April 8, 2004


by Noah Wardrip-Fruin · , 12:02 am

I’ve just started experimenting with txtkit. One begins reading by typing searches into a Mac’s terminal window. Then the machine’s desktop is replaced by an OpenGL-rendered representation of a collaborative reading space. Matching sentences unfurl vertically when selected, against a background of a slowly-rotating spirograph-like structure that represents the cluster of search results. And then the visualizations that connect with the readings of others kick in. Have any GTxA readers experimented with this? What do you think?

Current texts available for collaborative reading include a selection by Lev Manovich, a selection by project originator Hans Ulrich Reck, and Lawrence Lessig’s new book (another benefit of free culture). Here is some material culled from the project web pages:

txtkit is an Open Source visual text mining tool for exploring large amounts of multilingual texts. It’s a multiuser-application which mainly focuses on the process of reading and reasoning as a series of decisions and events. To expand this single perspective activity txtkit collects all of the users mining data and uses them to create content recommendations through collaborative filtering. The software requires Mac OS X 10.3 and Internet access.

Main parts of txtkit are: an integrated parsing programm, a mysql database running on a server and the txtkit client divided in txtshell (terminal application) and txtvbot (for cocoa opengl). After you have installed txtkit on your computer you will be automatically connected with the txtkit database. Due to its integrated parsing module, you can parse and use every text you like. txtkit has an open and variable architecture which allows you to add multiple sources in different languages on different servers. Our servers offer four sources at the moment: “Art Media Theory” by Hans Ulrich Reck (german & english), “New Media Research” by Lev Manovich (english), “Free Culture” by Lawrence Lessig (english). If you like to know how you can share your own files, please check the Do-It-Yourself parsing section.