Archive for August, 2006|Monthly archive page

User/Use Diagram

As an elaboration on who our target users are (knowledge workers), what the target use is (knowledge work) and how it maps onto current and future  Hyperwords features, I have put together a diagram at: The columns on the left are about the work we need to augment, along with a few critical sub-tasks (Click for more info):

finding useful information
avoiding useless information
dialog & production 

The columns on the right are the commands we offer and plan to offer (in italic). This list is not in the order of our menu, but reordered to better fit the general work outline:

about this page

Click on the diagram to zoom in and out.

More Info

Here is the list of general uses with specific uses attached. What do you think of this arrangement? Add/Delete?

finding useful information Find relevant information efficiently
convenient searches
reference look-ups
Navigation along dimensions (people, dialog, inbound links, related, time)

avoiding useless information Not have to trawl through large amounts of noise (same as above, but not searches)
reference look-ups
Navigation along dimensions (people, dialog, inbound links, related, time, home page)

reading Internalize important information
Views (pleasant, color coded, annotations)

analyze Analyze information
reference look-ups
other views
compare & contrast
other applications

dialog & production Discuss information and issues with colleagues and external people, file reports
through voice calls/Skype
through sending emails
through IM
through tagging
through blogging
through annotation
through creating new documents


Target User

Ed asked me some very good questions about the target user (and the following target use), I reply here. The meat is really the last bit.  🙂

I will work on expanding this and finessing it. Please comment.

Target Work to be supported

The target use must be to support knowledge work.

“Knowledge worker, a term coined by Peter Drucker in 1959, is one who works primarily with information or one who develops and uses knowledge in the workplace.”

In practical terms, this means not only reading emails, documents and web pages but analyzing them, looking at the information in different ways,comparing and contrasting and so on.

Part of the analysis is deep reading, but also deciding what not to read. This is especially important on the web with a very large collection of information that is useful, but an overwhelmingly larger amount of information that is worthless.

The result of much knowledge work is the production of new (and new types of) documents.

Target Use

The target use of Hyperwords focuses on helping people:

– Find useful information on the web.
– Read what is useful to them.
– Analyze this information
~ compare & contrast
~ including finding other, related, useful info.
~ look-up references & translations.
– Have dialog about the information.
– Produce other information.

And it does it with these appropriate tools:

– Find useful information on the web.                     (search…)
– Read what is useful to them.                             (view*)
– Analyze this information                                 …
~ compare & contrast                                 (view*)
~ including finding other, related, useful info.     (search…)
~ look-up references & translations.                 (Wikipedia, dictionaries and so on.
At some point glossaries as well)
– Have dialog about the information.                    (blog, tag)
– Produce other information.                             (copy, copy with url and blog.
‘send to application’*)

* Means not yet implemented. We are planning on more view options for 3.0.  ‘send to application’ may make it in 2.0

Sony Mylo — maybe not so bad

In response to IP post:
On 14 Aug 2006, at 23:11, David Farber wrote:
I think the general purpose device will remain for “some” purposes. But many of the conceivable purposes will have been “off-loaded” to more limited devices.
Roland J. Cole, J.D., Ph.D.

I think that under ‘ “some” purposes’ we can put down ‘work’, as in office work or what some call ‘knowledge work’.

I am making the assumption here that you are talking about more ubiquitous gadgets will take over when you mention ‘limited devices’. Please correct me if I am off base.

When will we ever be able to usefully do our office work exclusively on small devices?

Smart phones and such devices are truly useful for being productive when are out of the office, but we evolved over millions of years on the great savannas, where our work environment was very rich and inclusive. Even a massive flat panel display today doesn’t get close to giving us an environment where we can use our abilities to draw on our hard wired almost automatic faculties for processing rich environmental data.

We have been reduced to working with little screens and though tinier ones will be useful for those out out-of-the-office settings, I feel that we will also be developing larger, even more general purpose machines for doing our day jobs with.

At least I hope so, I am just a software guy kind of intimidated by the hardware world.

Frode Hegland
The Hyperwords Company

Losing the war(s)

Historians may look back at this week and see a bigger picture. All I can see is that the same week the Israel lost the war on Hizbollah, we lost the war on terror by surrendering our value and become an officially segregated country. Times Headline, August 15th, 2006: “Muslims face extra checks in new travel crackdown”.

Wired 2.

The I discovered their cover story was an ad! How far they have fallen. Is Chris too busy selling his book to do some original editorial work?. I sent this:

Sorry about my last letter on the first demo of the mouse. I just realized that your cover story is a paid advertisement for Geek Squad. I apologize and should maybe get in touch with them for editorial comments.


Wired 1

As sent to Wired earlier today:

In your August 2006 issue you feature a timeline of computer and technology development where the 1973 XEROX Alto is credited with being the first computer with a mouse.

You know that this is not the case right? I hope this was just sloppy editing. Or an intern who thinks computers started with the PlayStation. Wired used to be cool, cutting edge and insightful. Now it’s boring, filled with How-To’s and full of press releases. Come on guys, you are not Wallpaper for gadgets. Or maybe you are.

In 1968, at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco, right round the corner from you guys, maybe 20  ins walk, Doug Engelbart gave “The Mother of All Demos”.

This is where he showed NLS to the world. In a 90-minute multimedia presentation, Doug used NLS to outline and illustrate his points, while others of his staff linked in from his lab at SRI to demonstrate key features of the system.

This was the world debut of the mouse, hypermedia (what we would later call word processing), and on-screen video teleconferencing. And more.

You can see the video here:

Read more about it here:

And revisit your own article on him here:

Later people from his lab would go to work for XEROX PARC.

And his work continues with our joint project at but I guess I blew any chance of you looking at that with my tirade in the intro here. (BTW: nice article on the $100 laptop!)

To foil plots like these.

As posted on IP:
On 10 Aug 2006, at 14:32, David Farber wrote:

And so the question:  To foil plots like these, what would IPers do?

For me, the short answers would be: Kill a lot less people.

The long answer would begin by asking the question again, in a broader setting: What is the goal here, go hunt/arrest/kill ‘terrorists’ or to create a less dangerous world?

If the latter is the goal, then it is not very useful to simply ask a group of people to change. In this case the group of people are terrorists or those thinking of becoming terrorists. I’ll go out on a limb (and if I am right, the world has just become an even more dangerous and complicated place) and talk of these potential terrorists as radicalized, militant, jihadist Muslims.

There are calls to simply fight them. Which will inevitably spawn more.

There are also calls for the radical Muslim world to change and integrate into the modern world. This is a call for them to – to put it in different terms – evolve.

How does evolution happen? Evolution is about fitness to environment. When the environment changes, the organism/organization/what-have-you needs to change if the environment is sufficiently disruptive to the kind of existence perviously led.

OK, simplified and I guess somewhat distorted, but I am trying to highlight the need for the external environment to be conducive to change.

What would happen if American and UK foreign policies changed to be more inclusive to the needs of the Muslim world? What would happen to the (and there will always be a few of them, on any side of religion) clerics and their hate-the-west and the modern-world message? Many people would simply not buy their hate anymore, they would choose to buy a better life for themselves and their families.

As is stands now, hundreds killed in Lebanon, thousands killed in Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands killed in Iraq. How can we expect that some won’t get angry and listen to the (selfish, evil, myopic, power-mad) voices of some of those around them who suggest a way to ‘get back at’ the west?

Of course it will happen, of course some people will get angry, of course some people will want, even in a general sense, to extract revenge.

Our job is to find the fine line between taking out much of the desire for someone to ‘get back at’ the west, while actively hunting down those who will attack us no matter what (yes, there are people like that, who will attack us no matter what) and deal with them like what they are: criminals.

Finding this line, though continuos dialog, like the one you started today Mr. Bray, is maybe the defining argument of what it means to be free in the beginning of the 21t century: freedom from oppression and freedom from being oppressing.

BTW, I live in the flightpath to Heathrow, so this is not theoretical for me.

Accessible Power. Yet Unobtrusive.

This is the problem we are dealing with with Hyperwords: How can the interaction be accessible (there when you want it) without being obtrusive (not there when you don’t want it?

The simplest way to use Hyperwords is to have the menu come up when you select any text, and this is the default behavior.

However, some users select text without wanting the menu to come up, so they find it obtrusive.

We have an ‘Invisible Mode’ which is very cool. But people forget that the menu is there.

This is the most crucial issue we are dealing with now. One idea is to have a little ‘thing’ come up when you select text and then you click on that or hit ‘enter’. I have written on this before, but this time we are tying to make it real. More later.

Marketing Hyperwords

To me it is obvious why why Hyperwords is useful; it lets me navigate the web as I see fit, without being constrained by links.

However, many people just look at me, quite confused why I would want to use anything other than links. Then I read this:


“Several weeks’ back I took a one-night Digital SLR class, and at the beginning the teacher asked us each to say why we were there. All 18 of us said the same thing, one after the other: “I know I have an SLR that can do so many things, but I’m still stuck in “P”–Program Mode–and I don’t know how to use anything else.” In other words, we were all using our pricey bazillion-megapixel cameras like point-and-shoot disposables. Here we are with all this power and flexibility, and we can’t get past AUTOMATIC. Why? It’s tempting to just write it off as a usability flaw. But that’s not the case with my camera–the Nikon D200 is dead easy to adjust. For most of us, the problem was NOT that we couldn’t learn how to use anything but automatic “P” mode. The problem was that we didn’t know why or when to use anything else.

So this is what I think we need to focus on communicating: Why anyone would want to use Hyperwords.

Apple & Beautiful women.

Sometimes girls wonder how men can look at a beautiful woman even if he knows she is not very nice. The girls argue it’s the whole package we should look at.

Well, it’s like the products Apple makes and the company.

The products are great, and with the next OS next year, insanely great.

But the company is just not that pleasant. When I worked on the documentary on Doug Engelbart, I talked with an Apple VP about providing a few large monitors for Doug’s 80th. Yes was the reply. The week before the even, he stopped answering his phone. Same with the other I connected with through another friend. Lousy.

I had problems with my laptop a few weeks ago. I had to resort to name-dropping to get anything done.

Today I visited the Apple store on regent street in London after signing up on the Apple site last night (you can only sign up on the day unless you are an Apple Care Pro customer). I sit wand wait. Time passes. Two other people next to me wonder as well. We ask. Turns out we have to register. According to the rude man behind the counter, it’s the same as going to a surgery! When I do get help, even with Apple Care, I have to leave the machine with them for 10 days for the 5 minute operation. Do they not undestand we use these machines for work? Only with the additional Apple Care Pro would they speed it up. Sleazy.

However, like millions of others, I’ll continue to gawk at their beautiful products.