“…the primary source for serious hypertext” – Robert Coover, The New York Times Book Review

Storyspace 2: Thoughts

David Berreby

There are a lot of changes to shout Hallelujah about in Storyspace 2, but what they all add up to is a sense of getting my hands right into the work, rather than feeling it through a layer of software. I find myself spending much more time working in Storyspace now. The big canyon between structuring and writing is gone, thanks in large part to the new text engine. With the keyboard behaving as I expect, I just write. Without having to worry about the length of a space, I just go on. Knowing I can find any keyword or indeed any text so quickly, I can simply put down thoughts without a cramping anxiety about where they belong and whether I will be able to reproduce my structural thinking next week. Drag and drop is fabulous, and vast fields of text from the Web and from my Nisus notes and Stickies jots are now easily accessible. Before, I always made a cost/benefit calculation about importing something into a Storyspace web. Now, no need.

The boundary between writing and organizing has practically disappeared.

The consequence of all this is a new feeling of looseness and freedom. My Storyspace 1 webs were Rube Goldberg machines compared my newer work, because in Storyspace 2 I know I can make and unmake structure with ease. I find that the boundary between writing and organizing has practically disappeared. If I find myself writing beyond the intended point of a space, I can go on with confidence. If the meandering turns out to belong elsewhere, it will be easy to move. Often, when I'm putting flesh on a bare outline, I find the flesh turning into the new bones of more outline. With this version of Storyspace, I just keep going, confident that I can explode the writing into a structure later.

New opportunities often present themselves. I've even started to use Storyspace for my birder's list. With one space for each species, I can easily import whatever I've got -- photos, recordings -- as well as the basics of where and when I saw each bird. It is A Good Thing.

I think this is a great leap forward in exactly the area where I found Storyspace to be unique -- the ability to make thoughts about structure as explicit and visible as thoughts about content.

...the program is absolutely stable

The Storyspace 2 interface is simpler and more redundant. It takes less time to start doing real work, and the many alternative ways of accomplishing tasks make it more likely that I can find a way that seems intuitive. Then there's the way that the program is absolutely stable.

I find myself using Storyspace for a lot of new uses -- like organizing an event this summer -- as well as rewriting my book. All in all, a great job.