Projects / textbender

textbender

Textbender is a system of collaborative writing based on recombinant text. It implements a social Web medium with potential applications ranging from open art to open democracy. The underlying mechanism is evolutionary genetics: the text exists as a population of variants, one per author; authors swap fragments and arrangements of the text, peer to peer; and genes encode a traceable record of authorship throughout. Initial development is aimed at creative works, particularly at short verse and prose.

Tags
Licenses
Operating Systems
Implementation

Recent releases

  •  28 Aug 2007 02:29

    Release Notes: Designs for an open legislative system and an open electoral system were sketched. A design for "recombinant brainstorming" was sketched.

    •  24 Jul 2007 19:06

      Release Notes: The project was effectively opened up. It now has a contributors page, a discussion group, a Mercurial repository, and generally improved documentation.

      •  27 May 2007 04:57

        Release Notes: A clipboard transfer facility was added to the kit. This completes the functional core of textbender, bringing it to alpha.

        •  04 May 2007 17:58

          Release Notes: A 'reload' action was added to the page daemon, as well as other file synchronizations. Together, they allow the browser to function in tandem with a text editor. A description of editing procedures was added to the demo walk-through.

          •  28 Apr 2007 08:05

            Release Notes: The genetic encoder was improved. It now detects duplicate genes that arise from manual editing, and corrects them. The user applet was moved to the top edge of the browser window, where it now functions as a floating toolbar.

            Recent comments

            30 Aug 2007 11:17 mcallan

            Re: Recombinant text?


            > ... something like, "The

            > purpose of recombining text in the

            > context of this project is to produce

            > new, synthetic works - in a textual

            > medium - from the original works of

            > multiple authors." How's that? ...

            That's interesting, authors *could* do that.

            In biological terms, it might be called 'speciation by hybridization'.

            Two (or more) unrelated texts are brought together and recombined

            to produce a new text. The 'hybrid' would then evolve on its own,

            as a new 'species' of text (if it were 'viable').

            But I believe that authors will use it *more* for the same purposes as a Wiki:

            to share information while working together to create a new text from scratch,

            or to modify an old one incrementally. My understanding of an author's view of it

            (for creative literature, at least) is:

            http://zelea.com/project/textbender/d/benefits.xht

            > ... Was this inspired by aspects of

            > software development tools? Some of the

            > use cases, like changing a character's

            > name, seem to be directly equivalent to

            > code refactoring tools.

            Yes, partly, but only after the fact.

            The original inspiration probably came from my background

            in distributed control systems, and in biology.

            At the time, I was trying to solve a specific problem in collaborative writing:

            how to allow writers to retain a sense of *ownership* over a text;

            the same sense of ownership they get when working solo.

            I was compiling a new dictionary, and I wanted others to help,

            but I was worried they would not contribute;

            I was worried they would view it as mostly *my* dictionary, and under my control.

            But software development tools did have an effect, later.

            I began doing a lot of open source work.

            I saw that open source development has strong parallels in collaborative writing.

            As well, I began to use distributed revision control systems.

            And I saw strong parallels there, too.

            In distributed RCS, we swap patches or change-sets back and forth;

            in recombinant text, we swap genes and gene complexes.

            29 Aug 2007 23:09 lochmonster

            Re: Recombinant text?


            > Hopefully it's less obscure...

            >

            Taking a quick look at a few things on your site, I think that the answer to my initial question is something like, "The purpose of recombining text in the context of this project is to produce new, synthetic works - in a textual medium - from the original works of multiple authors." How's that? It seems like your plan is to fit the textual works into a genetic-heredity-inspired technical framework and produce tools for analysing related works and automatically modifying those works with rules / controls based upon their heredity.

            It certainly seems like interesting stuff. Was this inspired by aspects of software development tools? Some of the use cases, like changing a character's name, seem to be directly equivalent to code refactoring tools.

            09 Feb 2007 14:55 mcallan

            Re: Recombinant text?
            None of which changes the fact that you're right, on second thought. So I've added some blurbs to the home page. Hopefully it's less obscure...

            08 Feb 2007 15:10 mcallan

            Re: Recombinant text?


            What's the purpose of recombinant text?
            It depends on whether you're a biologist, an engineer, or an artist.
            You're an engineer, you sound practical... :)


            In practical terms, the purpose at this stage is experimental.
            It's unlike some projects, because the domain is new (in the sense of unknown).
            Key parts of the machinery aren't running yet.
            The latest proposed design is several months from beta.
            And no users, of course. The users will be artists.


            That's too many unknowns to cover with words and visions.
            So the plan is to code the tools,
            put them in front of artists, and see what happens. (!)
            Then to come back, show stuff to engineers,
            and ask for their help with the code.


            Till then, maybe the best practical overview (a little out of date)
            is the intro to the page "Simplex-Wide Recombinant Text,"
            at http://zelea.com/project/textbender/d/. (?)

            08 Feb 2007 11:19 lochmonster

            Recombinant text?
            You need to get a bit more descriptive here. Like, for what purpose are you recombining text? But I forgive you, you're an artist. ;^)

            Screenshot

            Project Spotlight

            OpenStack4j

            A Fluent OpenStack client API for Java.

            Screenshot

            Project Spotlight

            TurnKey TWiki Appliance

            A TWiki appliance that is easy to use and lightweight.