to use that old technology. Hmm. That old methodology. But. And my impression my impression is when I looked a few years ago that summarisation automatic summarization of text has moved along quite well, and it would seem to me that with another refinement, that one could build these tables of contents. Um. Uh, out of out of that kind of summarization, the SUMMARISATION tended to produce paragraphs, which of course, are hard to scan. What we want is is a list of sentences, I believe, or at least long clauses, maybe occasional phrase, but certainly not just a word. For the table, for an ideal table of contents, for a million books.
Mark Anderson : Yeah, because it’s interesting most of our search systems are built to take anything you put in, no matter what syntax you try and put into it, to tear it apart into individual words and then go and find so many matches to those lists of words as which is normally exactly what you didn’t want to happen because you’re trying, trying to cut down the mass that’s returned to you by giving it more context and you’ll your digital friends doing its level best to give you far more context than you asked for. Now, with good intent, but not to a great end
Peter Wasilko : Spread the word we got, we got got some young. Some young folks are going to make a lot of money doing that. Hmm. If they if they did a startup. And it would to me that,
Brander Zachernuk : Yeah, it occurs to me that that a table of contents and that the the main purpose of a book are just can be seen as as two levels of detail of that text. And in computer graphics, we talk about level of detail as this sort of decomposition of polygon forms. But instead of having two specific Stipe’s stages, we normally have three or four or five, depending on the level of fidelity required based on the pure distance. Something that I think is really interesting is given, given that we have these two enunciation of the level of detail of a book at the word level and then at the well, although, you know, conceivably you could think of the like the annotated bibliography of something and its footnotes as being an additional level of detail then, but with a table of contents and the document itself, that’s at least two plus the annotations. It’s three being able to kind of interpolate and extrapolate across those to be able to come up with more continuous levels of detail such that you have the ability to kind of see them at whatever range of granularity you like. I think that would be really appealing thing to do because I think that, yeah, the table of contents are very unsung heroes, and perhaps some of that is what most people haven’t. Read Adler how to read a book and and understand the necessity of actually reading the TSC to see what it is that you expect to be getting out of chapter. But yeah, I think that being able to one challenge with just having table of contents is that you don’t have it’s not ready to hand as a as a thing that can stand in for the book.
Brander Zachernuk : Most of the time, people don’t see it as being quite as important as it really is, or at least could be. And so, yeah, I like the idea of sort of ratifying the the the actual representation of that doc in a way that sort of brings it back to the fore and means that it’s a handle to actually pull the book by, so to speak, rather than rather than just a thing that happens to exist at the beginning. At some level, you know, might actually be pretty good to have a book, have the table of Contents B fold up map that you get before it instead. Something that I did recently because when I bought techniques and civilization by Lewis Mumford, it was too big. It was too too wide to hold comfortably. So I cut it in half because it was it was printed for me. It turned out I thought that was entertaining, that I ordered it, and then it was printed the day later. But yeah, that idea that what what a book is and what you get to do with it is kind of up to you. I’d be quite fun to actually, you know, for a really long book to to cut it into chapters so that you have those as as actual kind of reference that you can use to to kind of draw significance to it. You can pass those around, obviously, if you ever got to see people again. But you’d also be able to kind of have individual meaning be attributed to those specific volumes. And so, yeah, I think I’ll play with that.
Peter Wasilko : I just pulled out my copy of techniques and civilization. Uh, and I’m looking at the table of contents and the table of contents are phrases they are not, they are not sentences and they are not generally clauses. Sometimes they are just lists like machines, utility and the machine, the monastery and the clock. Sometimes they are just, um, not understandable. They rate Metallica is one of them. I could use a I could use a translation of that. The game hunt and the manhunt and so forth. I won’t read all the rest of them, but you know, it would be interesting to have a really good table of contents of that book. Maybe you’ll make us make one for us and we can we can print it out and put it in our put our put it in our copies, and maybe we’ll learn something from that.
Mark Anderson : What’s interesting there is probably if those THC headings actually had a subtitle to them. So probably, yeah, if you had an extra sentence it explain what the sort of end of the short term you mentioned one that yes, I didn’t mean anything to me, but I’m sure that in a sense, once you read the subtitles. Okay, I get the heading and also the shorter heading, probably that’s a bit your stick away in your in your head. So and what that reflects to me is that I sort of thinking back on, you know, having done a thesis recently in the longest thing I’ve certainly written was actually how little discussion, even if you ask people about it, there was about the writing. So it was broadly seen as a rather pedestrian thing where you wrote the first, you know? Well, I wrote the first chapter and I kept thinking, Well, how do you know what the first chapter is if you don’t know what the rest of the wretched narrative is? And I don’t mean, you know in a sense that you can’t write, write it and saw things right. I’ve done that. You know, I’ve written the whole of the introduction. If you don’t really know quite what you may know the overall story arc, but you certainly don’t know the whole story setting out because the whole thing is it’s a voyage of discovery, both for yourself and for your reader.
Mark Anderson : And so and that just chimes back neatly with this thing that I think that. Yeah, I could have written a much better table of contents if I sort of internalized this sort of thought at the time. So the table of contents instead of being it’s often reluctantly so overly descriptive in an unusual way. Okay, you start with an introduction, but what do you think? Yes. Ok. It’s the first chapter, but you know, some of these things really don’t tell you anything. So, or you know, in in a book, then actually not perhaps certain, because in a thesis, okay, you have a literature review. But even then, often literature, literature reviews that I’ve come across don’t really don’t actually explain what they’re doing. They just give you a list of things a person is read, which if it’s very, very tightly compressed, field is sort of useful or it just tells you you haven’t, they haven’t read very much. But you know, the joyful ones are where there’s there’s contextualization, and the things of most interest are set amongst and contextualized to some of the unbounded by the other reading things. So it’s that sort of structuring and I suppose what I reflecting on here is it’s something we we sort of don’t particularly teach in general, as you know or not taught, we grow up.
Mark Anderson : And if anything becomes more needed now, because if we’re going to step so easily in and out of a much more interactive textual environment, you know, before you decide to go and buy a book, you know, and the interactive part was turning the pages or if it really annoyed you enough like Brandel, you cut it in half, you know, just read a bit at a time. But that was sort of the limit. So the things we’ve been talking about now offer a much richer interaction. That’s partly now limited because even if even if we took all our books of today, so dump them in some magical digital hopper and they arrived as digital artifacts, fully digital artifacts on the wrong side. I think what Bristol was reflecting on is that that hasn’t got us necessarily much further forward because there are lots of them unless they are truly sort of narrative works of fiction kind of thing, which is a whole different ballgame. But if they are in some way factual or explanatory that they are missing a layer, they’re missing a needed layer to make the most of them. If we’re to use other than brute force keyword search. You.
Peter Wasilko : And part of that is that that for, let’s say, all of science or non-fiction thinking, if you want to put it that way, we haven’t formulated that as a problem, as a serious problem, as a really major, relevant, serious, significant. I could go on with a lot of more adjectives, but folks, this is a really serious problem. And are we going to work on serious problems in this group or not?
Brander Zachernuk : I’m thinking about the tables of contents that I’ve had to grapple with in the past. It occurred to me that there are a lot of bad ones out there these days as well, and that part of it is that perhaps people haven’t really sort of deployed it intentionally. Like you were saying about a bad bibliography just being a list of things I’ve read because I’ve I’ve been told that it’s necessary. And it reminded me of this talk I just linked to a chat by Walter Ong is the only one I thought from actually him. I wanted to see if he’d spoken. There were any recorded during a lecture tour about morality and literacy. But this one is about what’s it called. Anyway, it’s before he wrote that. But some, some some of the thoughts are buzzing around. You can tell he starts by talking about apparently in university, people sometimes have assigned an essay about what you did over the summer, and he thinks it’s a terrible idea. And or maybe it’s a high school. And I mean, it is a terrible. And he says it’s a terrible idea because nobody’s being given any sort of expectation of what, what it’s for, who it’s for and why they would be interested. And I think that’s a very interesting sort of component, both to a table of contents and a bibliography.
Brander Zachernuk : Nobody’s giving you a goal of what what a successful table of contents is supposed to do. Then you’ll either just defer to whatever formalism you expect or you’ll you’ll make up your own. And maybe that might be interesting, but there’s a good chance that if you’re already overworked, you’ll do the minimum necessary in order to make it happen. So. So. So deploying a an intentional table of contents is a really important component of making these things valuable and yielding up some kind of way of making sure that that artifact remains persistent and present, I think would be a really useful thing to do. Like I said, I actually think if you were to print out the table of contents and have it as a as a fold up map next to the book, then that would probably change your reading of that book. And that’s something that is pretty onerous for paper people to do for you, but it’s definitely something that we can we can explore in virtual reality and potentially sell it to Simon and Schuster if they realize that it’s a valuable thing. But yeah, I useful starting from
Peter Wasilko : And we might also have a. My my view of human beings is that we will continue to have terrible tables of contents because everybody will want the freedom to do whatever they want to do and or the marketing people will want to do frizzy kinds of things like that. So that’s I’m still trying to help formulate the problem. And so the problem is that the problem slash opportunity is that maybe building on the summarization type software one can could create roughly better tables of contents, not perfect ones. I’m not after, I’m never after perfect things because I don’t think you can even measure anything perfectly. So get over it and and but that we could do something really useful and important and maybe even vital, maybe even vital for humanity. Hmm. By working on formulating this problem even better and and then working on it.
Mark Anderson : But in a sense, that’s another happy, happy artifice we now have is that the work that went into visual matter last year, although very fledgling again we have we have a vessel into which to put this this richer metadata. And, you know, I’ve been really interesting to to watch how, you know, its author software has emerged as well, you know? And so thinking about this, so making making headings intentional rather than sort of like, Oh, I’ve written another page, I better have a heading sort of thing because I think it speaks to the same thing. If if you’re heading is sort of actually not used as punctuation, but rather as an inflection point or a focus point in in in the narrative. And that’s and that and that is flowing into the accessible metadata you’re making that gets very powerful. And and indeed, that can be know, and that can be further glossed as necessary because you inherently have the you have the structure on which to hang all this. I mean, it also links and again, I’m finding that also actually, it’s nice to think the synergies there with the discussion and again, the stuff that’s sort of come up in the discussion of author, which is, you know, concept concepts and glossaries and things. So these are sort of in a in especially in a digital environment. These are direct, traceable. So, you know, whether they’re travelling in the book or or their findable easily from the book again, you, you, you have that sense making sort of is it your hand? And I know way back, you know, because it was Chris Gutteridge was talking about, in a sense, having access to a glossary that might be something of a Russian doll because depending on your level of expertise, you might need to keep unpacking.
Mark Anderson : You know, according to your need to understand, to understand the problem, I mean, it’s a really neat conceptual thought. I think delivering on that volume would be a massive task, but I think there’s a reason not to start because I think what it says to me is is to start to think about a change in the way that we, I suppose, in essence, in the way we write. No. Yeah. A thought process in the way that we communicate, so we’re not we’re not writing for a book that 75 years long. And you know that we can only have we can only afford an index that has this many items, which all these sort of constraints that really actually still bind our a lot of our writing. Now, I don’t know. Be interesting to see a fly on the wall at some academic press or something as to, you know, there will be all sorts of constraints like that, even if it’s going to be an electronic book. Because if I’ve learned anything from my very little sort of dealing with the publishing world, it doesn’t move particularly fast. So it’s not at the forefront, and that’s not to speak ill of people, it’s just that when you’re used to doing something a certain way and it works well, why tinker with it, especially if you, especially if you don’t know better there is to replace it? But I think what’s coming out from the discussion today is some really interesting things that, if embraced, could actually improve that.
Peter Wasilko : Well, I did that 50 years ago with information mapping. And which is also the a suburb of subcomponent of what we call structured writing. Found it founded a company built, built it into an international consulting company. Trained four hundred thousand technical writers in how to do structured writing, which in the main element of which is what you might call labeled paragraphs. And although there was there was a much more sophisticated taxonomy of sentences. Still exists, I think I sold the company, I don’t know, 30 years ago or something like that went on to to looking into visualization. But you know that I didn’t go in, I didn’t. I went I went for technical writing and business writing because people would recognize that it would be useful and would pay off. And it did. It paid off for me, certainly, and the people who worked for me because we were charging people thousands of dollars for each charging companies, for each employee that they trained. And we didn’t try to go into education because we regarded education as so conservative and stuck in its ways that we wouldn’t we would never get anywhere.
Mark Anderson : Yeah, because I can see I I’m trying to remember the name, but I have. Yes, I have your book from that mapping hypertext. Yep, yep, that’s it. It’s actually just right at arm’s reach. But yes,
Peter Wasilko : I could look at the look at the table of contents if you wish.
Mark Anderson : Sometimes, yeah, because an interesting sort of hearing you describe this, I mean, because I can certainly see that the closer you get to the more humanities end of things, people said, Oh, this looks far too abstract. There’ll be there will be a natural pushback because, yeah, but and yet there’s nothing antithetical about it. It’s just about, in a sense, say what you mean and do a little bit of abstraction, which frankly, is no different to writing your glosses at the top of your, you know, your chapters or indeed the top of the page, as they used to do in days of yore.
Peter Wasilko : I still do. I’m still writing. I every night when I read, when I read my book, I have my little pen handy to write glosses on the top of pages. Hmm.
Brander Zachernuk : I’m curious about in terms of the company and what it did, did you create software formalism to to to make it sort of obligatory to supply that information? Or was it more just a methods and practices kind of affair where you were? You said to do this rather than having it as an obligatory sort of text field that people had to fill in?
Peter Wasilko : Well, it took place so, so long ago in the Middle Ages that there was when when we got when we got a computer into our company, which was as big as my dining room table. The first one, we started thinking about software and eventually we did create software, which was mostly just aimed at enabling writers to format with great facility rather than to demand that they do particular things. Because one of the things about taxonomy, which I claim to be to serve any kind of stable subject matter, by the way, that means any kind of stable subject matter in the world I’ve got I’ve had we’ve trained four hundred thousand people and nobody’s objected. They must have been they must have been writing about different things as one of my assumptions that that is possible. You know, it is also in that kind of taxonomy. What I learned was leave leave 10 percent undefined because it’s going to be there’s going to be a lot of loose ends in human thinking. And but if you can cover 90 percent of the of the the kinds of sentences that are actually written and can can. Categorize those in the taxonomy you’re you do very well and you know, the other 10 percent well, people are creative.
Peter Wasilko : They’ll figure out something to do with it. They’ll play and they’ll probably because they’ve gotten so used to putting subtitles on it. They’ll probably put a subtitle on it so you can check to see whether you want to read it or not. You know. Yes, I was thinking it might be nice to have sort of a group shared a Ford not highlighting per, say, just maybe a gesture, just like stroking over a region of the text that seemed particularly important to us. That could be aggregated over time without changing the appearance of the display. And then you could build up that data and use it to generate sort of a synthetic highlight over the course of the entire body of people who are looking at the text. So it’d be something very casual, just like drag your mouse about halfway down the page where there’s something that you’re finding is particularly useful while you’re reading it so you could come back to it. But it wouldn’t be a highlight that would disrupt your normal reading flow if you were just trying to reread content.
Mark Anderson : That reminds me, having just actually got a book the other day and spent, I spent half an hour rubbing out all the annotations in it, which were not helpful, so I could just read the damn thing. So one thing you can do digitally, at least, is, you know, that would be something you could turn on and off. But the only thing you know, it’s not to speak ill of the last owner of the book, it’s just that, you know, person A’s annotations may not necessarily unless someone is a student or the other of the other person be particularly useful to another reader, apart from the fact that it makes the pages very noisy to read.
Peter Wasilko : Well, actually, I’ve gotten a couple of used books where you can actually see the evolution of the person’s healing. It’s like the first couple of chapters were done, you know, probably some freshman student where 85 percent of a page would be highlighted. Then about a third through the book would drop maybe 50 percent of the page highlighted and then only five percent by the time you got to the last couple of chapters.
Mark Anderson : Yeah. So they’ve given up off to chapter one completely.
Frode Hegland: So Peter wrote here in the chat, making a lot of library excursions today. You may have noticed that I’ve been quiet for the last half an hour mark. I was really quite insulted when you said, should we use data we don’t have? Because we are now under the streetlamp again, a library is a fun and easy thing to do. We have if we want to just have the community be a general chat, that’s one thing. But if we are going to have some kind of focus on some kind of aim, we’ve talked about your database, which is fantastic for the hypertext community. We’re now talking about books, we talked about Wikipedia, we talked about the web, we talked about timelines, we talked about a lot of different things. And I have asked, I know I’m still recording and Bob is new. I was trying to be extra polite as Bob is not new to me, but new to this particular community. We do have future text lab. And, you know, I have what I’ve been really great if you guys had written a basic bio. The only people have written a basic bio is me and events, right? And this has to do with ownership. We have to decide what we are co-owners, if we are, if these chats are literally a coffee shop chat, that Starbucks.
Frode Hegland: That’s one thing, and that’s totally fine, but I think we need a little bit of agreement of where we feel we fit because from my perspective, you know, like with the whole branding, what do we call the journal as I sent an email to? That’s probably quite easy. But if we are to seriously attack the problem of I’m sorry, Bob, this community at the moment is very much about VR air work because I before I gave him my PhD thesis, I didn’t want to look at AI or VR or anything like that. I had to focus on basic texts and then Brandel comes along and ruins everything. So because of Brandel, most of us now have Oculus. And we’re making the assumption that in a year or so, Apple will release some kind of AR VR headsets and we’re using them as kind of a model because they’re very good at the consumer side of things. So we I feel that I know in a year there’ll be something people can buy, put it on, stuff can be seen within that. There are, of course, opportunities, but what I’m very worried about is the ownership issue. And I don’t just mean IP and technical. I also mean ownership of potential.
Frode Hegland: So we know that it’s going to be meeting rooms and games, that’s all going to be fine. But what we’re trying to find out here is and this is kind of in the beginning of the discussion again, we imagine a friend calling up some kind of a knowledge worker, business, academia, it doesn’t really matter. They are wondering whether they should buy this device, and we want to be able to say yes because you can do this thing in it. And the reason that is so important and obviously sorry, guys, the rest of you have heard this a few times, but you know, when we had the first WYSIWYG machines with the goo in all of that, once we had a word processor that became word innovation and word processing completely stopped. There hasn’t been anything for 30 years. Nothing. Right. And once we had a spreadsheet, of course, there’s been some things behind the scenes that is known, that is what it is. So if we don’t know, produce a mental thing for people? That oh my god, we are is not just hollow rooms or whatever it might be, it is something we haven’t figured out yet. I think it’s going to be a huge opportunity cost for us as a species.
Mark Anderson : That’s what we’ve just been discussing for about the last half hour. It’s entire. It’s all pertinent to exactly what you’ve discussed.
Brander Zachernuk : Yeah. With regard to the to the to the bio and things like that, I may have sort of inadequately communicated the other day when I said that I was a near a college dropout. It was not to be self-effacing. I obviously have a very high opinion of my output and my abilities. But what what it does mean is that writing policy and labeling what I am and what I do is a completely foreign concept to me. And what intention might what, what intention might underpin that and what function it might serve for a blogger community is something that I have very little context for. That’s why I make and that’s why I put those things out there. But in terms of actually announcing what I am and what I do beyond producing those pieces of work, I don’t know what it’s for. So that’s why I haven’t had. I haven’t leapt into it.
Mark Anderson : I can I can accord with that and what I’ve done at the moment and is basically just make a stop because it’s a start. So. So probably the thing that will help freight at this point is literally even if it’s just, you know, my literally is just a couple of sentences and I will go back and put something in there. But then it’s then it’s something because one of the things I’m realizing out of this is, and I think it’s probably going to fall into my lap is one of the things we need is a is in a sense, a table of contents of what we’re doing. A number of things on way. We have the journal.
Frode Hegland: Mark, Mark, Mark. Please let me just finish, please. Ok. You cut me off saying this is what we’ve been doing for the last half an hour, an aspect of what we have been doing for the last hour. And of course, it is that. Right. But I’m sorry for using that analogy again, it is looking under a headline right now or a straight line right now, of course, to make your library will be worthwhile. And there is data available and it’ll be a good thing. But I really do think we need to look at the framing issues around that, OK, because things like that, I mean for crying out loud, like CD collections since Mac version one, there’s been collection things out there and I’m not saying they’re not useful, but I’m saying other people will think of it. Maybe we end up doing it, but to have to really think of, to really step back. And to look at this person in this situation, what kind of running out of time, I don’t think we can do it today. I think we’ll be really, really worthwhile because these discussions, one of them, one is on this topic and one is on that topic. That’s all good. My feeling is I’m quite literally a nobody. So Brandel is putting his perspective. I have really no credibility, right? Apple has 2000 people working on this Oculus. Excuse me, Meadow just lost. What is it, $500 million yesterday or something because of issues? These are huge companies with huge resources to do huge things. Right, so if we’re going to have any kind of effect, it has to be so laser focused on something that other people really aren’t doing. And that’s why I get quite stressed out when we go into something that is really. Look, the library thing, super exciting. Super useful.
Mark Anderson : What library thing when we’re.
Frode Hegland: But the library we’ve been talking about how to look at books in the library. Table of Contents. All these things we do.
Mark Anderson : No, no. The comment about the library, it was simply that there is a data set of would rightly point out there is a data set that we can explore to to give some to give some actual sort of structure to what we’re exploring. That’s not that’s nothing to do with. We’re trying to make a library system. It’s just it’s finding finding data that is complete enough and big enough to allow to allow one to explore the thing. Otherwise, we end up with very broad hand hand-waving objectives that don’t get us to the objective you want, you know? But I mean,
Brander Zachernuk : The thing is, if
Frode Hegland: This is so bizarre, I mean, Peter literally wrote, We’re making a lot of library excursions today, you know, the word library. The word has been used a lot and there’s nothing wrong with it. But earlier on when you know, by the way, Bob Mark is one of my close friends, so we’re having an argument. But please take that into context, and we’re both very supportive of each other’s work. So when you said earlier that, you know, what are we going to do, work with data we don’t have, that wasn’t very nice, right? But the thing is, we need to find out whom to augment first. That means not just the type of person, but we need to know the kind of thing to do. And I think it is, you know, with our many different data sources, you know, I have, just like Bob, suggested we need to start writing things down. Brandel writes, by making Adam writes, by making. I written a longer article that I haven’t been able to share with you guys because it’s a complete mess. You know, it’s really, really hard. I would like to write this thing in some sort of a VR environment,
Peter Wasilko : Right, by writing a memo instead of an article.
Frode Hegland: Yeah, I do. And I kind of shunt the. In the executive thing here, and that’s what I plan to share, not the whole thing, but the thing is building these things is very, very hard, obviously. I’ve built author. But the fact that I haven’t solved these problems and author, even the fact that I’m problems writing something for you guys is really stressful. So therefore, to try to find the thing that will actually help us as a community, you know who to augment, because one of the things that was brought up this conclusion of my own paper as well, the finder, we need to be our finder. All our knowledge in there. And, of course, Mark, I agree that we need real data. And the reason it’s annoying to hear this is this from you is because you’ve provided us with one of the best data sets we have, you know, the ACM Hypertext. It is a very, very good. And as far as books are concerned, we have Google Books to search and they give us all kinds of goodies. But but at this point, you know, we’re sitting here with Brandel, who has deep insight of years of thinking deeper than any of us new guys in here. And of course, a newbie perspective is useful too. When you know you’ll feel a little bit of what I feel right, we need to find the right thing and then find that data to fit it to. How can we help this friend of ours who makes the phone call by saying, Oh yeah, but you can do this. We need to think along those lines, right?
Peter Wasilko : Well, if this is this, the I’ll just ask the question, is this the plan for the Monday and Friday discussions? I just dropped in after having been away for several months and and this is a much smaller group than. Then I was with a few months ago, and I’m not particularly interested in the virtual reality getting ready for Apple thing right now, so I probably won’t be a part of it.
Frode Hegland: So the answer to that, bob, is we look at it slightly differently and the group varies a lot in size. But the ones that aren’t the monthly or the annual, yes, absolutely smaller. And there has been some amazing work done earlier in the group. But the reason we’re looking at AR VR is, first of all, we think of it as just living in a space where you have kind of hologram amazingness just mentally. This is not about you have to strap a thing on your head, necessarily, but it is, from my perspective, it is the birth of a completely new medium. And until we live in it for a while and experience problems and have arguments like this. We are not going to know what it is and the one thing that we have that the big companies don’t have is we don’t have a financial stake. You know, both Apple and Metta. This is billions of dollars for them. This is existential for them. You know, all we really I think I’m speaking for the group. All we’re really trying to do is find a way to show people that you can demand much more. And it’s not just about how to move around the 3D space. I think your perspective and insights are relevance. I think you could be very much part of this conversation. From what I’ve heard today, you’re talking about how to deal with the table of contents. Hugely important. How to map things hugely important. So, you know, it’s up to you. You’re welcome to come in as you see fit, but for for me, I am really scared that when these things happen, that will immediately be labeled on people’s minds as being something lesser than they can be.
Brander Zachernuk : And so as to point it out, but I sort of somewhat set the cat amongst the pigeons with regard to HIV simply by sort of coming in and talking about sort of a fairly mundane uses of it being able to do something I built in twenty seventeen was a word processor, something I built in twenty nineteen. This is a Wikipedia browser that allows you to lend your eyes multiple tracks of Wikipedia articles as into the dates that are relevant within. So you can look at the Wikipedia article on Hypertext. Look at it next to Xanadu, next to TED Nelson, next to the Cold War, and all of the specific technological developments that were driven as a consequence of various findings. Brian Brandel talks about the Sputnik moment and its impact on on Project Plato. And it’s really nice to see those things because a lot of the time, unless you have intimate familiarity with those timelines, then you don’t get to be able to kind of implicitly overlay them in your mind in a way to be able to do that. So. So, so one thing that has happened of late is that because because I am personally very interested in the way in which more space allows you to explore using that space to mean more things, that sort of the center of massive discussions has has gravitated toward things like augmented and virtual reality. But I absolutely agree that it’s it’s not essential to be to the sole point to point about worrying that that ground will be lost immediately without without getting into too much inside baseball within the field. I don’t I don’t think that’s the case. As I’ve kind of mentioned in the past, practitioners within Facebook and within Google and within the place that I work don’t have the slightest clue what to do with this technology. So I’m not I’m not especially concerned that the sort of the ground will be set. The cement will be set immediately at the at the instant that it lands. You’re speaking and I can’t hear you, Frodo. You’re not muted, but I wasn’t speaking.
Frode Hegland: I was managing to shut up for once in my life. It’s nice to hear that that second half. But Bob, here’s the thing. You know, I’m. Yeah, OK, whatever. I feel that I being amongst friends. I have seen things coming and technology for the last 20, 30 years, and I’ve talked about it haven’t been able to do something useful. No, not often. Right? But yeah, a painter paints because they’re a painter. It’s not necessarily about being successful. For my own personal perspective, I think that in, let’s say, three to four years, we will all be living in augmented realities. We will have no choice. It’s just like you were talking about that early computer in your office, and it does not mean we’re going to throw away our laptops and our phones. Absolutely not. But I do feel that what will quickly happen is that the full virtual environment will be our work reality. Did you freeze, Bob? We lost him then we so thought, yes, we’ll stop blinking.
Mark Anderson : We’ve all been zoning in and out unintentionally, I think today.
Frode Hegland: I was just going to tell him the thing about, you know, we still need that 2D rectangles into this world, but that’ll be our anyway, whatever. But, OK, how about this then, guys? Those of us who are unfrozen that we try to write or think or something about? Something more around the frames of what we’re going to do by by maybe Monday, something along those lines. I’ll try to share my little thing, but. Well, actually, Brandel, let me just do a multiple choice with you, since you have so much experience, no one. Are you leaning towards room scale or stand up by your desk for most of this stuff?
Brander Zachernuk : Um, I think that there are really interesting opportunities in sitting. I think that a lot of folks who are playing with it, if you look at that YouTube VR example to that, that that was released the other day, that that’s expected to be sitting. And so I think standing, sitting, walking around. My my personal use case is I want to walk up and down in my backyard. I want to be I want to be able to walk the full length of my back, which is not incredibly generous. I live in Silicon Valley, but I’ve got it. I might as well, planet. So my intention is to use it to walk up and down and to be able to codify aspects of that where I can pin things at various places along there. You know, unfortunately, it’s ground. Its bounds are a little bit short for that so that I don’t have the full length, I don’t have the use of the full length of the space. And it’s a bit uncomfortable just in terms of the way. But but ultimately, you know, should should something with with the ergonomics of it arrive, I will be walking and I would love to make sure that we enable it because I think something special happens when we move our bodies. So yeah, I would say while it is probably the better case for for a lot of people, I my my personal interest lies in moving around in a space and actually moving around quite a lot. And it’s my hope, whether people are people’s laziness sort of overtakes them there.
Brander Zachernuk : But if if it if we can bring it to be that it has utility to walk up and down to pace, I think it’s not beyond people to be able to take that on to in the event that it becomes useful enough to justify. And we might have a long corridor like office spaces for people. You talked about whether people have the spaces in their in their lives for this. I was reminded of the work that was done in the early 20th century on completely refactoring the kitchen. The space was fundamentally changed like we thought you were very, very thoughtfully listening for it for a time there, and we realized that even somebody listening is thoughtful still has cause to blink their eyes at times. So welcome back. But yeah, so I think that if, if, if there’s cold to change things, then people will change them so that if if office spaces need to have long walking tracks for people that mean that they that they get along strip that they can actually do walking in, then then by God, we’ll do it. I think the work from home kind of revolution that COVID has brought. This sort of reminds us that what what an office space is, what working spaces are ought to be up for grabs. And if this computing stuff works, then we might be able to change it so that we actually just all walk on sprinting tracks, but at a collegial kind of plod while we’re doing our walk and talks and putting stuff in space.
Frode Hegland: So yeah, considering you are very important to us because of your deep knowledge of this, both in time and in learning, that is, of course, important.
Brander Zachernuk : Nobody else agrees with me, by the way, but that’s where I am. Nobody what nobody else thinks that way. Everybody thinks it will be doing VR sitting down, but I want to walk around.
Frode Hegland: No, I don’t disagree with you for a minute. And I think that what Peter and Mark has been saying over time as well is, you know, like memory palaces and stuff. There’s no yeah, no. I completely agree with you. I would I would like to do exactly that. But then there is there will be a point where you will need to reconfigure stuff to get the knowledge like you have a let’s say you have a bookshelf for a certain type of book in a certain room. At some point it will need to pull out only specific things. Maybe that’s the kind of interaction we should we should look at because placing something spatially, Apple seems to have solved that to a huge degree. Not completely, obviously, because the glasses aren’t out, but I was reading up on the current state of art that Apple has made public. Crazy, good stuff. This is the mobile phones.
Brander Zachernuk : Oh yes. In terms of yeah, in terms of ARKit as sort of mediated by iPhone and iPod. Yeah, no, there are really, really amazing things for fresh thinking. And it’s conceivable that those could go into a future technology that is able to integrate them more seamlessly.
Frode Hegland: But OK, so let’s for fun, because I think this is another thing we agree with. We want different libraries of sorts, whether it’s our digital documents or books or notes or whatever. We want that library to be in multi room scale. We want to be able to put things in our environment, whatever it is, homework, wherever. Then we get to the point of taking some of that out. Some of the aspects of that out. And that’s why it was very frustrating with the discussion of table contents earlier because it is so very, very important. Maybe because it applies to this. I mean, I would like to be able to. Ok, so end author. One of the things I wanted is that when you save your document, you have to choose a cover. So you can see whether it’s just a note or it’s a book, you know, that kind of visual stuff, I know Bob would relate to that it’s a very visual person. So in order to and also mark, sorry for doing all these name drops, they’re a bit mark you’ve been going on and on lately about people just putting in bucket of knowledge. I completely agree with you that that’s not useful, but you’ve also said another thing that I really want to highlight, and that is people no longer write for a medium. They write for remediation. So if we provide let’s take visual matter, for instance, you can save a book where it is really, really document where it’s really, really clear that the table of contents will be used in this amazing way. Or you make a 3-D sculpture out of it or whatever that kind of investigations, right? So may be one of the things we can do is, yes, we’ll have all these things we can have. But maybe we look at look at the to the production of a presentation and the consumption of it all.
Mark Anderson : Yeah, I mean, that was my future text piece this year. Well, it wasn’t. I’m not sure we are writing for mediation. I think it’s happening, whether we know it and whether we want it or not. We’re part of the thing and I’m aware that, you know, and in a sense, this is what we’re doing here is is aware that means there. It needs tools that we we don’t well, actually tools and to a certain extent, some human augmentation approach we just don’t have at the moment. You know, we are still basically thinking in print terms, living in a digital world. You know, the metaphors, the you know, the sort of comfortable place we go to is, yes, we understand that most people, you know, adults are grown up with books around them, not necessarily whole libraries full of books, but you know, things printed in some way or even even if they’re of a younger generation. What they what they’ve had is is digital facsimiles of print. So even if we’ve moved away from the physical medium, we definitely haven’t moved away from the concept of that medium. And that’s, I think, the real the real challenge that gets to the heart of the issue, as you’re saying, is that. You know, how do we transform? I mean, that said, I don’t think it’s bad to talk about existing things that we have as models because we have to move from where we are.
Mark Anderson : We can’t, you know, it’s not the Old West Country term where you ask for direction. So they say to you, Well, you don’t want to start from here and give you directions to the next village over because that’s how what they know, you know, so we do have to get from where we are. But but that’s why I thought today was interesting. So we know we were reflecting on the fact that so you could take something as pedestrian as a table of contents. But if you begin to meld that into the likes of visual matter, suddenly you’ve got a whole different, you know, you have have a much, much richer thing to play with and you can begin to get let go of the old legacy. And you don’t ever call it a table of contents or something, but you’re getting closer to your idea of the concept map and the glossary. Some things. So to me, I see a very happy, gentle, you know, ill defined but but potential line of advance through that. You know, I suppose, you know, my coming from my first background, you know, sort of see where you learn that if you don’t pay attention, you know, things bite. And so I’m ever the pragmatist in the sense that, you know, to a certain extent, we’ve got to work with what we’ve got.
Mark Anderson : And I wasn’t being totally flippant when I said, What do we look? You know, do we look for things we don’t have? It’s not. So what I was reflecting there is that, yeah. But you know, we may not have what we want, but if we don’t know if we can’t, if we can’t express what the things are that we don’t have with sufficient fidelity to get going well, we might as well work with something we’ve got until such point that we get a moment of some clarity. So again, I don’t think I don’t think these views are antithetical at all. But the ability, the ability of the kind of things that, to my mind, that you know, Brandel and Adam can do, which I certainly can’t. In doing clever things with code where the information is at the end of the day does depend depend on that. So again, that’s why I didn’t think reference to, you know, having lots of stuff in the Internet Archive is a bad idea because it’s just something to lean against while you while you sketch out this much broader vision. Otherwise, it just has nothing underpinning it. Well, that makes it very hard to do so abstract.
Frode Hegland: Not necessarily. I see Peter, but the thing we were just talking about was the production and consumption side. And I’m wondering about I’ll just put the note in here. I saw Brandel let you actually talk to Maggie Appleton recently, which is great. What might be interesting is talk to her about exactly what Peter suggested. So I’m kind of a visual metaphor, block translation or integration. And then we can work on packaging because what we have really highlighted in this discussion, I think, is the importance of book covers. And I mean, book covers in the deepest sense. For instance, glossary terms and a kind of a word map is a very useful thing to know about a book. All these different things, how it can be surfaced so that it can on a virtual bookshelf, be useful information. So that’s a point of starting with no data at all, but we have to produce it for our own documents. So that’s what I mean, Mark. I’m not. Yeah. Anyway, before Peter and Bob Brandel, what do you think? Would you want to raise such a point or try to get her in that dialogue? Maybe get her to a meeting?
Brander Zachernuk : I suggested that she come. I think that she probably would. Well, we’ll come to the next sort of monthly. But in terms of what she’s doing at the moment, it’s it’s a little bit more focused on the stuff that’s happening. I’m not sure if it’s a Fog Creek or wherever, what, under whatever auspices she’s working with Sapolsky. So I don’t know. I don’t know. I’ve made that made that invitation.
Frode Hegland: Ok, lovely. Peter Peter. Very good. Brandel. I was wondering, does anyone taking a look at how effective the omni directional treadmills are?
Peter Wasilko : Were they eliminate the problems with moving around or have, say, having your viewpoint moved around without you physically moving around? Or would your body still realize that it’s not actually being translated on the X and Y dimension because it’s only being rolled back to center point and have the same problems?
Brander Zachernuk : Yeah. So the issue is that the scale of treadmill that is required in order to be able to kind of fall because it’s not just your your feet, it’s your vestibular apparatus, it’s your sense of acceleration linear. Yeah, that’s right. So so in order to be able to do that and have that apparent motion, you do have to have a large enough treadmill that you can kind of counter with it. One one thing that what that people have had relatively good success with is redirected walking and and what’s called Sakata redirected walking. So redirected walking only works when you’re in full VR rather than an air. But what it means is that you have, rather than undertaking a turn of 90 degrees, you can change that to say 70 degrees or maybe even 180 degrees, where you you increase the intensity of of a turn and some of your sense of space is impaired. But there’s a company, I think unfortunately now has gone bust but called the void, where they had a large number of circular hallways that were had a large enough turning radius that perceptually. It felt like you were walking along an infinite corridor. If they sort of continually sort of returned, you people have done a category direct of walking where because of the fact that we tend involuntarily to look at things like fireflies, flickers in our eyes and also combine that with the fact that we’re blind during that transitional period between those moments of decay that you can artificially stimulate those sort of sensory blind spots such that you can redirect a view, particularly while somebody is walking, so that they won’t be aware of it and they will self-correct within a certain sort of small field of range, which means that you have this programmatic capacity for being able to direct people into specific spaces, and you can dial that up and down in particular to avoid interpersonal collisions if you have a large enough space that you’re mediating a large number of people with him.
Brander Zachernuk : So there’s some really interesting pieces of work there. They only work in VR rather than they are, because if you can see the real world to breaks. But it is interesting if you if you want to be able to kind of mediate a large number of things or have one space code for another that you don’t necessarily have access to,
Peter Wasilko : You have access to any papers on that that we could have a look at. I’d be very happy about that. Yeah, what I
Brander Zachernuk : From West and Pi and VRC I’ll take.
Peter Wasilko : Oh, very good.
Brander Zachernuk : Thanks so much, Mr. Bob. Yeah.
Peter Wasilko : It may it might be useful. In discussions like this to have an agenda. That is not necessarily a detailed one, but to discuss VR and air all at the same time. For example. Are encourages people to jump around. And I get very, you know, I get very excited about one thing and somebody else gets something, and it’s just can’t hardly wait to change the topic. And so you can’t go deeply into anything. And you can’t go deeply into defining the problem. For example, so a certain part of this has to do with how, how, how you want to have meetings happen. There are very well, very well run meetings and ones that are just general brainstorming and so forth and general discussions, and I think there that it would be useful for some at least people to say spend a half hour or an hour on air. Augmented reality is going to be you’re right, I agree it’s going to it’s going to be happening, what’s going to be, you know? And you know, and some of the things that are learned in are going to be taken into VR as well. And then we’re going to talk about what are the gaps in, you know, or whatever, you know. In other words, there’s there’s there’s and and see if if it’s possible for this group to focus on, you know, making some progress on on things.
Frode Hegland: Believe it or not, Bob, that is what we’re trying to do.
Peter Wasilko : Well, there are methodologies for facilitating groups like agendas and charities at the beginning that this is what we’re going to try to do for the next half hour or hour. Can I get everybody’s agreement?
Frode Hegland: It’s not that easy, bob, in this context, because Brandel and Adam are both creators. And Adam, Swedish guy. Wonderful. He’s not here. You know, he will make stuff that is really cool, but I have asked him to write something. He just won’t do it right. Same with Brandel, and it’s for good reasons. They’re not being hostile or stupid. Far from it, they are extremely pleasant and extremely intelligent people. So when I then write what I think is kind of a manifesto. I have shotgun wounds to the side of my face because there’s been disagreements, right? Yeah. And that’s really, really difficult. I have had to twice now. I’ve had real, you know, I write, I write with my style and I’ve been really shot down by it. And OK, that’s been extremely unpleasant for me. But the point is, once we know what we’re doing and I think everybody agrees with your goal of having some structure, that’s fine. But we are such neurodivergent people here. We have very, very different ways of looking at the world and communicating that there will have to be some punching the paper bag, so to speak. But I think today we did make a little bit of progress because Brandel is the most important person in terms of knowledge, not in terms of direction, necessarily because of his experience, both in terms of using and doing the research.
Frode Hegland: So when Brandel says that he wants to walk around the house in his garden, I have to adjust my thinking because there is no no point me coming here saying I want to do something completely different. And I completely agree with this point. I’ve written some notes along it, and I was just a little tiny note. Here is in our actual garden. There’s one stretch that’s 20 meters long. What I will be doing with Edgar, my son, when he’s a little bit older, is put the sun on one place like the size of a tennis ball and then have the Solar System to scale. Right, that’ll be a fun thing for us to do, but of course, an air, you can have myriads of things of that all over the house and the garden. You can have timelines and scales and it’ll be absolutely, insanely incredible. So I think we’re still in the face and it’s hugely frustrating for me and Bob. I actually think you’re talking on my behalf and I love you for it. But I still think we have to accept that we are not quite there yet. To get to the more structured bit, even though I would absolutely love it.
Brander Zachernuk : Yeah, but I have to go now. Maybe now, but I will say, I think that there’s a sort of a necessary sort of discovery, a honeymoon period with a new technology, and I’m excited that this this discussion has ended up being sort of weighted toward my favorite subject of VR. But I will. I agree with Bob that there are other ways of looking at things and that there are other things where a lot of the stuff we talk about, about the mediation of different formats and structures and theoretical approaches to structuring that information pertain in all kinds of things 2D and 3D and mixed reality. And don’t forget, we’ve got projection and all other kinds of ways of doing it rather than TED and display, so we don’t need to worry too much about it. So I would be I really, really appreciated your participation, Bob, and I would love to to make sure that we can continue talking at a at a level of abstraction that toward a direction that would keep you here because it’s really a thrill to have your experience with creating things brought to bear against what we’re sort of talking about here.
Frode Hegland: Thank you. Thank you, Brandel, have a good weekend rush to your meeting and, yeah, look forward to seeing on Monday. But while he’s he’s logged off while he’s kind of logging off, don’t forget Bob, or maybe you don’t know, sorry. We do, of course, have these videos on YouTube, which is a bit embarrassing at times, and we also have full transcripts. So it means that as we are punching around, you know, that’s how it is. And also this year, the book will be produced in a different way. We have a monthly journal. We have the first issue out, as you know, for January, which is, well, the first one was just a transcript of the main thing and then a tiny article. What I will be doing is soliciting articles including, of course, from you to go into the journal and at the end of the year, they will be collated into the next volume of the book. So if your way of communicating and working is closer to mine, writing articles, trying to have a focus that would be great and these other guys can do something else and then we fight in these things and in the best possible way,
Bob Horn: I just write memos these days because the way English teachers have taught us to write essays forever is dysfunctional for the most part.
Frode Hegland: You’re completely right. I mean, it’s more hyper textual to write the way you’re talking. The reason talk is phenomenally successful is because it’s a little bit digital, is a little bit digital isn’t a big, solid thing.
Bob Horn: Well, it has its little bits that are structured and have labels and are spatially distributed. You know, that’s that’s the frontier that we’re actually at, in my view. And. Uh. And that if we move into that as the, you know, the adjacent possible, then we create a new reality, which then enables us to move on to the next possibilities.
Frode Hegland: Indeed, I say the time I also have to run, I’m afraid. Ok. Thanks for being here, Bob. If you want to come in and out. That’s super nice. If you want to write memos for the article. Please do. All right. It’s so important that the contributions to the article is whatever the heck you want to write it, you know, don’t go into a stall that isn’t you.
Bob Horn: Oh, great weekend, everybody. I’m focused on I’m focused on the ability of of of trying to improve the ability of some of the better thinkers in the world to improve their thinking. That’s all I’m interested in
Frode Hegland: On and on that beautiful bombshell.
Peter Wasilko : See you later, guys. Okay. All right. All right. Be safe.