Twisted Systems, Inc.
245 Waterman Street, Suite 309
Providence, RI 02906
401 528 1145

Date: Thu, 1 Nov 2001 16:49:37 -0500

Mr. Rod Welch
The Welch Company
440 Davis Court #1602
San Francisco, CA 94111 2496

Subject:   Re your phone call


I got your phone message and would be glad to set up a time to talk. I think it would be good to include my co-founder, Greg Lloyd in the conversation. Let's plan a time next week when we can talk. What's your schedule like?

Best Regards,



Copy to:


Post Script

here are a few Traction references we might use as a jumping off point for a demo.

Active Traction discussion in Engelbart Forum
Traction17129: 1 Nov 2001, 12:55 PM (updated by cjn)

Rod Welch left me a voicemail the other night, curious about Traction. I'm sending him a reply suggesting that it would be good to talk with both Greg and I. Here's the current thread...

Traction photo meeting at SRI 000413

Armstrong Consulting
1200 Dale Avenue #100
Mountain View, CA 94040

Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2001 13:23:44 -0800

From:   Eric Armstrong


Subject:   Lucid Thinking about Traction Work Product

Rod Welch wrote [on October 31, 2001...]

Still not sure on Traction. Your letter does not seem to say anything about work product.

I have no idea where it can be found at this point. There is a pointer to it somewhere in the archive. I may have captured it in the links-page I kept re-posting long ago, but I'm not sure.


Armstrong Consulting

Eric Armstrong


sample - this is interesting ... seems new! [tim - 1 Nov 2001 - 1:27 PM]

Armstrong Consulting
1200 Dale Avenue #100
Mountain View, CA 94040

Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2001 11:41:12 -0800

From:   Eric Armstrong


Subject:   Lucid Thinking

Hi, Rod.

Black Belt testing is in a couple of weeks, on Friday, Nov 16th. The news cameras will probably be there, so you may catch highlights on the late-night news.

The Traction interface was great with respect to categories. The were hierachical, you could change them, and it kept an audit trail of changes.

However, the software was never made available, as far as I know. Their comment with regard to open sourcing it was that, if they did, it would "constitute the greatest act of charity in the history of software development". That's a bit of an overstatement, I'm sure, but I understand the feeling.


I'm sure I never said it quite that strongly, but I love Eric's "quote" [cjn - 1 Nov 2001 - 1:37 PM] 1:27 PM]

Personally, I think that the information on the web is free, but you still buy a computer so you can access it. So even if knowledge is available for use, I see no harm in people purchasing the platform with which to avail themselves of it.

On the contrary, I see that the opportunity to make money by providing better access and production mechansims can only contribute to the spread of the technology, and hasten the development of a knowledge-interchange standard.

(The way I see things, some knowledge will still be secure. So the intelligence community would let knowledge in, but not let knowledge leak out. Similary for various other sensitive communitites.)

Given the potential for making a living to attract developers, the potential to make a profit to attract people with business sense, and the potential for security to attract significant purchasers in government and industry, I can see a huge potential upside.

Or we can insist on open source. So far, that has been our choice. Two years later, I don't see that we have gotten very much further down the road as a result of that choice. Nevertheless, it remains our choice.


Armstrong Consulting

Eric Armstrong

440 Davis Court #1602
San Francisco, CA 94111-2496
415 781 5700

Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2001 00:17:09 -0800

04 00067 61 01103101

Unfinished Revolution
OHS DKR Project
SRI International
333 Ravenswood Avenue
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Subject:   Traction Mentioned as Part of Solution
Lucid Thinking


First, what's the story on your black belt event? Are we going to see you in the Olympics in 2004?

In your letter on September 25, 2001 see below, you say Traction had the right interface for assigning and displaying categories, plus mechanisms for audit trails and other important functions. This aligns with Traction's presentation at SRI on April 13, 2000, where the representative, Chris, demonstrated these features.

If memory serves, we heard that the staff uses the program for daily work designing, producing and marketing Traction, however, Chris explained there wasn't enough time during the meeting at SRI to show any work product.

Later on April 14, 2000 I believe a letter came over the transom from you recommending the OHS/DKR team use Traction because it is the "closest thing to a complete OHS with hints of DKR-ness."

Is there any work product showing this capability, for example to assign categories, follow an audit trail on something? We got a few letters from Chris following up the demonstration at SRI, but there were no links to work product.

Yesterday, Eugene provided a location to see work on dialog maps, which you described in a letter on 010916. That shows how organizational memory is used to carry on the work of the OHS Launch Community. Is there a web site for Traction that shows how the meeting on 000413 was handled, or how Traction organized an email, or did work on XML, or on developing the category features you describe?


I'm sure Rod will want to talk about this; in conjunction with a demo, this could be a very interesting discussion. [cjn - 1 Nov 2001 - 1:39 PM]

In Eugene's letter on 010917 he proposes experimenting with different solutions, as he is doing with dialog maps, and Jack is doing with topic maps. What experiments have been done with Traction? Is the Traction category method as fast and easy as dialog mapping and topic maps?



Rod Welch

From From, see original source.

Also check out:

[The following listed items open a login screen to Traction resources at this location....

...and further at....

servlet/tsi.Submit?handler=auth&proj=Traction&sdate=20 011101&side=1&type=single&rec=10676&page=login&returnto=/servlet/tsi.Traction%3f proj%3dTraction%26sdate%3d20011101%26type%3dsingle%26rec%3d10676%26side%3d1%26h_ referer%3dnull&error=This%20is%20Twisted%20Systems%27%20Production%20Traction%20 server.%20If%20you%20have%20trouble%20logging%20in%20with%20the%20login%20inform ation%20that%20we%20have%20given%20you,%20please%20contact%20us%20by%20telephone %20at%20(401)%20528-1145.]

  • Traction17129: Active Traction discussion in Engelbart Forum
  • Traction12426: OHS/DKR Meeting Notes, from Eric Armstrong
  • Traction10882: Apr-13 OHS Mtg
  • Traction10758: Unrev II - Highly relevant threads
  • Traction10552: Traction for the Bootstrap Alliance!
  • Traction10795: Presentation to Doug Engelbart's OHS Group
  • Traction13858: Doug, Chris & Traction

[Appears that above may be a summary listing of following Traction resources... ]

Dynamic Knowledge Repository - and Traction
Traction10676: 5 Apr 2000, 10:24 PM (updated by grl)

Doug Engelbart posted a brief note on his meeting with cjn (Traction10552: Traction for the Bootstrap Alliance! ) to the Unfinished Revolution II eGroup. Several members visited our public home page, and Eric Armstrong published a thoughtful response, quoted below. This also led to a Traction evaluation request from Terry Yelmene via Denham Grey (Traction10617: Traction and BackLand ). Cjn will try to meet with them on 12 April.

I read and will post references to several very good and relevent threads in the eGroup (a painful process!). For starters, see Unrev II- Message 26 "Towards a DKR" by Eric Armstrong, Tue 18 Jan 2000. Eric's home page is Sign up for the eGroup yourself!

Doug Engelbart - Bootstrap Institute

Bootstrap Institute
6505 Kaiser Drive
Fremont, CA 94555

Date: 26 Mar 2000 13:44 PST

From:   Doug Engelbart
Bootstrap Institute


Subject:   Traction "Journaling System," by Twisted Systems

I was visited last Tuesday by Christopher Nuzum whom I had met at an MIT symposium (50th annivrsary of Vannevar Bush's famous publication, As We May Think) -- Chris was a product of the Brown University, Andy van Dam hypertext program.

He demonstrated the Traction System; quite impressive. Calls it a "journaling system" for keeping track of many tpes of ongoing events, thoughts, interactions, etc. Something we should learn about; functions that should be a part of everbody's future DKR workshop.

Nuzum, Chris -- cell (401) 268-9099. /,

He plans to visit our area between 9 and 15 April; Offers to present/discuss with any of our group -- or, could be at our Wed 12-Apr meeting.


Bootstrap Institute


Doug Engelbart

Colloquium at Stanford
The Unfinished Revolution

Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 16:59:06 -0800

From:   Eric Armstrong

To:     unrev-II@ONELIST.COM

Subject:   Traction "Journaling System," by Twisted Systems

Doug Engelbart - Bootstrap Institute wrote on 26 Mar 2000 13:44 PST

Christopher Nuzum....demonstrated the Traction System; quite impressive. Calls it a "journaling system" for keeping track of many tpes of ongoing events, thoughts, interactions, etc. Something we should learn about; functions that should be a part of everbody's future DKR workshop.

Nuzum, Chris -- cell (401) 268-9099. /,

He plans to visit our area between 9 and 15 April; Offers to present/discuss with any of our group -- or, could be at our Wed 12-Apr meeting.

I look forward to hearing more about this. It does look interesting.

Here is one tidbit from their site:

With Traction, you can flag paragraphs of the same entry with tags like suggestion, contact, competition and todo. With the interactive form, it's as easy as adding a color-coded Post-ItTM flag to a paper document.

This ability to "categorize" information nodes is fundamental to anything we want to do.

Two questions spring to mind:

  1. Can the same node be in multiple categories (that needs to be possible)

  2. Theirs is a server-side system, yes? So any change in categorization is seen by everyone, yes?

    1. Who gets to make those changes?

    2. In a distributed email-style system, are all such categorizations still seen by everyone? Or is there a separate "publish" step to make them visible?


Eric Armstrong

See Unrev II - Message 689

OHS/DKR Meeting Notes, from Eric Armstrong
Traction12426: 25 Aug 2000, 11:55 AM (updated by cjn)


This is my summary of the meeting I had with Doug Englebart last Thursday, on the subject of OHS design.


  • Doug Englebart
  • Eric Armstrong

Topics covered:

  • Doug presented a diagram with intermediaries translating plain text into XML and then again into HTML for display on a browser.


    cjn: This goes a little further than Traction, which takes HTML or text mail and redisplays it, without the translation to a cannonical XML representation. It is fed through an XML parser and translator to make it valid.

  • The idea is that it will siphon off standard email messages to build a better email archive.


    cjn: Part of Traction's charter, in addition to handling web pages and other documents, e.g. Word.

  • We discussed several design options for how the system might work.


  • This is the same system that was proposed several months ago. It may be viable, but I have not yet been convinced of that.

  • The concerns I had then would still seem to be valid now -- it could take a lot of time to build accomodations for legacy email systems and the like -- time that could probably be put to better use if the system were defined using newer technologies.

    For example...

    Identifying the part of a message that a user is replying to will be tricky, and will consume many man-hours. But that's trivial if the mail system is XML-based. We could be taking XML's advantages and running with them.

  • The email user will experience no benefit from using the system until they consult the archive. It remains to be seen whether that constitutes sufficient benefit to make it something that developers want to use.

  • On a process level, at SRI we started out doing use cases, then stopped that and considered defining interfaces, then stopped that and started defining an architecture. We have now stopped that and have started this new process, where the system architecure comes predefined, rather than being built up in response to the needs demonstrated by use cases and analysis.

    Basically, I don't "trust" the design, and we've changed methodological choices too often to trust the process.

  • The current proposal leaves the issue of categories entirely unaddressed -- unless we do it with "link types". But to my mind, there is a definite semantic flavor to categories (question, answer, argument for/against, todo, done, etc.) that is associated more strongly with the node. Link types have a strong syntactic flavor in my mind (citations, replyTo, attachTo (postIt), quote) -- I see those types as a syntactic mechanism the GUI can use to control how things are displayed (eg: replies shown inline, shown as links, or invisible), while the semantic categories are used more for node searching and filtering. This is a highly philosophical distinction that has not been discussed or investigated. But if my feeling is correct, using the link types for category kinds of labeling will work against a useful "separation of concerns". That could make it more difficult to create good view-control mechanisms down the line.


    cjn: I think Traction addresses these concerns comprehensively.

  • The plan is for emails to contain links into the archive. Those links would contain view-control commands, ala Augment. This notion raises several concerns:

  1. This is fundamentally Rod Welch's system, where every message contains a link to the real information. Instead of having the redundant text in my inbox, I'm going to have a link to the text the message is replying to. Yuck. I'd rather have the redundant text, thank you. I don't think I'd bother using this system very long.


    cjn: Easy enough to do a pass-through; send the mail to the archive, with a special CC line. The archive can then perform necessary XML translations, add links, render in HTML and then forward along to the people on the OHScc: (or TCC :-) list, as well as returning a recipt to the sender.

  2. The proposal puts Augment's view-control commands into a very central position, very early on. I would be more comfortable with a gui-centric approach in stage 1 that added view-control commands later. Then, I would feel sure that the system was usable without requiring the user to understand a complicated mnemonic language. (That's the kind of the thing that the developers of a system love, because its so powerful. Power users eventually come to love it, too. But normal users hate it, and can't be bothered to use it. If the system depends on using it, the system is doomed.)

  3. What I want, fundamentally, is an email system that delivers a reply to me "in context" so that it appears as part of the original message.


    cjn: This is Traction's model, and OpenText's. We are still smoothing out the interface to this.

    I would also like to be able to register the threads I'm interested in -- always seeing threads that are really new, but not being bothered with additional messages to old threads that I've already chosen to ignore.


    cjn: Traction's time dimension features really let you work this way.

    The current proposal won't give me anything like that, but will instead clutter my inbox with link-containing messages. Reconstructing an argument from a series of messages like that will be next to impossible. That will force me to consult the archive.

  4. Unlike many users, apparently, I am not a big fan of archives. In fact, I hate them. I have my own archives -- copies of the messages I care about. I search them when I need to. So a system in which the archive is the most (and possibly only) useful part of the system holds little interest for me.

  5. The other email problem that I would love to see fixed is not addressed by this proposal: searches. When I search messages in my inbox, I get a list of messages -- I then have to click each message to open the text, and do another search to find the term! Awful. Search should work like a document search (find next, always showing the term in context).


    cjn: This is Traction's search interface.

Bottom line:

Had we done the use case analysis, I would like to think that system requirements like "see reply in context", "ability to ignore threads" and "better searches" would have come out. For the use cases we did examine, the need for categories did appear, but is not addressed in reasonable fashion in this proposal, imo.


cjn: Categories are another Traction strong point!

When we built StreamLine, I was fortunate to have two strong developers who convinced me to let my preconceived notions go and let the analysis take the system where it wanted to go, rather than forcing down the path I had chosen. I wish we could do the same with the OHS. I believe it would make a difference.

   Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2000 13:44:10 -0700
   From: Eric Armstrong
   Subject: Meeting Summary: 22 Aug '00

Apr-13 OHS Mtg
Traction10882: 21 Apr 2000, 2:22 PM by cjn

Hi All, FYI the following comprises the attendees for last week's meeting at SRI:

THURSDAY, APR-13-2000 - 4:00-6:00PM

      NAME        :        COMPANY           :

      Armstrong, Eric      TreeLight

       Coppernoll, Mary     Bootstrap Institute

      Deneen, John         Astounding

      Engelbart, Doug      Bootstrap Institute

       Iverson, Lee         SRI International

      Kim, Eugene          Freelance Writer/Consultant

      Lincoln, Pat         SRI International

       Mitchell, Mark       CodeSourcery

      Nuzum, Christopher   Twisted Systems, Inc.

      Welch, Rod           The Welch Company

       Williams, Joe        Williams Publications

      Wirth, Mike          IBM/Almaden Research Ctr

      Yee, Su-Ling         SF Women on the Web

See you all on the 20th.

Best regards,



[Editors note: there is a big list of people who received this letter that is omitted in this record.]

Date: 4/17/00 3:51:47 PM

Presentation to Doug Engelbart's OHS Group
Traction10795: 14 Apr 2000, 1:34 AM (updated by cjn)

The group I presented Traction to is the one behind Doug's current Open Hyperdocument System / Dynamic Knowlege Repository initiative. Their goal is to evolve an open-source OHS/DKR system. They loved Traction. After I presented, the discussion turned to open source business models. They said that Traction was the best platform they had seen so far. The group decided that in order to get source access, they should buy Twisted Systems. Or to get one of their partners like IBM or Sun to do so.

Here are the people who attended:

Traction photo meeting at SRI 000413

Eric is familiar from the eGroups discussion. Joe is a self-described marketing guy (see marketing guy (see Rod comes from the construction industry. Su-ling has a background in East-West Psychology; she's working with Doug. Eugene is writing a book on the history of free software.

Traction photo meeting at SRI 000413

Mary is Doug's assistant. Michael is a researcher at IBM Almaden Research Center. They built WBI, IBM's Web Based Intermediary system (, on which Doug is looking at building an OHD/DKR. He suggested we look into their Clever clustering technology, ).

The guy with the ? has something to do with computers at Stanford. Also attending was a guy named Lee, an AI researcher at Stanford involved in geographical systems and someone from Software Carpentry, an open-source company along similar lines to BeOpen which does work for Los Alamos National Labs.

Doug spent about an hour and a quarter reviewing relevant aspects of NLS' architecture. Then the Software Carpentry guy presented, talking about sociological factors in open source development.

Then I demo'd Traction. I think they were pretty impressed. Eric and Michael asked about the tag space -- Michael asserted that what you really want is a bag, not just a hierarchy. Doug is really enthusiastic about Traction. But they are looking for an open-source system they can extend, and it's not clear how to reconcile that with our objectives.

After the meeting, we went for pizza. I told Doug how much I wished the rest of Twisted Systems could be there, how much his enthusiasm would be appreciated. He said, "bring them next time!"

Traction photo Doug at dinner after meeting at SRI on 000413

For background on Doug Engelbart, the Bootstrap Institute ( and his role in inspiring us to build Traction, see Traction5713: Of Mouse and Man (and its references, particularly Traction566: Three Primary Knowledge Domains - Intelligence, Dialog Records, Knowledge Product [DCE] , Traction1337: AUGMENTING HUMAN INTELLECT: A Conceptual Framework ), Traction6103: Stanford and the Silicon Valley Oral History Interviews - Douglas Engelbart , Traction4937: Douglas Engelbart: More Thoughts from Cassandra . The recorded webcast of the Dec 1998 30th Anniversary symposium (see Traction4711: Engelbart's Unfinished Revolution - Stanford Symposium ), features Doug, Andy van Dam, Ted Nelson, Alan Kay and others

For background on OHS, see Traction9757: Open Hyperdocument System (OHS) , Traction567: Open Hyperdocument System (OHS) description [DCE] . Traction568: The CODIAK Process Supported by an OHS [DCE] . Chris's talk was a followup based on Traction10552: Traction for the Bootstrap Alliance! .

For Unrev II discussion relating to DKS and Traction, see Traction10676: Dynamic Knowledge Repository - and Traction , Traction10758: Unrev II - Highly relevant threads. For Unfinished Revolution Colloquium references see Traction9757: Open Hyperdocument System (OHS) , Traction9754: How a group shows us that it is Collectively Smarter , Traction9598: Engelbart Colloquium - Gregory Lloyd registration . [grl]


Unrev II - Highly relevant threads
Traction10758: 12 Apr 2000, 2:48 PM by grl

Chris -- Many of the discussion topics in the Unrev II eGroup are very articulate and relevant to our work with Traction (see Traction10676: Dynamic Knowledge Repository - and Traction ). If your have time, please read (at least) these threads to get a flavor of the questions and items of interest for your talk and demonstration.

Message # (generally, origin of thread)

26 - Eric Armstrong 'Towards a DKR' (excellent thread)

757 - Eric on 'Knowledge Representation'

771 - Eric on 'diary model' (part of lifstreams discussion

696 - Doug on OHS-reference cross links

224 - Proposal for possible DKR application

743 - Eric on business models

See also examples leading into Journal, Rod Welch

I'll clean this up a bit later - or you may add comments, links or suggestions.



From: Gregory R. Lloyd,



Date: Wed Apr 12 14:47:58 EDT 2000

Traction for the Bootstrap Alliance!
Traction10552: 22 Mar 2000, 1:12 PM (updated by cjn)

Traction photo meeting Doug Engelbart 000321
Photo of Chris and Doug Engelbart

I met with Doug Engelbart for two hours yesterday, during which I gave him a thorough demonstration of Traction. Doug summarized, "Well this is fortuitous, I like this. I liked it, except it leaves me stimulated."

We talked extensively in the beginning about the versioning/updating model. Doug was most concerned with how we maintain stable references to an intermediate state of an entry which has been updated, and also about tagging large documents instead of many small ones.

One of his major objectives is to find a system which makes it easier to understand and compare the advantages and disadvantages of systems like Traction, at a very deep level, in order to guide the development of future systems and the choice of future prototype Dynamic Knowlege Repositories.

I told him how much we got out of his papers, and he was glad; he said that, "you'd think that nobody ever read them." See Traction5713.013: Of Mouse and Man , Traction568: The CODIAK Process Supported by an OHS [DCE]


Doug, Chris & Traction Traction13858: 6 Dec 2000, 11:57 AM by cjn (updated by grl)

Here's a photo from my last visit. It shows me & Doug Engelbart and the Traction login screen, at Doug's house. Unfortunately, lots of really good (digital) photos didn't come out due to a failing SmartMedia card.

Traction photo meeting Doug Engelbart 001206

See also: Traction5713: Of Mouse and Man , Traction1020: 50 Years After "As We May Think" , Traction13325: Doug Engelbart Audio Glossary , Traction10795: Presentation to Doug Engelbart's OHS Group , Traction1337: AUGMENTING HUMAN INTELLECT: A Conceptual Framework , Traction12106: A Conversation With Doug Engelbart , Traction6103: Stanford and the Silicon Valley Oral History Interviews - Douglas Engelbart , Traction4937: Douglas Engelbart: More Thoughts from Cassandra , Traction13858: Doug, Chris & Traction


Click here to see this view in Traction.