(originally on OneTextInterface)


One of the guys I met through Engelbart's Bootstrap Alliance, Lee Iverson, is now up at UBC. He's got a project called NODAL (a Network-Oriented Document Abstraction Language) which is a distributed database system that deals with content at a high level of granularity, kinda turning a traditional file system on its head. I talked with Lee several years ago about how the ReiserFS and NODAL are similar in this regard, that in both the boundaries between files are illusory. See A New Model for Collaborative Work on SourceForge and also Lee's blog, where he talks about NameSpace issues and other things that people on this wiki have expressed an interest in. Lee's ideas should be considered seriously by anyone looking at distributed information systems, alternative hypertext and organizational models, etc.


Man, that's some thick stuff..!

Here's a paragraph:

NODAL is designed as a general, document-oriented distributed database with a data model that allows addressing, searching and linking of content of any kind from any document. The data model defines documents as directed graphs of content nodes and provides adaptable addressing, security, privacy and version control at the granularity of these nodes. Moreover, it is built on a distributed client-server (or peer-to-peer) communication model that seamlessly shifts from synchronous, real-time interaction to asynchronous or intermittently-connected interaction. Finally, it is designed to extensibly, support a wide range of input and output formats so that it will interoperate easily with systems using existing standard document formats and exchange protocols, including even applications unaware of its existence. It is hoped that this simple system will become a standard, universal component of the infrastructure of information management and exchange and thus allow for flexible, productive collaboration between willing people for any purpose, anywhere, using any tools.

Can you tell me what that means?

Here's what I've got so far:

  • NODAL is a way of storing info on a lot of computers.
  • NODAL stores information in "nodes," which you can point at one another.
  • Nodes are secure, private, and everything in them is versioned.
  • There's a way to quickly search across nodes.
  • Something-something about real-time and intermittent-time.
  • It's made to hook into existing systems. (SideSystemsFirst)
  • "We think it's cool, and want everybody to use it."

There's little in the web pages (that I saw) about what this means, practically. If this is indeed cool, we need to pull this down to earth, and make it mean something.

This seems sort of like a network of what I've been calling a DocumentServer?, in the OneBigSoup story.

Define external redirect: DocumentServer