The Power of Text

Manipulating words seemed like the obvious place to start because it was a way to manipulate your ideas. - Engelbart

Text is one of the essential media. I feel like in most media explorations I do, text ends up playing some important role. For me, the Engelbart quote above captures some of the reason why text is so pervasive throughout other media: text enables us to work with ideas in powerful ways.

But, how do we really unlock the power that text has. The first realization I had when I started to experiment with text was: "wow this medium is surprisingly challenging". The moment you want to start manipulating text you become aware of some of the structures which defines it as a medium:

  • the ordering of ideas matters
  • the ability reorganize matters

Text Interfaces on the Internet

Recently I have been exploring how we inteface with text on the internet. 95% of the internet content, except for the various input fields, does not afford rich text editing.

The browser offers very weak interface with text. The majority of textual webcontent is made to appear static. The text we see on the internet does not allow us to place a caret (the vertical cursor we find in input fields or text editors) or to change its appearance with highlights or underlining.

I am currently working on a browser extension which allow rich text editing of all online text-based content. The first feature I am trying to add is multi-caret selection:

a gif animation showing multiple cursors selecting text

Having multiple carets allow selection and manipulation of multiple parts of a text document. Coupled with good pattern matching enables a plethora of actions such as data formating, effective selective text copying, and rapid soritng of ideas and concepts.

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