Journal as History Visualized

I reflect on why hardly a day goes by when I am not asked if it wouldn't be possible to hide the Journal. My position has been that it should be more present, more beautiful, more of a guide to knowing. What is it that people expect from a computer?


I'm asked, Have you considered putting tabs on the pages, like Wikipedia and other wikis? I ask because there could be many hundreds of changes over time, and if on the top page would make it very long.

I respond, I've made sure it can be done. As a personal experiment I've chosen not to do it just to see how bad it gets. My conclusion: not bad.


Some common complaint:

  • I don't want people to see my mistakes.
  • Even tiny edits show up taking space.
  • It's confusing, why confuse people?
  • What I've found:

  • When viewing foreign content, I start with the journal.
  • Pages grow to be 2-1/2 screens high, 1/5 journal.
  • I wish for day/month/year markers in the journal.
  • I wish the common-heritage was more obvious.
  • I wish to watch the page evolve like a movie.
  • All of these wishes are possible.


    We have for decades considered the computer as a device for making pages. Our progress towards that finished product is assumed to be of little value compared to the product.

    Conversely, the scientific tradition for papers is to include method with result and to judge quality of result by the care in method, not the desirability of the result.

    I defend the journal not for what it is, but for what it could become. I hesitate to hide it for fear it will be forgotten.


    There is currently considerable noise in the journal. The history reported there is tied closely to the operation of the interface, not the thought processes that lead to that operation. Can intent be mechanically discovered from action?

    Wants and Needs suggests: Condense journal on demand or maybe at obvious times like pushing from local to origin. Possible edits include:

  • condense journal removing +x, +\, \\\\
  • condense journal to ++++
  • condense journal to *
  • Correlation

    The Reports plugin provides to the story the opportunity to talk about dates. See Status Deployment Report. One naturally asks, was this paragraph included in the last report? The journal is the place to answer that question. Recent publication dates could be included as special marks in the journal.

    We envision a date calculator similar to the method calculator. Originally motivated for historical dates, the same plugin can play a role in forecasting dates and one often does in Reports. See Federated Timeline.

    Does it make sense to allow an awareness of the progression toward an end to influence the end itself? I think yes. Perhaps, when effectively integrated with the story, the progression captured by the journal will emerge as the most influential component of federated wiki page.