Title: The Writing and Editing Aspects of the System - Hypertext Editing System (HES)


Considering just the editing capabilities of our Hypertext Editing System, there is a difference in kind between our approach and the standard computer approaches to editing.

Most computer editing systems are designed for minimal equipment, such as the teletypewriter. In contrast we wanted to take advantage of the full capabilities of a high-powered computer display. An editing system which might be sufficient for programmers will not fulfill the needs of writers. Most computer editing systems, especially the so-called "line" or "context" editors, (Deutsch, 1967), are primarily used with formalized or stylized texts -- such as computer programs themselves -- where line numbers, keywords, or labels are used as sure guides to content.

We did not wish to inflict line numbers on the user, or to make him "program" little changes in his data (as by typing in substitution operators). Such systems require great patience and saintliness on the part of the user, and run less by computer power than by the power or positive thinking. We wished instead to implement the "positive power of grunting" -- the user's ability to effect changes by minimal and rudimentary actions.

We also wished the user to make reference to his work conceptually, by sections or by context of ideas, however he feels is natural.

Our philosophical position is essentially that the writer is engaged in very complicated pursuits, and that this work legitimately has a freewheeling character that should not be encumbered with irrelevant restrictions on size and structure of text or operations -- ideally, "anything goes" as long as it is well defined.

Therefore it became our intent to provide the user with unrestricted "spatial" options, and not to bother him with arbitrary concerns that have no meaning in terms of the work being performed. The entities he would be concerned with would correspond to the content of conventional writing: words, sentences, paragraphs, sections, and also non-structured, arbitrary fragments of text to be rearranged and spliced into appropriate combinations. He would not encounter line numbers, page artifacts, or footnote numbers, all of which are extraneous artfacts of conventional writing "hardware", that is, paper.

His activities, too, would correspond to the operations ordinarily performed upon text by writers and editors. He would be able to perform manipulations directly upon pieces of text: correcting, moving, linking and copying etc. Such actions would correspond directly to the "scissors-and-paste" operations of rearranging manuscripts. In addition, the writer would be able to do various other things which are usually very costly in time and/or money, or downright impossible: file previous drafts, spin off alternative versions for separate tinkering, and communicate between separate versions, lifting or replacing sections as desired.

As an aside, we know of only one other group, that of Douglas Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute, which has produced a system along similar lines -- their work on "Augmenting Human Intelligence" is first rate (Engelbart, 1968).

A Hypertext Editing System for the /360
Steven Carmody, Walter Gross, Theodor H.Nelson, David Rice, Andries van Dam
Center for Computer & Information Sciences
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
File Number HES360-0
Form AVD-6903-0
4 April 1969
Page 8

See also
Traction872: Future Developments - Hypertext Editing System (HES)
Traction867: First Banner Ad - October 1968, Hypertext Editing System (HES)
Traction868: Mysterious Glitches - Hypertext Editing System (HES)
Traction1337



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Article: Traction871 (permalink)
Categories: :Doc:FYI
Date: February 16, 1998; 2:58:19 PM EST
Author Name: Greg Lloyd
Author ID: grl