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Catfish and Cod
Thursday, May 20, 2004
The need for information tracking.
(Link path: King of the Blogs, Belmont Club)

Wretchard is right -- we need to be able to know how our knowledge is evolving, over both space and time. Knowledge should not be viewed as discrete events, but as part of a continuum, complete with interactions.

But this need goes well beyond the news, or the "public intelligence service" as he puts it. Adaptations of the same software could well be used to track the evolution of a medical patient's disease, or the development of a scientific theory, or the concept drawings and script revisions of Hollywood, or...

The list of applications is endless! Why isn't someone developing this software? (Actually, someone probably is and I don't know about it.)

A related useful tool would be something I call "Reverse Track Changes". Microsoft Word has a mode where it displays all the changes made to a document, with different colors to indicate different authors and revisions. At each stage, you can generate a new document incorporating the changes made. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to take multiple versions of a document, such as Wretchard collected in his post, and generate such a document? A program like that ought to be easy to code using multiple iterations of Unix diff. Anyone want to give it a shot? (For bonus points, set up your program to auto-pull its various versions from Google News.)