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DOCUMENTS ARE PARALLEL BY NATURE
Documents are intrinsically parallel. Sound too complicated?
Sorry. That's the nature of information-- it comes in packages which
supplement and disagree.
Right now, most computer people still think of documents as independent
and standing alone. This is a naive stage of understanding, looking
at individual pieces and not seeing the whole-- like the biology of two
hundred years ago.
But many documents are intrinsically parallel. This is where the
hard document work lies, and what computers must be set up for.
Parallel documents come in different forms--
My working definition of a document is this: a document is an
arbitrary collection of versions having the same name (and possibly
under control of the same owner), whose cross-connections and commonalities
may be important. These are parallel.
In addition, many documents travel together-- for instance, commentaries,
which cannot even be considered without the documents which they comment
on; or other documents implicitly connected, such as parodies and the original
targets that they satirize. These too are parallel.
Non-parallel documents are the EXTREME CASE.
The extreme case is a document with only one version-- with no variants,
no alternatives, no history, no commentaries or other coupled documents.
This is the trivially-simple case for which today's trivial text systems
have been designed. And even though the large majority of documents
may be like that-- alone and brotherless-- it is the more serious problem
of multiple parallel versions that we must design for.
intercomparing and working with connections among parallel versions and
coupled texts is what the hard document work is really about. This
is what computer document work must be set up for.