project : jrnl



The Future Text Institute is being founded to support making interactive digital text increasingly useful.


To do that we are building a new kind of online system for posting and reading brief articles in a system we are calling jrnl, pronounced ‘Journal’, named after Doug Engelbart.


The jrnl is based on WordPress so that any and all use of the system will remain open for the authors to move and use as they see fit.


Even though real-time media such as social media are powerfully re-shaping our world, we are initially focusing on slow, deliberate dialogue simply because there is less investment in slow media and it is much more expensive to invest in real-time media. More importantly, slow dialogue allows the reader and author time tom reflect and reason, not just jump into discussion


The dual importance of fostering dialogue, recording it and experimenting with building better text dialogue systems cannot be overemphasised: We must open the dialogue to a wider participation and we must turn words into experiences.





Slow dialogue






annotating (highlight, note taking and marking for future citing)











Project Criteria


The projects must be built to be useful and not just an interesting demo, something which means that more radical ideas are tested but only what is useful remains.


The projects are designed to fit within the internet ecosystem, not as monolithic software 'packages' which one organization controls. In other words, they need to be truly open and connected, doing as little as possible while linking to other tools and systems





There is some work which can demonstrate the utility of more richly interactive text and we need to build this in order to further explain what we are trying to do. The Journal project comes under this category since there are known enhancements we can implement in order to improve the utility of blogs.





Beyond Demonstrations: Experiential Experiments


We believe that in order to understand the nature and potential of powerfully interactive text we need to build increasingly powerful systems as far as currently understand them to potentially be, and do our work in them–effectively increasing the size of our map, of our understanding and inspiration, to then move further into the territory of possible augmentations.


It is no more reasonable to ask a stone age hunter-gatherer to suggest improvements to a word processor than it is to ask people of today to suggest improvements to what Doug Engelbart called ‘symbol manipulation’ and which we humbly refer to simply as ‘interactive text’–we simply have not lived enough with richly interactive text to develop the deep insights of what it can be and therefore need to build and live in the best we currently understand–and progress from there.


We cannot, by definition, specify exactly what we will build as this then would only be implementation based on what is already known. This must be true experimentation on what Doug Engelbart called the 'C' level of activity. Our main experimental project is the dialogue for Online UnderstandinG (DOUG), which will require real dialogue to define and impement:





Supportive Projects

Socratic Authoring (primarily rich PDF)     [standards setting]


Socratic authoring aims to provide the means for an author to build documents richly so that they approach the Socratic ideal of being able to support a dialogue with the reader.


The notion of Rich PDF is part of the ideal of Socratic authoring and is based on the usefulness and ubiquity of PDF and the need for rich document formats which can share more metadata with other applications: Socratic Authoring


High-Resolution Linking Into eBooks     [political/commercial issue]


Currently it is not possible to cite a specific page or passage of a digital book because of commercial barriers. In order for this to be possible there needs to be an open addressing scheme available for commercial eBooks:



Knowledge Graph Support


Knowledge Graph interactions can provide powerful ways to deal with with large volumes of text, as a sub-group of our community is already working on:



Liquid | Flow


The text utility for macOS developed by Frode Hegland under the Liquid Information Company could become an institute project and intellectual property:


[This is still being decided based on what would be most beneficial for the institute]



Liquid | Author


Liquid | Author is a macOS word processor initially focused at student authoring. The project is also owned by The Liquid Information Company run by Frode Hegland but would be released and Open Sourced if it was to become a Future Text project:


[This is still being decided based on what would be most beneficial for the institute]