"I am baffled by the fact that LM is not better known. There are so many people working on concordances, glossaries and ontologies, for all of which LM is a perfect tool, that I would have expected word to have travelled farther and faster. At any rate, I am grateful for the capability it supplies, which is incomparable."
H. T.: I am very excited about having a copy of Literary Machine Professional. I am an avid collector of text materials: scraps of overheard dialogue, dreams, annotations, ideas, feelings, story ideas, etc. I keep these materials in notebooks but the problem is organization. You write your ideas and collect stuff and fill up your notebooks. The problem is that what you accumulate is not very useful. You remember that you wrote down a dream a few months ago and that it contained an image and some dialogue that you would like to include in a short story you’re working on. Now what month was it? You begin thumbing through your journals and maybe if you’re lucky you eventually find it. Organizing the material you collect is a real problem.
Walt Whitman, a writer I have long admired, developed a pretty good solution to this problem.
Whitman, like most writers, collected his ideas and observations throughout the day by writing them down on whatever scrap of paper was handy. Whitman cared not a whit for what he wrote with or what he wrote on. He generally carried a stub of a pencil in his pocket and could find a receipt, envelope or a scrap of newsprint upon which he could write.
When he got back to his desk at the end of the day, he would empty his pockets and then sit down and look over the various scraps of paper and notes and organize the according to major themes or topics. He next added the material to envelops he kept as a filing system. Each envelop was labeled according to what material it contained. Periodically he would empty an envelop onto his desk top and arrange the notes in various configurations and determine whether or not they seemed to point to a poem. He never forced things, and if no pattern emerged he returned them along with any notes he had written to the envelope. He collected widely and revised continually and out this mass of information he was able to cultivate a few gems. He likened this process to a Pyramid. The base of the pyramid represented the collection process and the body of the pyramid represented the process of revision and the apex represented the end process or final work.
The program you created is the perfect method of organizing these disparate scraps of information and is a program I think Whitman would have used had it been available to him. Notes, or reference to notes (or internet sites), can be dumped into LM and then later as the need arises, quickly retrieved for review or revision. Thanks to LM's design, these bits of information can then be reorganized, filtered, compiled or whatever, depending upon the writer's particular needs and eventually compiled into finished works.
C.B.: The thing that I find most appealing from the high level perspective is the way that the program gives structure to my right brain thinking and creating style. I have not found the proper balance between right brain freedom and left brain structure in a piece of creative software before, and this feels quite elegant and promising. I am really liking the way that it forces behind the scenes structure on research that for me tends to go all over the place.
Other than beginning to create a few items in the database, the quick immediate use has been the creation of a project list of science news and press release URL's in the project pane with the pane to the right toggled on so as to work with the Web pages right in the program. This creation of daily news research items straight into the database has been immediately intuitive and appealing. Am looking forward to learning the other facets of the program. As a creative writer by profession, this has been rather a nice surprise.
A.B.: I'm a social scientist, and I am constantly collecting snippets of data, text and quotations/references. LM seems to be a low-cost and convenient way of organizing such semi-structured material, as it allows me to relate the data to one or more analytical concepts used in my research.
ZFK: I use The Literary Machine to store thoughts, ideas, letters, bits of information about library loans, internet banking details, passwords-- a general storehouse of information. I also use it in the early planning and brainstorming stages of preparing work and essays for university studies. Now that outlining and book mode work so well, I find that my work goes quite far on LM alone. I am always writing ideas on little scraps of paper and losing them, and spent a long time looking for a computer program that would let me store information on a multitude of different topics in a way that made sense to me and was not too rigid. I tried the classic note-tree programs . . . . However, the problem with these programs is that the tree structure is only good for storing certain types of information: periodical newsletters are a good example. They are not so good for storing more losely organised bits of information, thoughts and the like, which need to be able to be stored underneath multiple headings, and have links that cut across the tree structure. For a while I was quite excited by PersonalBrain, [but] it was just too difficult to navigate the web of "thoughts" once it became even moderately complex. I much prefer the unique, more abstract approach of LM, and it is now, along with the Opera web browser, my most-used piece of software.
I am also very impressed by the tremendous effort and care taken by the author, Gunnar Sommestad, to continue to develop LM in new and exciting ways. Well, this has become quite a rant, but . . . I use LM to store and organise writings of all kinds, from shopping lists and contact details, to large and complex essays. I have not found better software for these purposes, and I have looked hard.
D.S.: AXON allows me to create, through air photos or maps, or species photos, for instance, a visual representation of a set of ecosystems which I can use as a desktop or launch pad so to speak. It allows me to launch any file [ text, axon, LM, Skwyrul, graphics, audio, you name it ] that my computer controls.
THE LITERARY MACHINE is the only true Brain in my data stream in that ALL inputs to the project wherever they are from, and whatever scale of significance they may have, are easily and creatively entered, and just as creatively assembled again in new ways. My own brain is allowed to do its processing work in its moment without the constraints of hierarchy and with full confidence that the data is not being lost in obscurity (I think that was the hardest part to get used to). Exploring the true complexity of the linkages between objects isn't marred by any necessity to maintain fiats of order external to my own vision of the day, yet the program faithfully returns my input and allows the vision of a future day to add ammend or even delete yesterdays vision Just like a brain (though I always distrust the urge to delete in my brain, it can feel like a running away from something or other).
SKWYRULPRO is in dramatic contrast with LM in its intensely hierarchical structure, which I find a necessary evil if I wish to approach the entire eighty three root elements of ecosystem in one gestalt, which I often do.
S.P-y: The more I use the lit machine the more certain I am of it's conceptual integrity. The mind is not a tidy mechanism! No matter how certain we are that we have the detail and all we need to do now is organise it. Experience teaches us that new ideas, revisions etc are bound to come to mind even as we set out to commit our plan to stone. And it is of course the ability to revise the links in the chain quickly that makes your program so useful. As I have said before the key to getting our best ideas out is speed and flexibilty. Unless you have the attention span of a Tesla! the tricky bit is remembering something long enough for you to be able to record it meaninfully! The organising bit of the equation is simple by comparison.