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In Geeks Bearing Gifts, Ted Nelson points out that while digital cut/paste is a sequential "hide" and "insert", physical cut/paste is inherently parallel: you see all the "cuts" side-by-side, rearranging and trying different configurations. It's a loss:
Process story! @mayli, @farrarscott, and I finished this endless report on our early math work (…), but @cgingold convinced us we had the story all wrong. Despair, then: we printed it, cut it up, rearranged it, scribbled all over it, and taped it together.
7 replies and sub-replies as of Apr 23 2020

I think undue formality is a key part of the problem. When physically cutting and pasting, you pass through lots of temporary “invalid” configurations as you explore the space. Sequential cut/paste as hide/insert makes temporary states dangerous (don't lose your pasteboard!).
This relates to the problem of "peripheral vision", but it's closer to the old HCI problem of "detail-in-context" (…) and the problems which @Dynamicland1 aspires to solve.
Software interfaces undervalue peripheral vision! (a thread) My physical space is full of subtle cues. Books I read or bought most recently are lying out. Papers are lying in stacks on my desk, roughly arranged by their relationships.
Also related: parallel reading is surprisingly hard on screens! PDF or EPUB readers don't let readers view multiple pages at a time. Want to look at the bibliography corresponding to the text you’re reading? Enjoy flipping back and forth. @liquidtext is the golden exception.
When using a design tool like sketch, I’ll often duplicate and entire document, group related elements, and rearrange them in various ways to find what works best. I would love to be able to do the same thing more naturally when writing.
That "cut up and rearranged" essay makes me so happy. I tried something similar once when I was at a writing workshop and it was super effective to the extent that it permanently changed how I approach writing.
I wish clipboards worked more like ephemeral context boards.…
What if instead of a clipboard we had a context-board of recent interactions? No explicit copy, only a short-term memory of relevant media artifacts. Aligning contexts provides a side door to serendipitous interaction. How well does this collab framing apply to comms?