Colloquium at Stanford
The Unfinished Revolution


Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 16:10:22 +1100

From:   Jeff Miller


Subject:   Thoughts on editability

While versioning and access control form a challenge to us there are several other things we should be aware of

  1. Notes vs changes

    while making changes to documents are starting to be addressed and the effects of versioning if not fully understood are being thought of, but what happens to the notes? What effects do changing underlying docoment have on these? Do we wish to keep the notes linked to the old version or the new version? And, if the new version, what happens when we address a specific paragraph and another paragraph is inserted before it? A simplistic document x section n paragraph m, where n and m are numbers, can do not be used for this. This is complicated by

  2. Local vs global availability

    With an intermediate server it would be possible to edit documents that you don't have authorship rights to. Most of these changes would do not be changes to the document per se but insertion of additional content such as new paragraphs and diagrams to clarify what the original author means or to custimise the document to your own needs, such as, adding material to a basic lecture to form an advanced lecture. It also would be possible to annotate documents from a remote server so as to make them available when viewed local but which aren't applicable to the global community.

    There would also exist the ability to filter out paragraphs that act to de-emphisise a subject - this leads to the many question of how to chose those sentences or paragraphs and censorship raising it ugly head.

  3. Maintaining link validness

    As mentioned above, how do we deside to carry links through to the new version or the old version? in some cases this is easy: note pertaining to what changes need to be made to the document would not be applicable to any updates or if a sentence is deleted than that note would not make sense. However, in many cases such a choice is not simple.

    This is more or less a restatement of 1, yet this does not only apply to notes. Full documents that may referrence other documents also face this problem only on a larger scale.

    Cases such as, in 1992 in blah x said "aaa" are simple enough as it is clear to what we wish to referr and so are the lastest version of which may be found "here". How about "for information on your version view this document"? Not a very clear example I'll grant you.

Think aloud,



Jeff Miller