Re: Friday

Today, Frode Hegland officially confirmed the first meeting of the Future of Text Institute on the 2018-08-24. With that I received a mail from him, to which I was asked to reply, so I try to do it here.

The meeting will introduce the “jrnl” software project, an attempt to make a more Engelbartian blog system, likely the first major topic for the FTI. As it became possible to study Douglas Engelbart’s ARC Journal in more detail, it looks like NLS and Journal are quite distinct and relatively independent from each other, which allows for both to be investigated and recreated as a capability separately. If we would want to start to build a pretty Engelbartian Journal system, that isn’t too difficult any more because Doug didn’t do too difficult things 50 years ago in terms of the (initial) ARC Journal.

The project name “jrnl”, is that a generic work title or supposed to be the name for a specific result/product, how many different jrnl implementations will be permitted, what about variants that don’t comply with the official list of requirements that such a system should fulfill (and be it on the level of profiles), is it a trademark and who owns it? One option would be to just build prototypes/experiments until they evolve into something useful, under a loose, vague working title, as the details what the name means will remain questionable for some time anyway.

Frode asked for specific suggestions and criteria. While there are always plenty of things to suggest (won’t that be an important work of the FTI, to discuss all the things in detail?), I would like to put one initial criterion forward: the demand that all software and content must be libre-licensed, namely GNU Affero General Public License 3 + any later version of the license for software (context) and maybe for content as well, with the additional option to also license content under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (context) as this will kill it for most people right there, but without such an agreement, we can never arrive at the common infrastructure and universal library, it would conflict with the very nature of digital and therefore not worth it, why waste valuable, rare, precious lifetime for another effort based on a terribly obsolete model? Now, an institute can have many departments, but proprietary, restricted stuff won’t go on in mine as it’s by far the most significant reason for the informational and cultural misery we’re in for more than a century already, and an attempt to improve it must never fall back into the mechanics that only apply to physical scarcity. If we fail to see the vision of a truly digital future, I would wonder what we’re even doing here.

Another question was if I think that this endeavor is fundable. I’m convinced that nothing related to text is fundable in 2018, people even refuse gratis contributions and the very own field hardly could care less. Furthermore, if there would be money, that would lead to even larger problems.

The e-mail included a reference to the Journal project page with things on it I like and others I’m just going to ignore, like “linking into e-books” or “rich PDF”. It’s beyond me how those notions can even exist after all that happened in those spaces. Anyhow, the FTI project moves towards a good general direction, it hopefully might gain some constructive traction on the Friday 24th call.

Copyright (C) 2018 Stephan Kreutzer. This text is licensed under the GNU Affero General Public License 3 + any later version and/or under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International.

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