Re: A Theoretical Model for Knowledge Work & Symbol Manipulation (4 Aug)

Frode Hegland published a draft “A Theoretical Model for Knowledge Work & Symbol Manipulation (4 Aug)”. Here are some initial responses.

Text isn’t necessarily about knowledge, just think about prose for entertainment. Text can be written in an attempt to trigger emotions, which is hardly an expression of “knowledge”, except in the broadest possible sense which would make everything “knowledge” after all, so it might help to define the term “knowledge” that’s used to define the term “text”.

It’s not true that writing or authoring necessarily needs to result in linear text or the resulting text to be frozen. It only must be linear because the printed book is linear, but if the tools wouldn’t be crappy, one could as well write non-linear texts, with writing on/for the web or e-mails sometimes turning out to be something in between. The text is “frozen” if writing on it stops, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t start again at any time. The act of publication “freezes” the text in a sense, because traditionally, as soon as another individual obtains a copy, that copy tend to not get updated, therefore needs to be considered as frozen. But what happens if there is an update path? How do we think about a text being frozen by being published, but another version based on the text is published every day? Can we call it “frozen” if the so-called “reader” (the one who obtained a copy) starts to change his copy? So to really freeze a text, it needs to be printed onto paper or into a certain book edition (we freeze it by making it non-digital), or to put it in a version control system, or fix a publication with a timestamp at the Internet Archive, the latter two only making it canonical because people can still obtain copies, change them and publish the result as well.

There might be many “hypertext communities”, but claiming that “wider access addressability” is solely relying on web URLs or that the file name has anything to do with the format or encoding or that the “addressability” is only implemented by fragment identifiers and corresponding anchors in HTML web documents, is far from hypertexty systems and therefore don’t find consensus as a reasonable approach.

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