Associative Writing Framework: SJC Demonstration

Using the Associative Writing Framework to write a hypertext commentary on Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads: A Subversive Proposal for Electronic Publishing.

See also: Using the Associative Writing Framework to capture and present an interpretation of Spinstren

NOTES: (1) The TechSmith Screen Capture Codec is required to view the videos in this demonstration. (2) The videos are quite large (almost 1000x1000 pixels); I recommend full-screen viewing.

The book is actually a compilation of emails forming the basis of an on-line discussion about scientific and scholarly journals which took place in 1994-95. I found that as I read the various emails a number of different debate structures in the material became apparent (often implicit, but sometimes partially explicated through the email quoting mechanism: ">"). This demonstration attempts to give a flavour of these connections, and demonstrates how the associative writing framework can be used to capture and build on them.

1. Annotating Web pages

Authors start by adding annotations to Web pages using the integrated Annotate toolbar (here, Stevan Harnad's claim regarding paper vs. electronic publishing costs in scholarly journals is annotated). These annotations are stored (encoded as RDF) at an Annotation Server (many authors may use the server). Whenever a Web page is visited, a request is sent to the server for any annotations which should be displayed on that page. In the video, caching is turned off so there is a slight delay between going back to the annotated page and seeing the annotation re-appear.

2. Navigating annotations

Quick navigation between annotations on a page (here, annotations are related to publishing costs in scholarly journals).

3. Adding link annotations

To record connections between ideas and comments, authors use the Relate tool. Relationships between annotations on the screen can simply be "drawn" using the mouse or a stylus on a tablet PC). These "link annotations" follow the movement of windows and scrollbars, and are visible whenever both endpoints of the link are displayed. Meta-information about the link (who created it, when, and attached link semantics) can be toggled in the display. Link annotations can also be displayed using ghosted (dashed) lines when one of the endpoints is obscured by another window. In this video, two conflicting statements about journal publishing costs are connected.

4. Linking pages

Connections can be recorded between documents as well, or as in this video, between documents and annotations. Here, an entire page seems relevant to the developing argument about publishing costs, and is connected in supporting role to Stevan Harnad's comments about his own publishing experiences.

5. Developing Workspace

This video shows the developing workspace as further components of the publishing costs argument are identified and connected.

6. Visualising and navigating hyperstructures

Each annotation has a pop-up menu which can be used to navigate to other related annotations. Part of the Annotation Server functionality is a visualisation interface which visualises connections between annotations. The visualisation is a clickable image map - clicking on a symbol in the visualisation will open the original annotated page and scroll the display to the annotation. In the video, the structure of the argument captured in the previous steps is visualised. Note that the annotation we clicked on is outlined in bold in the visualisation. The circular symbol is the Web page that was connected into the structure in step 4.

7. Associative writing

After building up a network of interconnected annotations and Web pages, the author can use these hyperstructures as a basis for writing a new hypertext. Authors can use the pop-up menus on annotations and visualisations to create links in their hypertext. In the video, two links are created to annotated pages which explain concepts, and a link is created to the hyperstructure representing the debate about publishing costs in scholarly journals. The Microsoft Frontpage editing tool is currently integrated with the framework, but others are likely to follow.

8. Published hypertext

In this video, the published hypertext is visibly and tangibly linked into the underlying hyperstructures which it describes.