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LivingDocuments is a web-based application that is based on the collaborative editing paradigm and is implemented using AngularJS for the front-end and a Java-based backend, which is accessed through RESTful interfaces.

LivingDocuments aims at addressing the issue of the alternating patterns of changeability (phase II), stability (phase III), and again changeability (phase IV) of the knowledge maturing process, which is related to  users’ concerns about sharing and using less mature knowledge. To overcome this, the LivingDocuments system has created an environment in which shared knowledge representations (such as local implementation plans) can be developed as living documents where (i) parts can be declared stable, (ii) comments and document parts can be associated with maturity indicators, and (iii) practice members can be notified about prescriptive changes.

The main part of the system consists of a near real-time collaborative editor. In the text, users can mark specific sections, comment on them, and start discussions for those sections, which creates new sub-documents. Such discussions can have different purposes, such as raising questions, proposing enhancements or contextualizations, or negotiation with others towards a common agreement.

Maturity indicators show users the maturity of such contributions, which are - at the moment - manually annotated, but there are plans to calculate them semi-automatically, e.g., based on a large set of measures, such as view time, editing time, sub documents, author expertise tags in comparison to content tags, among others.

In addition to directly editing documents, it is also possible to declare documents as stable. To integrate insights from the discussions into the stable part of documents, the moderator of the document can receive “pull requests” similar to the Git version control model.

Features for supporting awareness about changes and contributions are as important as features for contributing. Therefore subscriptions are supported, which can refer to different parts of a document so that overload of notifications can be avoided. Individuals can choose to be informed about contributions to discussions or just to changes of the stable part so that these subscription can be considered maturity-aware. Furthermore, activity streams are supported.

Documents can be enriched by multimedia attachments and placing links to external content. Furthermore, documents as well as users can be tagged with respect to topic/expertise. This forms the basis for recommending related documents/resources, which allow for discovering links between issues that span longer time frames. 

Martin Bachl, David Zaki, Andreas Schmidt, Christine Kunzmann
Living Documents as a Collaboration and Knowledge Maturing Platform
In: International Conference on Knowledge Management (I-KNOW 2014), ACM, 2014