Mudoc Corporation's New Tools for
Learning, Reading, Working
A Most Useful Software Invention
The Mudoc Corporation is developing a software invention that may prove to be the most useful and beneficial invention of the 21st century. The invention is a new kind of movable type, interactive movable type. In the 15th century movable metal type was developed to make printing easier. Interactive movable type is being developed to make reading easier. Interactive movable type will enable everyone to read and will enable most readers to become superreaders. The interactive movable type software turns the personal computer into an electronic reading machine that enables readers to perform at higher levels of efficiency and comprehension. Wide use of the new software could lead to great increases in the consumption of text around the world.
A New Way to Read
Interactive movable type will change the way we use our languages. One change will be a fundamental change in the way we read text. When reading text set in interactive movable type, most readers will not read words, as such. Instead, they will read word clusters, logically-related groups of words called meaning units. A meaning unit is defined, in English, as either "a sentence or logical subdivision of a sentence." That definition is from The Mu Primer, a textbook now in manuscript form. (Mu is the twelfth letter of the Greek alphabet. It is also an acronym for meaning unit. Mu is pronounced with a long u, as in mutation.) Mudoc Corporation's MuPress plans to publish two versions of The Mu Primer, an electronic edition with its text set in interactive movable type and a print-on-paper edition with its text set in the mu typography (see next paragraph and "New Titles from The MuPress").
Capitalizing on Our Capabilities
Text is easier to see and understand when displayed as meaning units. Meaning unit displays enable readers to capitalize on the prodigious capabilities of the human visual and cognitive systems, whereas linear text displays severely limit those capabilities. With text presented as meaning units readers will be able to achieve faster rates and higher comprehension than is possible with text set in the linear typography. "Text Set in the Mu Typography" describes and illustrates the mu method of writing and reading.
Each reader of text set in interactive movable type will have many options in how the text is to be presented. One kind of option is the typographical format in which the text is to be displayed. The reader will be able to have the text presented in any of six typographical formats - in the conventional linear typography or in a one-line, two-line, three-line, four-line, or five-line mu format. Text in the one-line mu format differs minimally from conventional linear text, but it does permit two or three words to be seen with each fixation. And it helps the reader regularize his or her eye movements. With text in the multiple-line formats readers are able to consume larger chunks of text, chunks that contain more text than can be seen when displayed in the conventional linear typography. The four and five-line meaning units usually consist of phrases, clauses, or short sentences.
On Becoming an Expert
In use, interactive movable type will be supported by extensive reference substructures that enable each reader to function as an expert in the language of the document being read. The reference substructures, along with the other software tools used with interactive movable type, will remove most of the barriers and impediments encountered by nonreaders. Almost everyone (except preverbal children) will be able to read interactive text regardless of their literacy level or reading skills. Most illiterate adults who have access to publications with interactive text will be able to teach themselves to read. And, of those preschool children who have been playing with stories and games with interactive movable type, most will be reading proficiently (within the level of their knowledge and experience) before they enter first grade. (See "What is a mudoc anyway" and "Reading Mudoc Publications.")
Just the Reader's Type
Unlike conventional text, which is passive and fixed, interactive text is adapted to each reader. Text set in interactive movable type is sensitive and responsive to the particular capabilities, limitations, needs, and desires of each individual. (See "What the Mudoc Software Does for Readers.") Interactive movable type will help all individuals assimilate text more effectively, but it will be especially helpful for those with physical or neurological disorders - disorders like blindness, deafness, aphasia, dyslexia, and attention deficit disorder.
It'll Be Easy
The interactive movable type software can be employed with any phonographic natural language (such as Spanish or Russian) or partially phonographic natural language (such as English or French) with the necessary and appropriate modifications for each of the languages with which it is to be used. [Additional research will be needed to determine how well it will work with non-phonographic languages like Chinese.] But no natural language takes full advantage of the powerful human information processing system, so The Mudoc Corporation is developing a language that will capitalize on human capabilities, a language called Easy. Easy will employ a perceptually more efficient system of symbolization that will, among other things, enable sighted readers to apprehend larger meaning units. But, whatever their size, Easy meaning units will be easier to read and understand than natural language meaning units. Easy will also be easier to learn, easier to use, easier to write, easier to speak, easier to hear, and easier to remember than any natural language - easier because such characteristics are the criteria used in designing the language. Its better design will enable Easy readers to function at higher levels of cognitive efficiency than is possible with natural languages. And, although we'll use it just like a natural language, Easy will be a computer language. Because the computer and the computer user will both be speaking and/or seeing the same language, human-computer interaction will be far easier, faster, and simpler. Such a language could be developed and in use in about five years. Easy will be proposed as the common language of the European Union and other geopolitical groups. Such adoptions would greatly accelerate the use of Easy around the world. (For more information about Easy see Chapter IV, "Languages of the Future," in The Mu Primer manuscript and the "Easy Development" section in The Mudoc Technology - both of which are available on this website.)
The Two-Faced Interface
In addition to software inventions like interactive movable type and a perceptually more efficient language for readers, new hardware inventions will also change the way people communicate, the way they learn, and the way they think. Recently developed hardware products, including powerful multiprocessors, optical disc storage devices, and high-capacity data transmission systems are already changing thinking and behavior, particularly in the advanced nations. But soon to appear will be special kinds of human/computer interfaces that will effect even greater changes. Mudoc is now designing one such interface, the dual-display telereader terminal.
Magnificent Multimedia Machines
Although designed primarily to facilitate the reading of text, the telereader terminal will also be a highly effective human/computer interface for interactive multimedia presentations. The telereader will provide each user with completely and precisely controlled visual and aural environments - with a world of sights and sounds over which the user has total control, a focused world in which the user can achieve full concentration and optimum input/output efficiency. (Sketches and descriptions of the telereader are included in Chapter II of The Mu Primer manuscript.) Telereaders will facilitate interaction and communication between humans and computers - and between humans and humans through computers. Telereaders will be low in cost and high in portability, making them affordable to all and usable anywhere. Such devices will let those in the less-developed countries share more fully in the wealth of knowledge and information being produced around the world. (See "The Telereader: Tomorrow's Interactive Television Terminal.")
Interactive Television and Teaching
Most of today's television productions are passive programs consumed with TV sets designed for group viewing. But, as television evolves from an analog to a digital technology, it will change from a medium that is largely passive to one that is highly interactive. While passive TV is well-suited to group viewing, interactive television is not. Interactive television is controlled and directed - and often redirected - by the viewers. Interactive televiewing is more like reading a book than watching a movie - and book reading doesn't work very well as a group activity. So, except for activities like teaching and group games, most interactive televiewing will be a solitary activity. Thus, in the future, most television programs will be consumed with interface devices that are designed for individual use - interfaces like the telereader. In the classroom the use of telereaders will help make instruction much more individualized, but, at the same time, much less labor-intensive. The telereader's modest cost and small size will permit schools to provide each student with an interactive TV/computer terminal.
The Telereader and Telephony
In the future, most telephoning will be done with telereaders or equivalent terminals. The great majority of people in the world do not own a telephone. And most never will. But most will own, or at least have access to, a telereader terminal. The telereader will enable the user to do everything that can be done with a telephone and, with the telereader's audio-visual and computer tools, a great many other things as well. Terminals like the telereader will transform telephone technologies and techniques.
Into the Communications Age
The kind of tools described above will accelerate our transition from the information age into the rapidly developing communications age. In the information age we have seen a virtual explosion in the production of information. As we move further and further into the communications age we shall see a comparable explosion in the consumption of information. In the information age there have been large numbers of people who consume little or no text, especially in the less-developed countries. In the communications age everyone will be able to become literate - and most people will become superliterate. The increased empowerment that comes with additional knowledge will help most individuals and groups around the world become more productive and self-sufficient.
Leader in the Field
The tools of the mudoc technology may prove profitable as well as useful and beneficial. They could help The Mudoc Corporation become a major provider of communications age products. Through its websites, systems of national MetaBook Clubs, and neighborhood MuCenters (see Mudoc Corp's business plan, The Mudoc Technology), The Mudoc Corporation hopes to become the world's largest deliverer of electronic, multimedia, and print-on-paper publications -- and a major marketer of hardware and software products.
©1999, The Mudoc Corporation (rev. 10/06/00)
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