future of text

 The Journal : jrnl


For the special Symposium on the 50th Anniversary of Doug Engelbart's demo, 9th of December 2018, we will produce a printed book of presentations of the speakers and additional written statements by them. Furthermore, in order to honour a small part of his legacy, we are building our version of his Journal (we are calling just ‘jrnl’ to differentiate it in people's minds) which aims to deliver on some of the interactive elements which he invented but which are largely missing from today's online environments and that is this project.


The point jrnl is that we believe that connected online documents are still in infancy. We can and must do better.


Platform : WordPress


Inspired by Doug Engelbart we are working to not only write about this in hypothetical terms but also to build it so that we can demonstrate the usefulness of what is proposed, all focused around a specific use case.


In order to realise our goal of producing something visibly useful which can be used by anyone who can host a web page, the jrnl has the WordPress blogging platform as its core. This platform we believe has a lot to offer, as Wired recently wrote “it's time for an rss revival.”


In addition to the formal contributions to the Symposium, the jrnl is being populated with the casual dialogue of our daily work as we discuss the system itself which will help us get a better feel for the system as we build it, ‘eating our own dog food’ as they are so fond of saying in Silicon Valley or ‘living on’ as former Apple engineer Ken Kocienda put it more poetically. The different contributions (official Symposium transcript and our dialogue) will naturally be posted under different categories, providing a clear entry point for each year's official Future of Text Symposium posts.


The goal is to make adding to the record usefully browsable, searchable and viewable in flexible ways, to augment the authors ability to be understood and the readers ability to understand, so that we may come closer to escaping the ‘Bush Curse’:

Thus far we seem to be worse off than ever before - for we can enormously extend the record; yet even in it's present bulk we can hardly consult it.

Vannevar Bush The Atlantic Monthly 1945



Components To Build


The jrnl components are separated both to make each one easer to focus on and because they should be as independent as possible in order to remain open and to allow for any other party's components to integrate, supporting a specific use case. To discuss the priorities listed here, please use the Category Priorities in the jrnl.global blog: jrnl Components To Build



Project Updates


We have set up a WordPress blog at jrnl.global for dialogue and testing which you should free to have a look at. jrnl functionalities will be added there over time.





  • Clear visuals
  • Rich interactions
  • Fast Citations
  • High-Resolution Addressing
  • Socratic Authoring considerations
  • Support for multiple timelines view specifications
  • Support for multiple article view specifications
  • Support for -outside-the-document intelligence, where the document can be notified of updates or changes
  • Follow the insights of Doug Engelbart, whom you can hear discuss some of these topics on this site, in the Audio Glossary and read more about on the Doug Engelbart Institute.





  • Based on open blog standards
  • Adheres to standard WordPress and RSS feeds, thus allowing contributors flexibility and data ownership is retained
  • Component based/object oriented so that anyone can choose which functionality they want, without needing to take the whole system
  • Integration with Twitter or other short text/live media
  • Integration with YouTube or other video storage and extract transcripts





  • Frode Hegland, developer of macOS and iOS software; liquid.info is the principal investigator and project lead.
  • Christopher Gutteridge from the University of Southampton is system architect
  • Shane Gibson is principal WordPress architect
  • Gyuri Lajos is an active team member
  • Stephan Kreutzer is actively working on the project.
  • The Advisory Board is Ismail Serageldin, David Price and Howard Rheingold with Vint Cerf as chairman of the advisory board
  • Dialogue Partners include Bruce Horn, Mark Anderson, Jacob Hazelgrove, Marc Antoine Parent, Teodora Petkova, Timour Shoukine and Paul Presley
  • You? We are currently seeking collaborators and funding so please get in touch if you are interested in contributing