Conversations and documents

Sometimes you want to hang out and talk with somebody, and sometimes you want to read something. We think of these two kinds of communication as two different worlds, but we don’t think either of these worlds is more “correct” than the other.

As we well know, they actually complement each other quite well. We bring knowledge gleaned from what we have been reading into our conversations. Conversely, insights from even our most casual conversations end up infusing the writings that we publish.

In David Allan Smith’s wonderful recent article Why AR Will Win, he paints a vivid picture of what the world will be like when today’s SmartPhones are replaced by ubiquitous AR eyewear. It occurs to me that one way to describe this revolution is a coming together of conversations and documents.

This ties into my own recent experiments in creating inter-compatibility between interactive sketches in Chalktalk and interactive diagrams in Web documents — described in this blog two weeks ago. Rather than thinking of the conversation and the document as two disjoint worlds, we will be able to allow each to inform the other in a very direct and immediate way.

In even our most casual conversations we will be able to call up the sort of complex interactive information we now associate with computer-augmented documents. And this in turn will evolve the nature of on-line documents, since they will become natural extensions of our ongoing conversations.

It is difficult to foresee the exact nature of this exciting and powerful new world, which is now just around the corner. But I already know I want to be part of it, and to help make it happen.

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