Synechepedia

A Writing Assistant

A writing assistant facilitating the modular composition of conceptually consistent technical prose.

Akin to a proof assistant.

Ethos

The aim is not to make technical writing easier, the aim is to make it better. This may require placing more demands on the writer, but mostly comes through providing tools to support exploration and organization.

We must avoid tech that encourages monoculture or encourages thoughtlessness at all costs, so these are anathema

  • Predictive text
  • Content generation
  • Most usual applications of machine learning

Features

Relates, coordinates, and organizes concepts

Consistency is supported via enforced univocal definition of key terms and substitution/lookup of those definitions. Completeness is encouraged via mechanisms to automatically connect and relate internal and external sources.

Internal to the composition

  • defining terms (and checking for consistent usage)
  • specifying equivalences (synonyms)
  • systematic disambiguation of homonymous terms
  • specifies entailments (inclusion)
    • can use wordnet for sub-concept inclusion detections/tests?

External

Suggestions for relevant citations and quotations are generated dynamically by cross- referencing a corpus of texts with terms and phrases from the sentence under edit

Strucures passages

Modularity is achieved by enclosing informal prose fragments with opening topic and closing conclusion sentences. These provide formal interfaces to other modules parameterized by configuration of key terms.

  • passages are transitions or pathways from one notion to another.
  • A notion is a complex of concepts & compounding terms (syncategorematic).

Some example patterns of passages

source1
topic sentence
target1
conclusion statement
source2
hypothetical (if x holds, then y follows)
target2
drawing conclusion
source3
question
target3
answer
source4
question
target4
expanded question or sub-question

Passages nest and branch

E.g.,

  • topic
    • question … answer
    • question … answer
  • conclusion

Tests/explorations

Generates variant senses, presented to the author for review, so they can anticipate misunderstandings or elaborate along previously unconsidered lines of thought.

With relatively simple transformations, can generate things like

  • valid inferences
  • alternate interpretations
  • rephrasing exploration via grammatically correct permutations of sentences under edit

    (Can be considered a form of refactoring)

Transitions

These link passages. They are special kinds of passages, which are schemas for coordinating passages.

  • should be modular
  • they are tropes like analogy, metaphor, synonym expansion, association of concepts, etc.

Connections