Looking at ways to represent the "exrernalization of thought"*, I developed a simple word processor that emulate the way words appear and die** as soon as they bring forth thoughts.
Each word typed (as soon as it defined as such) immediately disappear from the screen. This condition enable the mind to renounce some of the most demanding cognitive tasks related to writing (revisiting, reviewing, editing, goal setting and planning). The new word processor creates a "now" space. Without seeing what has already been written, and with no fixed goals, the user is "forced" to stay in the pseudo-passive state, where he typed whatever comes into his mind.
The new framework is addictive as surfing the web. The opportunity users has to consciously read their own thoughts set out a situation where we constantly consuming rapidly changing information. The data is arranged in the same order our mind would prefer to take it in, thus makes the addictive effect much powerful. It is very hard to stop writing as soon as you drawn into it, as one of the subjects wrote: "When the screen went blank and I could not write, I realised how involved with this I had become I did not want to stop and was very frustrated"
All the data that is being typed is constantly saved and processed so that users can read it as soon as they close the application.
> Select the "write" word inside and start typing. Press the "space bar" after each word you type.
There where few factors I could measure with the word processor itself:
Daydreaming - Moments that users lost their conscious view. The program was set to produce a sign if nothing was typed for 30 seconds.
Speaking - Moments the subjects had to speak with others in the physical world.
Singing and Humming - Moments users realised they where humming to them selves.
* Roy D. Pea & D. Mldlan Kurland, Review of Research in Education 14, 1987, Chapter 7, Cognitive Technologies for Writing.
** Ronald T. Kellogg, The Psychology of Writing, Oxford University Press, USA (August 5, 1999).
"Thoughts You May Have" is part of "The Future of Writing" research commisioned by "Microsoft Research Labs" in Cambridge from the Design Interaction Department at the Royal Colege of Art. The research directed towards narrative creation and authorship, new tools for authoring, and the relations between public and private authorship.