Uses of Xanadu

by Jack Seay - April 3, 20006


How often do you have an item on your schedule that you need to rollover to the next day, automatically until you get it marked as completed? Xanadu's transclusion ability could make this easier. Each day you could just have see-thru portions of that day's tasks that look at parts of a master list of things to do.

Web page editor and printing program

If you have tried to edit a constantly changing web page like I have done, you know how difficult naming all the versions can be in a way that makes sense, and what havoc re-naming files can make. And if part of a web page needs to be reformatted for a brochure to be printed at a commercial printing company, the complexity goes up geometrically. The images have to be CMYK Tiffs instead of RGB jpegs and gifs. You may need to have different margin settings for your home ink jet than for the web press. And getting everything set to the exacting specifications of the press can be a nightmare. The images have to be 300 dpi instead of the 72 dpi you use for the web pages. And if the text needs to be rearranged or prices changed, you have to make those changes in all the formats of the document. Xanadu could make all this easier because it separates content from format, allowing changing the text in one document and the changes automatically applying to all the formats: web page, various printers, emails, blogs, magazine articles, etc.

A new kind of web page editor is needed anyway. This may seem a very strange application for Xanadu. But there will be a long transition phase, considering the number of web pages out there. And many people, expecially businesses, may be reluctant to make the transition until Xanadu really proves itself. Consider the way web page editors are not geared to the needs of writers, but to the bizarre requirements and expectations of HTML. Why can't you get a space when you type a space, instead of being forced to remember some strange key combination or menu choice to get more than one space? And why does the curser always go down two lines when you press the Enter key? And why doesn't the Tab key give you a tab? These seem so completely obvious that they shouldn't need to be pointed out to the companies who design web page editors, but they never seem to understand the needs of real writers.

Enhanced Google Earth

I just recently used this program for the first time, and it really blows me away. But I read about something very similar in Mirror Worlds, published in 1991, by David Gelernter. I believe that Xanadu could provide some very useful features that could be merged into Google Earth, and you could have the mind-boggling things described by Gelernter in Mirror Worlds.

Excerpts from a chat with Kipp Patton

Jack: hi Kipp, just writing a new article for tonight
Kipp: my sister and i was talking about something the other day
Kipp: i'd like to be a geologist
Kipp: yes, i believe i would
Jack: cool, that would be neat to add a lot of geology features to Google Earth
Jack: a database of the geology of the Earth to explore from the Google Earth interface
Kipp: oh, i could do that?
Jack: and the moon and Mars and undersea too
Jack : Google could do that
Kipp: wOw
Jack: I have seen a website of many layers of data that can be overlayed onto a map, G. E. has some of that
Kipp: i could probly write about geology too, when i know enough
Jack: yes, you could zoom in even farther to see photos and movies of digs
Kipp: didn't know i could do that
Jack: G. E. has buildings you can turn on, try it on NYC and Chicago
Jack: they could make them look like SL and let you go inside and go shopping and really buy things
Kipp: rofl
Kipp: Don't make me start day dreaming now
Jack: I think about stuff like this all the time at work
Jack: I think Google is going to add a lot of features to G. E., especially shopping, that's why they are giving away a program that used to cost $600

Jack: I like everything to be editable, which is one of the reasons I like Xanadu so much
Kipp: im figuring that out
Jack: yes, it drives me nuts to buy a book online in PDF format that is all locked up and doesn't let me do anything but read it
Jack: like that book I bought recently about arcologies
Kipp: what is arcologies?
Kipp: i forget
Jack: if I didn't want to read it so much, I wouldn't have got it, but it really upsets me that I can't even have my computer read it out loud to me
Jack: a city in a building
Jack: that's something I wrote about them
Kipp: I think Arcologies would be neat
Jack: here's some pictures of a model I built
Jack: yes, I want to live in one, first in SL, then in RL
Jack: as far as I know that is still up in the air in SL, but I haven't been to it in months