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In the first quarter of this year, it was my great privilege to work with Ted Nelson himself on some designs for the alph.js/Docuplextron software.

We discussed building a Xanadu®-branded version of the Alph client, and decided, as an initial collaborative experiment, to try simply to turn the existing software into a great "flying" text editor.

Ted has described in various media the way that the terms "cut" and "paste" were perverted at Xerox – how words that once described the tactile and visual manipulation of fragments of text became jargon for "hide this text" and "insert the most recently hidden text". Ted wanted – has always wanted – a computer text editor that restored the meaning to those words – an editor in which you can slice a manuscript into strips ("noodles", as Leo Tolstoy called them), rearrange them, duplicate them, view them side-by-side, delete them, and, of course, paste them together into new compositions. The Docuplextron was a decent 2.5D zoomable workspace already, so it seemed imminently doable.

Ted also wanted color, and grouping – features that would help people work on big, or complicated, or big-AND-complicated pieces of writing.

Export to plain-text was a must, and for all the little scraps of text that weren't quite ready to be baked into a file, the browser would simply store them, along with the state of the workspace, in localStorage. Simple!

Ted had loads of ideas—the man is, if you grant him nothing else, a fount of ideas—and I gave it the old college try to get them implemented. Around the end of March though, I'd hit some kind of a wall. It is an unfortunate fact of my creative practice that I lose the ability to work in a medium every few months, and I must switch. I couldn't program for a while. I got back to the (literal) drawing board.

I've been there and am now getting back again to Alph. A little bit.

I didn't get all of Ted's designs implemented properly/adequately, but his contributions to the software are numerous and invaluable. I've got a personal to-do list of things I want to get made, fixed, and refined in Alph right now, but when the time comes I look forward to rejoining my efforts with Ted as our collaboration was never terminated, only postponed.

As it stands, the Docuplextron is, in my opinion, really a very handy flying text editor. I've written this with it.