27 Dec 2005
As I am still wondering what I could do as a bachelor thesis, I'll go ahead and try to formalize any idea coming to my head.
A friend of mine is a writer. He is working creatively with ideas. He collects those ideas in a little notebook. Now, he asked me once if I could think of a good and easy way to
  1. collect all those ideas and
  2. make it possible to assert connections between them in an easy way
Point 1 is no problem: make up a webpage or some MS Access application or whatever. Point 2 is where it gets interesting: He would like to go over his ideas and link two of them together, say some interesting character he once thought of, like a street musician with an ape, and maybe a scene he thought of on another day, like a car chase in Moscow (no wait, James Bond already did that with tanks...). Anyway, maybe he comes up why that person would be really cool together with that scene. He wants to link them quickly and maybe even write a sentence why he did what he did.

That's an interesting problem that not only creative people have. Think of police officers going over a lot of details of a case. Links between details are essential. The problem today is not to see that, but to come up with a human-friendly implementation that comes close to how humans like to associate. If they get interrupted in their associating process because the system is lame or flawed somehow else, they might lose that precious train of thoughts.

Now, my current idea would be this: Make a firefox extension out of it. You get all the browsing stuff for free that made up all the information growth of the last years. Loads of content, tons of users, platform independence and so on... A lot of the information is already structured, too - more and more people are going for XHTML now (and who wants to use associating might be convincable if he is not already doing XHTML).
Let's just end up with my short train of thoughts:
If I take into account that a lot of interesting things have been implemented already, there might be not too much work left. I would use firefox extensions like:
  • Content Holder - display content in another pane so you can compare two content areas (I also tried out Split Screen, but it doesn't seem to work on FF 1.5 yet)
  • Mouse Gestures - draw lines on the screen with the mouse. That'd be used to connect chunks of content to each other.
With a lot of technical things already there and loved by thousands of users, we'd be left with some work, but with more time for interesting questions like
  • What are the semantic structures the user would need? And how would the XHTML chunks be addressed?
  • How can the user view and reuse his associations?
  • How should we model the processes that a human makes when associating concepts?
# lastedited 27 Dec 2005
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