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Why Support The Author Project



When will text be valued not just for its historical importance,
but also for it's future potential?




Executive Summary


Author is a project to build an advanced word processor to take advantage of the unique interaction opportunities of digital text in order to:


Support Students (phase 1)


  • Enhance the students ability to research, think, edit and to cite sources quickly, accurately and clearly in order to make credible arguments.
  • In addition to the technologies available in Author now, we are building a new and powerful view of the text, what we call a Liquid | View, which is close to a Mind/Concept Map, but which will allow you to toggle back to full text view at any time, which will allow the student to generate powerful new insights: Liquid | View


Support Teachers (phase 2)


  • Reduce teachers clerical work through Analysis Modules on Import (auto check for plagiarism, writing level, word count etc. and generate a summary - all of which allows the teacher to choose to open the document or to click to send an automatic reply to the student's about the issues, saving a huge amount of time).
  • Increase the teachers ability to really understand the student's intentions


Reading and writing is fundamental to knowledge work and therefore reading and writing more effectively by building more powerful tools can make us more effective at doing our work - to a powerful degree. In most fields of human endeavour it’s not controversial that better tools means better performance but for many it’s difficult to really ’see’ the words they are reading and to question how we can better interact with them, it's hard to ‘see’ the text for the meaning yet we urgently need to improve how we can indeed interact with meaning through the text.


Once students and teachers are augmented, wider user groups can be introduced.




The Goal & Payoff : A Deeper Literacy


The goal of building ever more powerful interactive text environments will be to allow for - and to nurture - a deeper literacy. In the same way that a crafts person or athlete can become ever better at doing their work, so should the knowledge worker: The knowledge worker should be able to instantly see the text from any perspective, compare and contrast, look anything up, share and comment, discuss, review and analyse - all with the power of the augmented mind - all while continuously improving these interactions.


More richly interactive text will allow us to interact with our knowledge and each other in deeper ways, because the written word is a fundamental unit of knowledge and the richer we can interact with the written word, the richer we can interact with each other.


Please visit for more on this if you are interested in this perspective.




A payoff of more efficient document writing and reading/marking will also result in more time for student-teacher interaction face-to-face





A brief definition: By ‘text’ I here mean symbols including the alphabets and punctuation, layout and fonts, which can be interpreted as sounds (phonetic) or symbolic meanings (such as reading a word you understand the meaning of because of the context, but you may not understand how to pronounce it). I do not mean ’text’ in the larger meaning of a text by the literary theory definition of any object that can be “read”. I do look to the root of the word ’text’ as something woven, a texture - as an important touchstone as to the evolution of text and as to it’s potential futures.


Imagine going back to living and working in a pre-literate world, but keeping all the technology - all the amazing cameras and drawing tools. Imagine how hard it would be to communicate anything beyond the most visibly obvious - how you’d communicate ideas and perspectives, thoughts and insights. You’d have a great photograph and high resolution video but no way to annotate it, no way to elaborate, no way to explain. Think about how hard it would be to get work done in that situation - just picture trying to read this document without text. It’s not so hard to appreciate the tremendous power the written word has given us when we imagine a world without it.


So let’s appreciate text on paper - printed books certainly aren’t going to go away any time soon.


Socrates pointed out to his aristocratic friend Phaedrus meaning (“bright”) that while writing increased our faculty to record knowledge, it diminished our ability to interact with the knowledge. This is a valid concern for text on a ‘dead‘ substrate, like papyrus or paper, but it is something an ‘interactive’ digital substrate can go some way towards rectifying - and this is hinting to the intense potential power of digital, interactive text.


So while we appreciate the power of text on paper, let’s also appreciate the implications of text in the electronic media in which we now do all our knowledge work. There are rich, deep and powerful interactions computers can bring to the written word.




What Supporting The Author Project Entails


Supporting the project can best be done through financial donations since programming is too expensive for me to continue paying for on my own. Please note that support for Author pays for the programming and nothing else. Exactly how this will be done has not yet been decided and your feedback as to the best way and registration of interest would be would be much appreciated.


  • Liquid | View implementation is the initial primary focus
  • The High Performance Text Manipulation ‘Libraries’.  This is an initiative to put into code and Open Source highly advanced text interaction libraries, so that anyone can add them to their projects. This includes text summarisation and the ability to do smart keyword searches in a document
  • The Advanced Open Document Format to allow rich text documents to be shared between different applications
  • High-Temporal-Resolution Addressing of Time Based Media and efforts to increase the use and power of digital citations, as per the Time Browser initiative.




What is In It for You


Supporting Author means supporting the future of deep literacy with a potential payoff for everyone who reads and writes.


You will also be credited on the website and in the Author 'About' section for all releases, with full logos, if supporting through a company or organization.




Development & Distribution Notes


All code will be documented and Open Sourced and Author will be sold in the Apple App Store, with all earnings going back into development.






Author will be developed in collaboration with the following:


  • Vint Cerf, co-inventor of the internet, Internet Evangelist at Google Inc. is principal supporter, having invested in Author and the preceding Liquid | Flow projects and co-hosted The Future of Text for a long time
  • Jesse Grosjean, developer of WriteRoom and TaskPaper who is providing core code and document format schemas
  • Craig Tashman, creator of Liquidtext is contributing to the High Performance Text Manipulation ‘Libraries’ aspect
  • Brian Johnsrud, PhD, Co-Director of the Poetic Media Lab, Stanford University will be an early advisor




Augmenting Human Intellect


This work is very much inspired by my friend and mentor Doug Engelbart's Augment (hence the name Author, which has the same root). If you are not familiar with his work, I would like to suggest you see the brief web-documentary we made together:


Chief among Doug's work which is not in widespread use which Author will work to implement is high resolution addressing and a rich command-set for advanced users.


Read his astounding document from 1962 here: and see the scanned version here:




Further Influences


Author is also strongly influenced by the work of Vannevar Bush and his Memex, Ted Nelson’s Xanadu and general writings and Wendy Hall’s Microcosm.


  • Memex : Notions of navigation and trails
  • Xanadu : Notion of freedom for author and reader
  • Microcosm : Dynamic linking of information based on content, context and metadata, active agents and notions of separate link layers




Who I am


I am currently on a full-time, scholarship-funded PhD program in Computer Science at The University of Southampton under Dame Wendy Hall and Les Carr, with the research proposal “Augmenting Intellectual Freedom of Movement through Richly Interactive Text and Citations” of whcih Author is an important part.


I also host the annual Future of Text Symposium which has been running since 2011. For lists of panellists and recorded talks, please visit the site.


I developed the Liquid | Flow software, which received these reviews: MacUser: Revolutionary. 5/5 Mice.  Macworld UK: Liquid is highly recommended. Mashable: Liquid upgrades your entire OS X system into a seamless work machine. MEVVY: Increase productivity and improve your workflow. TUAW: One of those utilities that you can’t live without once you start using it. Softpedia: 4/5 stars. The Next Web: Lets you find amazing context to every word on the internet. Cult Of Mac: Liquid helps information flow smoothly. LifeHacker: Speeds up transferring text between apps, searching, translating, and more. BBC: So useful you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it. CNN: A great tool. Wired: Information wants to be Liquid.


I was a teacher at London College of Communication and plan to return to teaching after completing my PhD as well as continuing to build interactive text systems.



Frode Hegland

my CV:

email me at:




Lastly, Video Presentations


A walkthrough of Author macOS:




I presented Author At The Future of Text Symposium @ Google HQ 2016, as part of a call for supporting and nurturing ever deeper literacies: The Author presentation starts at 1:45 mins into this session:



(direct URL to the correct time: )






Thank you for looking at Author!