Poll for Textbender (Recombinant Text)

Hello to the forum,

This is an informal poll about textbender, an open source, peer-to-peer system for collaborative writing. The purpose of the poll is to sound out interest among potential users, for a proposed beta version.

Below are the premise and the question of the poll:

The good part of textbender is the underlying medium of recombinant text. It promises benefits for poets and writers, from engaging in critical dialogue, to contributing to new art forms:

For a more general overview of recombinant text, please see:

The bad part is the current implementation. Textbender is still primitive, and the medium will be a challenge for writers to work in. The beta will be almost as primitive as the alpha version shown here:
zelea.com/var/cache/textbender-d … ctions.xht

And the question, assuming that the planned beta were developed:

  1. Would you be inclined to participate as a beta user?

  2. Why? (In a word or two, what do you like or dislike about it?)

Responses will be summarized at:
zelea.com/project/textbender/d/_ … a-beta.xht

Thank you,
– Mike

I am skeptical of this, but I’d strongly suggest that rather than taking a poll, if this is software you want to use, develop it, make it your dream tool, and it will find an audience. Don’t design it by committee.

Well, to be fair, this sort of collaboration is not all that uncommon in the open source world. It might seem a little strange to those who are only familiar with client-developer model; but when anyone can download the guts of a program, make changes, and submit them for approval, it is going to be a much more “open” development environment. There are no guidelines for how closed minded or open minded an OSS lead developer should be. It depends a lot on the project and the people involved.

For this project which is all about collaboration, it seems very fitting. And the project is extremely interesting. I’m not sure if I’d be interested in it because I never collaborate, but this sort of technology when applied to writing is a very interesting, modern development. I like how it deviates from the concept of the Wiki (which is a primitive form of this concept) in a manner which works to preserve individual trunks of submission.

I’m tempted to sign up just because it is so interesting. :slight_smile:

Amber, you make me feel so cynical.

I guess I meant more that, in my experience, good open source projects tend to start with a good alpha or beta version. I’ve seen people come out with a survey (most often with no running code, admittedly) and the software rarely goes anywhere. This does look interesting and I hope the developer proves me totally wrong.

Those are helpful answers. If you want to fly, then build the machine, and fly it. Why take a poll on the question?

Trouble is, this machine needs an artist as the pilot. I can build it, to a certain level. My background is biology and engineering; I know the theory, and I know the nuts and bolts. But I can’t fly. My only motive is, I think it’s interesting.

So there’s a gap to fill. Test pilots are needed. But if you agree it’s interesting, then that’s encouraging. (They’ll need courage, especially at first!)

Sign me up, Michael. I’m not sure that I’ll be precisely the type of person you are looking for, since I lack experience in real collaboration; but I’m pretty good at workflow analysis and theoretical usages.

Great, you’re on the roster!

I get a sense that I should just open up the front door of the workshop, and put some coffee on. It looks like there’s enough to attract artists just in the ideas, or the possibilities of it. They’ll wander in, and casually kick the tires. Many will shake their heads; but a few will rev up the engine. They may even take it out and fly it. Their early design feedback would be valuable.

Later, when they felt ready, they might join together for some neighbourhood barnstorming. I mean, anything at all to attract attention at that point would be helpful; especially if it ended up attracting engineers. Prior to that, they won’t be much interested in helping, though. They’ll wait till they see the initial users. Like me, most of them can’t use the software themselves.

I’ll wait for the poll to wind up, and then post a summary and ideas. But that’s what I’m thinking at this point.

Thank you to those who responded. The poll results
summed across the various forums are:

[code] ------------------------------------
Inclined to participate
in the proposed beta: 5

Not inclined to participate: 5

details: zelea.com/project/textbender/d/_ … a-beta.xht

The results indicate that some artists, at least, would be inclined
to participate, despite a primitive beta implementation.

The frequency of positive responses was higher than expected.
It suggests that some artists might also be inclined to participate
earlier than beta. To test this possibility, the project
has now been opened to artists (and to other participants as well).
For anyone who is interested, please see:

Thanks again,

Mike Allan

That’s a very punctilious poll result page. :slight_smile:

I’m running into a major block here in regards to even using TextBender at all. As has been noted and discussed all over, Apple has been very quiet on releasing Java updates. We just got a minor Java 5 update a bit ago that fixed some DST hassles, but that is it. Rumours state that Java 6 will come with the next release of OS X due in October, but they are just rumours. A pre-release of Java 6 was put up on ADC a while back, but it seems it is already obsolete, and eh – you need an expensive ADC membership to even get it.

So, it looks like I, and anyone else on this board who might have an interest (we are all Mac users here), are going to have to pass on TextBender, unless you can find a way to support Java 5. It would probably not be safe to assume that Java 6 will come with Leopard in October, but you never know. Everyone who does know is under NDA at the moment.

(I put on my white lab coat for that one. Any excuse, at all…)

Lack of Mac support has to be fixed ASAP, now the project is being opened up. (I had no such idea, when I originally posted.)

Mac only has Java 5, eh? I didn’t know… But it’s no problem cutting a Java 5 version for the Mac. The problem is to get an engineer with Mac hardware to test/debug it. (Same goes for any platform. To support it, we need to test/debug each release on it.) Either:

  • an engineer with a Mac joins us, or

  • someone lends us a Mac, or

  • I buy a Mac

No problem in the last case. Only it will be several months or so before I can afford it. Meantime, I’ve placed a “want ad” on the new contributors page, and made it a priority task:

If anyone else has ideas (or an unused Mac in the garage!) please let us know,

– Mike