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[ L ] What is Zzstructure

Gzz is an implementation of action invented by Ted Nelson. Gzz is being developed by Hyperstructure Group at the university of Jyväskylä, Finland, in collaboration with Nelson.

What is Zzstructure?

Zzstructure is a way of representing the structure of information. Compared with the previous ways, Zzstructure is very different, for example the concepts of 'file', 'folder' and 'application' are abandoned. Because of this a bit of fantasy, creativity and an ability to forget previous knowledge is needed in order to understand Zzstructure.

A Zzstructure structure consists of cells and dimensions. A cell is the basic unit of information of a Zzstructure structure. Cells containing related information can be connected with each other along dimensions, the number of which is unlimited. A Zzstructure structure is separate from its visualisation (= the way the data is presented on the screen), which means that a Zzstructure structure can have many visualisations designed for different purposes.

Even though a Zzstructure structure is separate from its visualisation, a Zzstructure structure is not separate from other Zzstructure structures. Every piece of information stored in a digital device using based on Zzstructure is in the same space: the same cells can be connected on several dimensions created for different structures. For example, the cells containing the names of one's relatives can be connected on dimensions created for a family tree structure, an address book structure and a photo album structure.

What are the advantages of Zzstructure?

Based on the definition given above, the main advantages are summarized here shortly:

  • Because a Zzstructure structure is separate from its visualisation, different visualisations can be build for different users. For example an information structure designed for teaching purposes can have different visualisations showing different information for beginners and for more advantaged learners. Different targent audiences, such as children, senior citizens or handicapped people can easily be catered.
  • Because a Zzstructure structure is separate from its visualisation, the same structures can be used (without modifications) in different digital media, varying from cellular phones to PC to immersive virtual reality systems. Only the visualisations are different and can be constructed to take full advantage of the medium in question.
  • The cell and connections mechanisms of Gzz can provide for seamless co-operation between different devices.
  • Because the same cells can be used in several Zzstructure structures, updating information becomes faster. In the current computer systems the same information is stored in several places in separate files and the user has to update the change in every file. A user of Gzz only updates a certain piece of information once and the changes can be seen everywhere.
  • Cells and dimensions allow a more flexible way to arrange the information than the conventional file and folders model. A user of Gzz can connected related information in any structures, based on her associations.
  • It appears that it is considerably easier to write new visualizations using Zzstructure than e.g. CORBA, as adjusting to a new data structure expressed in terms of cells and dimensions is easier than adjusting to a new API.

Future of Gzz?

Our goal is to facilitate the production and arrangement of information by creating, as Nelson expresses it, "a high-power personal and media system, with editing and presentation systems that expand the state of art".

Currently we have a working Gzz on the Java platform, and in the near future we are focused on developing

  • Clang, a cellular language , which makes programming easier
  • A network protocol for exchanging cells between computers enabling synchronizing information between a laptop and a desktop or remote collaboration with different users
  • Virtual structures, which enable any data, such as Web pages and conventional databases, to be seen through the Zzstructure structure
  • Porting Zzstructure to different devices, for example PDAs and virtual reality
  • Some applitudes, e.g. an e-mail, a digital image processing and a text editing applitude

Gzz is a free software project: the source code is released under the LGPL license and everyone interested is welcome to join our mailing lists. "Patches", as people of the free software community say, and any other ideas of developing the system are gladly accepted.

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