Lines is based on a writing technique from medieval times developed by monks as a solution to expensive paper and tedious writing. The monks were writing in the centre of the page allowing enough space for others to annotate the pages on the sides, method allowing you to read the story through other people’s writing. The problem arises when 5-6th person tried to comment there would be no paper space left over. As the time passed and writing material became cheaper this technique was abandoned and the techniques we used today were adopted. The team behind the project thought it would be interesting experiment to revisit the techniques using modern technologies, predominantly the “screen” as it has no borders and provides infinite space.
Educated as artists and graphic designers, trained primarily in the logics of print and haptic output, we have grown a great interest in how a transition to screen publishing, and the formats of the new media, affect the way we write, read and communicate. What are the new contracts between author and reader? How are they shaped by old and new forms, and how do new habits in writing and reading affect the way we build and share knowledge?
The way “lines” works is that you begin with the first column / text. You can comment the whole text or you can comment parts of the text. You can comment this comment and the structure can grow very big. To access this structure you can zoom in and zoom out the projects, filter by text or time.
Now, since reading happens more and more on screen, the fragmented reading process is greatly accelerated. This is a process we know from moving between passages in books and documents, but on screen these movements are greatly encouraged, mainly though the use of hyperlinks, placed there to grab our attention. Digital media gives us a lot of freedom to move between texts; search functions and filters help us to find exactly the piece of information we are looking for. In this sense, our guide on the way is our own goal, and each step on the path are provided by algorithms and keywords.
Whilst the method is quite new by todays standards, one can quite easily see how for example google docs may implement this feature in the future. Where traditionally we have thought of writing as a linear process, modern writing tools allow many alternative ways to both create content and navigate it. “lines” offers a good insight how the existing writing methodologies can change, considering how we both create and navigate digital content.