e-Book for professionals

Author: Ury Smirnov. Category: Smart things. Date:28.03.2010, 20:31.

I will have described below the idea of ​​a specific device. I’m ready to pay for such one right now 50% more expensive than any electronic bookreader presented on the market today.

Informational “Moebius tape”

Unfortunately, there is no electronic bookreader today for people who are professionally dealing with information (writers, journalists, scientists, business analysts, experts in marketing, consultants, etc.) and creating informational products (business literature, textbooks, articles, market reviews, analitical reports , thematic catalogues, handbooks, training programs, etc.). This is very strange: though we are not the main buyers at the local markets, but worldwide there are millions of us who are ready to pay more for the device with Pro-rating. In addition, Pro-Readers might be interesting for more extensive category of users. They are subject specialists of different industry sectors, many of which accumulate their personal knowledge bases on a personal computers over the years. And thay would not have no objection to carry these bases, if provided in an adequate format, in their pockets.

To begin, let’s not to pay attention to promotional announcements, whith which manufacturers are misleading consumers and themselves. Well, for example: “Company X has introduced a new device for reading of electronic books, addressed to professional users. The device allows you to put bookmarks in the text, make notes and comments, to save snippets of the text, to look through drawings, to synchronize the changes to the file archive on your PC.” Alas, these devices with all their scanty improvements are not beyond the linear information management while in the real world people, creating an informational product, interacts with the information nonlinearly.

What does it mean? Suppose a professional reading a book or article and saying to himself: “this personality will be quoted in my ” A ” review, this fact will be used in my study “B”, this idea can be the matter of dispute in the article “C”, I’ll give this example at the seminar “ D”, I’ll mention this story in the book “E”, and I’ll reread this piece carefully with a fresh mind in a week, possibly new articles’ subjects would be born.” After a while he takes next book or article and once again draws from it some information, this time they would be for the projects “F”, “D”, “G”, “H” and “I”. During the week he can study dozens of sources, and will cross-use their information in a dozen current and ten future projects. And, , he does not even preview some of future projects, others will be shelved and anothers would be implemented earlier that it was planned. This is a nonlinear interaction with information. It requires non-linear tools (we’ll talk about them in two paragraphs).

Unfortunately, modern bookreaders deal with information only linearly, as if transforming an electronic library in the long-longest text tape, where pictures sometimes are interspersed. You can scroll the tape back and forth, and even jump to different fragments of it, focusing on names of files and intrafiles bookmarks. But when the moment comes to process that you have read and deliberated while sitting at a computer you find yourself alone with the same “Moebius tape” before you. For example, you need to prepare a seminar but the information collected for it is scattered in a dozen e-books and hundreds of articles. Since the marks on the topic you were doing more than one month many of them wouldn’t even be recollected now. Those you have remembered you will have to find again. One by one. And to copy information manually from source files in the seminar development file. Also one by one. Only those might not notice such a monstrous waste of time who finds “linear” Microsoft Word the perfect tool to work with information. It is really the best program of all times, but only for office documents’ formatting.

The analogue of a nonlinear approach is the library catalog, where cards are placed in a boxes, boxes are in lockers and lockers are well visible to visitors of the library. Analog of a linear approach: all the cards are placed in the books and to find information about the publication one must find the publication itself.

I have already shared in my blog examples of non-linear approach to searching and processing on a PC the information from Internet and other sources. Nothing could be simpler than to adapt this approach to electronic bookreader! Below you’ll find how it should work.

How I would like to use the multitouch technology

Imagine that you are reading the profesional subjects’ text on your bookreader. There are tabs on each side of the touch screen (like those in the browser, but vertical) with the names of your projects. You have determined the tabs in advance, but you can add a new one at any time. If there are many projects, they can be sorted by groups. A special button on the screen of bookreader allows to call groups’ list at any time, and to choose among them the necessary one. During the reading it is enough to indicate the beginning and the end of text fragment interesting for you and to drag it with an easy finger slip to a tab. In the original text this piece will remain illuminated with colored marker, and the same fragment will appear at once in the branch of your choosen project fixed by database program for storing information. And a full copy of the text- source will be saved together with a fragment in the database.

To look through notes saved and to use them in the work (for example, to quote at the seminars), you will not need other devices, except such bookreader. However, it is more comfortable to create one’s own unique informational products on the PC. It requires synchronization of the notes’ base on bookreader with notes’ base at PC. I offer a special tree-like and three-windows text editor to work with this database at a PC. The tree-like structure of notes is a popular enough approach to structuring the information, and it should be used in electronic bookreader long ago. And about three-windows’ principle I’ll say a little below.

Is the “3D-text editor possible?

If you have not worked on a PC with a tree-like text editors, I strongly recommend you to get acquainted with the best, in my opinion, representative of this class of programs – KeyNote NF (open initional codes of its predecessor are saved, by the way). As for me I do all the work with the information exclusively with this fast, powerful and smart program, and I open the OpenOffice only to convert for customers the final text in the format of of MS Word.

KeyNote NF is the program simple enough to master, but its analog for the processing of the notes from the bookreader may be even simpler. By and large, all that is needed is the possibility to change quickly the order of notes in the thematic and projects’ branches as well as to drag them between the branches and tabs using the mouse and the keyboard shortcuts. And, of course, the posibility to add notes with your own thoughts, observations, research results in a common database. The branch with notes’ titles would be in the left window, the content of the current article would be in the right one. You’ll see at a glance all your projects and the information accumulated for them. You can easily change the structure and logic of projects, combine some projects and split others. To work with the same speed and efficiency in the “linear” window of usual text editor, you should have a perfect memory. No, I’m lying: you will still lag: even if you remember, in what files needed notes are, these files still need to be opened, and notes – to be found and copied to the project file.

Treelike way of structuring information replaces the “linearity” with “two-dimensionality” but it is not enough. Two problems remain that, unfortunately, have not yet been resolved in the existing treelike editors:
1. User does not see the context from which the current note was “ejected”. Therefore, he may voluntarily or unvoluntarily “fit” his conclusion to the context of adjacent notes, ignoring the context of the source-file of this article. And it takes a long time to open and re-view each source-file in a separate program.
2. User creates the logical structure of the project branch by eye, not seeing a unit file with the notes collected in this branch, and that can lead to errors while forming the logic of the project. Of course, the tree-like editors allow to convert the branch into a separate file. But opened the file and found the deficiencies of the logical structure of the project, the user can not interactively change the order of notes in the branch. This should be made blindly and it is fraught with new bugs.

Hence the need to have the third text editor window arises which will provide the informational space with one additional dimension and allow to see the information processed volumetricly from the several points of view.

An user will be able to see in the third window at his own discretion:
a) either the full text of the note’s original source, opened in the second window (this allows him to remember quickly the context, and perhaps find in a primary source some new and interesting facts which were not paid attention by the user at the first viewing);
b)or final version of the text formed from the notes of selected branch or a group of branches (this allows to change interactively, on the fly, the structure of the target file, manipulating the informational tree in the first window). In this mode, the third window should be editable, because our goal is to create a unique author’s product, in which we will use information from other sources (with reference to them) only in the form of quotations, facts, examples, reinforcing our own arguments.

Instead of a summary

Current bookreaders are intended to read fiction and news, and if I try to incorporate them in my informational process, I have to do the double work: to copy manually facts and quotations found with help of bookreader in my projects at PC. So my money are with me, and bookreaders’ producers will have to reduce prices.

Just add a “third dimension”, gentlemen!

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