Title
#linking-together
Kartik Agaram

Kartik Agaram

10/09/2022, 3:37 PM
In the early to mid-1990’s, I was composing a document and needed to find and insert some information from another program. To do this, I had to leave my text editor, search for and launch another application, browse for the information I was looking for, format it appropriately for my source needs, and then switch back to where I was in my original text editor. All of this took minutes, and more importantly, took me out of the flow of what I was writing. There had to be a better way, I thought.
As a result, I devised what I called “The Invisible Interface”. The idea was to use the computer’s clipboard as an interpretable information bus for retrieving information I wanted without ever having to leave the application, or even the very text line, I was working on. As an example, I would type something like, “Please send the package to my sister’s address”. I would then select and copy to the clipboard the phrase “my sister’s address”, hit a function key to request processing, and I would instantly hear an audio cue: “bing” if successful, “bong” if the system was not able to resolve the phrase to more specific information. If I heard a “bing”, I would hit the paste command in my editor, and it would replace the selected text “my sister’s address” with “Sara Cheyer, 123 Main St. Town, State, 91101”. I connected a myriad of databases and information sources, and could instantly and painlessly retrieve all sorts of information by a concise, direct phrase inserted in-line in the context of what I was doing: “population of South America’s largest country”, “email for my boss”, “free time on Thursday”, “flower in French”, etc.
-- Adam Cheyer, "Interpretable and Executable text", in The Future of Text (https://futuretextpublishing.com/future-of-text-2020-download)
Myles Haynes

Myles Haynes

10/09/2022, 4:04 PM
sounds kind of like what google/amazon/apple/everybody is trying to do with an “assistant”, but they have pretty bad incentives compared to what they were trying to build in this snippet
j

jamii

10/09/2022, 5:41 PM
Maybe closer to the way that andoid/ios parse text messages to look for address, phone numbers etc and attach actions to them.
Chris Knott

Chris Knott

10/09/2022, 6:46 PM
This sparked a loosely related idea. The clipboard could have worked the other way around - you "paste" into the location, then go and look for the thing to "copy" there. This would allow the computer to know the destination context during the search, which might be helpful.
Kartik Agaram

Kartik Agaram

10/09/2022, 7:27 PM
That sounds vaguely like how Plan 9 UIs work. This approach has been speaking more to me since I declared bankruptcy on the Unix terminal and wrote off all my accumulated expertise there as a sunk cost. When I switch to a canvas of pixels as a more timeless foundation I find myself building little keyboard shortcuts into the desktop environment that put things on the clipboard that I can paste into my canvas. For example I have a shortcut that copies the current timestamp into the clipboard, and another shortcut that prepends the current timestamp to clipboard contents.
Myles Haynes

Myles Haynes

10/09/2022, 7:31 PM
This approach has been speaking more to me since I declared bankruptcy on the Unix terminal and wrote off all my accumulated expertise there as a sunk cost.
Do tell
Kartik Agaram

Kartik Agaram

10/09/2022, 7:57 PM
It'll take a while, but basically there's an emergent story arc in the updates I have not been shy about sharing here over the last 4 years.
a

Andrew F

10/09/2022, 9:08 PM
Reminds me of the idea in The Humane Interface to use selections as arguments to programs. I like that approach better. I definitely don't love the idea of combining "copying" something we're never going to paste with a subsequent operation explicitly designed to work on invisible arguments with maybe-invisible results (please never make anything dependent on audio cues, btw, personally I want my computers to be absolutely silent unless I'm specifically listening to media). Increased visibility and selections are honking great ideas, let's do more of those.
9:15 PM
@Chris Knott I like this idea a lot, but not the "copy-paste" terminology attached to it 😄. I might like it even better than the Raskin/Humane Interface idea of polluting your content with command arguments (I guess that made more sense when we didn't expect version history everywhere?).
Kartik Agaram

Kartik Agaram

10/09/2022, 9:38 PM
@Myles Haynes, here's a few chronologically-ordered comments from over the years. If you focus on just the terminal-related details you see how much I'd invested up to some point before slowly letting go. http://akkartik.name/post/mu https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16882555 http://akkartik.name/archives/foc/two-minute-week/1593647953.023500.html https://lobste.rs/s/h4lnkn/what_are_you_doing_this_week#c_juxc6y https://github.com/akkartik/teliva http://akkartik.name/lines.html
After trying to restrict myself to text mode to minimize dependencies, I find immense relief in compromising some of my "principles" and adopting a portable graphical platform (https://love2d.org) with a relatively accessible build process. With Teliva in particular, I found myself following a similar thought process to Wordpress, and it's a relief to jettison 50 years of restrictions in terminal land.
-- July 20 on a different forum https://futureofcoding.slack.com/archives/C03RR0W5DGC/p1663493561498049?thread_ts=1662264559.165209&cid=C03RR0W5DGC
izuchukwu

izuchukwu

10/10/2022, 2:04 AM
@Kartik Agaram Incredible find. Did you find any other standouts from The Future of Text?
Kartik Agaram

Kartik Agaram

10/10/2022, 2:12 AM
Just started reading. I found this from.. FoC! Back in 2020! Loaded the epub up on a device and then forgot about it until now. http://akkartik.name/archives/foc/linking-together/1605905343.271500.html
izuchukwu

izuchukwu

10/10/2022, 2:13 AM
Hah, ran into the same problem reading the PDF on my phone Some things never change