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A new approach to finding what to read in a large document or set of documents

Why read a document only from top to bottom, why not read it by theme?

How can we share a document without having to put it on serves when they are too large?

This is an approach to making it easier to skim a large document–or a collection of large documents–& to navigate them non-linearly.


Problem : Size & Access

  • Some books, especially anthologies, such as our own books for The Future of Text are large, both in terms of number of pages and storage, resulting in a need to store the works for download rather than emailing them.
  • The collected works are also numerous, including not only 3 volumes of many articles, but also Journal issues and special session transcript records.
  • The linear layout privileges articles which are early in the alphabetic listing.

The question then becomes how to provide a uniform view of all the works for easy interaction, which the Skim approach below addresses, and giving the reader non-linear access, which the Navigate section addresses:


Approach : Summary Document w local links

I have created a new document, a summary document. If you download this ‘Rolling Journal’ and if you have downloaded the Future of Text books and/or Journals, you will be able to skim through the summaries of all the articles in the Rolling Journal without needing to download a 30-40 odd megabyte document. The Rolling Journal is only 1MB, in which all the articles have all been presented as summaries, which can easily be emailed or even texted:


Each article summary contains the same 3 pieces of information:

  • The FIRST sentence or paragraph of the article, whatever makes sense for the particularly article. This carries the human voice of the author which sets the tone.
  • An AI generated list of main points, human edited for space.
  • The LAST sentence or paragraph of the article, whatever makes sense for the particular article, which rounds the article of and captures the author’s closing thoughts.

If you use Reader for macOS, you will then be able to (because these documents contain Visual-Meta), when you come across an article you find interesting:

  • Click on the number in [hard brackets] under the author’s name for a citation pop-up. This will have the cited document’s title, author name and date.
  • KEY NEW INTERACTION: And then click on the title in that pop-up and the original document will open, to the page the full article was on. (This will happen if you have already opened it in Reader and it has thus been automatically added to your Reader Library).


The Rolling Journal document with all the summaries does not have a table of contents, so that you have several ways to navigate it and you are not just presented with the default linear list:

  • Linear navigation. Right arrow for next page and down arrow for next section (next book) or fold (cmd-minus) into a table of contents
  • KEY NEW INTERACTION: By Theme. On the ‘Themes’ page, select a theme and do cmd-F to see all occurrences of that text in the document. The themes listed here are only a starting point and only meant to be a starting point for the user to access the articles in a quick way, depending on interest


Walkthrough video


An alternative approach

In this example, I have summarised every main section of a transcript, where it looks like someone is talking long enough to call it a ‘lighting talk’ using AI, put the summary right after the speakers name and made it a level 5 heading, so that it shows up in the table of contents. Furthermore, in the folded view, level 5 no longer indents, making the view more readable: