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Date: Mon, 10 Apr 95 18:12 PDT
From: Jim Andrews
Subject: The Seven by Nine Squares

Dear Florian,

I had read your writing in "The Elective Affinities". This is more or less what I took to be the main "manual" concerning your internent. So I have some idea of what you desire for the 'book' or tree(s). A rich text, Florian, deserving of further reading. It will attract, I hope, interest from writers with vision. The graphics are intriguing also.

Of course, you will receive a good deal of dross. Perhaps the dross can eventually be dropped. Or will the dross simply be shuttled to the remote ends of the tree? It will be interesting to see what you do as the editor. You are dependent on receiving interesting contributions. I stopped doing a literary magazine here in Victoria after a while because I didn't think I'd get the sort of material that would justify continuing.

A magazine editor has to pump out issue after issue, perhaps slowly increasing the quality (as assessed by the editor) of the rag. You are freed, somewhat, from that dismal prospect. Moreover, your project isn't really a magazine at all, but an ongoing world-wide collaboration in fable concerning The Seven by Nine Squares. In part. What else? Many other things, no doubt, besides fable.

Whenever I get the time and inspiration to write something else for your project, I will take more care to play off the other pieces I've read and enjoyed in The Squares. Links of a non-tech variety. Of course, there are parts about which I am indifferent (Al Ackerman's writing, for instance). I would be unlikely to forge thematic links to his work. Others may, however. So that the project, if viewed as an upsidedown tree, will probably develop several primary trunks. What a literary shape! Very intriguing.

I once wrote a little program that asked the user to think of an animal. The program would then ask the user a series of questions to which the user would answer yes or no. "Is it a mammal?", etc. Eventually the program would guess a particular animal (the leaves of the tree were animals, and the internal nodes were questions concerning types and characteristics of animals). I found that it was important to have the first few questions generic enough to more or less keep splitting the class of animals in two so that the tree wasn't too deep. And if it didn't end up guessing correctly, it would 'learn' the appropriate question to ask and also learn the new animal. An elementary and even boring program, but the reason I mention it is because the prospect you face of editing an interconnected tree (in both the technical and non-technical sense) is fascinating. A literary gardener. Tree pruning, grafting, etc.

Magazines disappear from the News stands. The Seven by Nine Squares, however, is ongoing as an evolving shape.