Hypertext: Socratic Authoring

The Future Text Initiative published an introduction to the notion of “Socratic Authoring”, which is pretty straightforward in describing the general requirements for a modern writing and publishing system. For sure similar visions have already been expressed before, but this proposal might be the most recent one.

In it, we find the demand to retain as much as possible from the richness the author experienced during composition. What does this mean? Is it referring to WYSIWYG, the ability of the author to hide parts of the process, the realization that the reader might become a co-author and therefore needs an equivalent writing environment? It sounds like we don’t want to see works being produced electronically just to end up in a single, primitive, fixed form, so re-digitalization would be needed to enrich it again.

Then there’s the suggestion that semantic augmentation should take place when the document is on a server. I ask, why should this only be possible on a server? Why shouldn’t the user deserve full augmentation on the client side also? Sure, augmentation could require some resources that are only available online or include actions that need to be executed on a different machine, but even when disconnected or without using an external proxy (regardless if such an external online service is owned or third party), the user should face artificial limitation just because the client side is lacking implementation.

To be continued…

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