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2010-04-07
eBook formats for philosophy texts
For some time now I have been working in the MIT web content language Curl (www.curl.com) after many years in Smalltalk.

Curl is a UNICODE macro-enabled language for both web programming and web content which may prove useful for philosophy eBooks and articles.

In the past, programming for the Humanities had a brief honeymoon with SNOBOL as the language was not intended for programmers but for users.  When SNOBOL became ICON (one of the first open source languages), it somehow failed to catch on.

The difference with Curl is that Curl can be viewed as an alternative to both HTML5 and PDF: it can be generated on the web by languages such as REBOL, ICON, Smalltalk or even PHP.

What Curl permits is dynamic loading of text content and session-based loading of macro's for content formatting.  The current Curl 7 also allows the use of Javascript in web applets.

What this can mean is that one and the same "text" can be viewed, e.g., with in-line footnotes, footnotes at the end or footnote-free.  A text can be viewed as containing numerous bracketed translations, e.g., [Bedeutung] or with the author's native language only.

This is because any one format definition, such as {my-footnote some text here} can be defined to do something or simply to do nothing depending on your choices for that session.

Curl is often presented as an alternative to Adobe Flash and AIR or Microsoft Silverlight, but it might be better seen as an eBook alternative to Adobe PDF.

I have placed an example at  http://phil.aule-browser.com/truth  which is an alternative "reading" of an essay.  The essay is peppered with bold, square-bracketed interpolations or comments as a "reading" of the obscure text in question: Heidegger's lecture on the "essence of truth".

What Curl should allow is tying this text to the Freiburg inaugural lecture and to other texts - including key texts by then-militarist Ernest Juenger (the lectures date from 1930-32.)  In the case of Hume, texts might be tied to Mach or a text of Mach tied by to Hume with linking as extensive as the task requires.  An initial "reading" might suppress all links.

In recent weeks I have been working on Curl as a markup language for poetry, but it may prove to be even more useful for comparing and contrasting versions of papers, translations of papers and inclusion/exclusion of marginalia and annotations.
 
The example above requires the web browser plugin from the Curl Downloads section for Runtime Engine (RTE) at http://www.curl.com/download/rte/index.php
 
A simple Curl example would be
   {text All statements can be classified as analytic or synthetic.}
and a richer example might be
   {paragraph  Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we had better remain silent}
and user-defined might be
   {phil-text references?=false, your reference-free text goes here with your custom formatting}
See Curl.com for more examples or visit my aule-browser.com

Rebol of http://www.rebol.com, which arises from Dana Scott's work on Denotational Semantics, makes an interesting language for generating Curl and parsing text; Seaside for Smalltalk is another interesting framework for generating Curl (Squeak Smalltalk at  squeak.org  is already involved with an eBook format project.)  ICON 9.5 is currtently in Beta and UNICODE ObjectIcon is now available at http://code.google.com/ObjectIcon

2010-09-18
eBook formats for philosophy texts
Curl seems like an interesting language, but for the purpose of textual production, would not LaTeX be ideal?  Since it is already a standard format for many technical and scientific publications and is free.  Although, one fully capable could open wide the possibilities of what constitutes a "publication" through the ephemeral medium of the "Internet", but the qualifying phrase is "fully capable".