A Non-Reductionalist Word Processor

On Tuesday, we mentioned the notion of needing flexible models of creativity, or any complex reality, in order to create designs with strong HCI foundations (I think).  I decided to try to apply this to word processors.

Before the age of word processors, most of our papers were written on plain sheets of ruled white paper.  Do blank sheets of paper promote or limit creativity?  They promote creativity because there are no boundaries to what the pencil can write on a paper, but they may limit creativity because blank paper has nothing else on it to encourage creative processes.

I was then thinking about how you would design a word processor to promote creativity.  I opened up Microsoft Word and noticed that the program excels at allowing the user to edit the physical design of a paper.  Fonts, Colors, Sizes, Etc. can be changed with ease.  However, while word processors may succeed in making a creative looking paper, they do nothing to progres the language and topics of the paper itself.  In other words, word processors do not help you brainstorm ideas, they only help you make those ideas look pretty. 

Very often when writing a paper, the most difficult part is just getting started.  What if a word processor was designed which gave you ideas?  For instance, I input a title of “Driveway Hockey” and from querying the word “Driveway Hockey”, the word processor would output related ideas such as scoring goals, injuries, NHL, informatics, etc.  This would serve as a way to help me in thinking of related ideas I could discuss about Driveway Hockey in my paper, and thus, make a more creative paper. 


  1. jeffreybardzell

    Excellent points. Of course, mind-map software does some of the things you are talking about. Part of the issue is that “writing” is too general a term. There are different stages or processes of writing, and Word does not support them all equally, and users/writers unaware of that may not realize what they are missing.

  2. mingxian

    I am wandering that it will be a disaster if the work processor give me one thousand key words after I input design into a blank word file… I think the difficulty is how to balance then.


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