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New Reading Interfaces Working Group » Objects for Study

Interesting objects bearing on digital reading interfaces, especially where text is adapting (and vice versa) to networked and multimedia communication environments. Included are innovations in such fields as human factors inferface research (HFI), text-encoding, text visualization and art, etc.

MediaCommons

A “digital scholarly network,” MediaCommons focuses on bringing academic work into wide circulation for discussion and on refiguring the processes of academic publishing. Projects of MediaCommons include In Media Res and the MediaCommons Press.

“MediaCommons, a project-in-development with support from the Institute for the Future of the Book (part of the Annenberg Center for Communication at USC) and the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a network in which scholars, students, and other interested members of the public can help to shift the focus of scholarship back to the circulation of discourse. This network is community-driven, responding flexibly to the needs and desires of its users. It will also be multi-nodal, providing access to a wide range of intellectual writing and media production, including forms such as blogs, wikis, and journals, as well as digitally networked scholarly monographs. Larger-scale publishing projects are being developed with an editorial board that will also function as stewards of the larger network.”

Starter Links: MediaCommons | In Media Res| MediaCommons Press | Institute for the Future of the Book

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Christopher Hagenagh

Sophie Transliteracies Research Report

Sophie is an open-source multimedia authoring software.

“Sophie’s goal is to open up the world of multimedia authoring to a wide range of people and institutions and in so doing, redefine the notion of a book or academic paper to include both rich media and mechanisms for reader feedback and conversation” (http://sophieproject.cntv.usc.edu/)

Starter Links: Sophie Project Home Page | Sophie Blog

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Renee Hudson

World Without Oil Alternate Reality Game Transliteracies Research Report

“A massively collaborative imagining of the first 32 weeks of a global oil crisis” (worldwithoutoil.org).

“WORLD WITHOUT OIL is a serious game for the public good. WWO invited people from all walks of life to contribute “collective imagination” to confront a real-world issue: the risk our unbridled thirst for oil poses to our economy, climate and quality of life. It’s a milestone in the quest to use games as democratic, collaborative platforms for exploring possible futures and sparking future-changing action. WWO set the model for using a hot net-native storytelling method (‘alternate reality’) to meet civic and educational goals. Best of all, it was compellingly fun” (worldwithoutoil.org).

Starter Links: World Without Oil Home Page | ITVS Interactive

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Lindsay Brandon Hunter

The Lost Experience Transliteracies Research Report

Between seasons two and three of the television show Lost, ABC launched “The Lost Experience,” an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) designed to maintain viewer interest in the show. “The Lost Experience,” like many ARGs, incorporated a variety of media into its implementation. Players were encouraged to watch commercials that aired during the last episodes of season two in order to be notified of relevant websites that would provide clues to the game. In addition to websites, users watched mini-movies, read advertisements, and a tie-in novel. They were also directed towards recordings and podcasts over the course of “The Lost Experience.”

Starter Links: Interview with creators | Wikipedia article | Lostpedia

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Renee Hudson

Amazon Kindle Transliteracies Research Report

“Three years ago, we set out to design and build an entirely new class of device—a convenient, portable reading device with the ability to wirelessly download books, blogs, magazines, and newspapers. The result is Amazon Kindle.

We designed Kindle to provide an exceptional reading experience. Thanks to electronic paper, a revolutionary new display technology, reading Kindle’s screen is as sharp and natural as reading ink on paper—and nothing like the strain and glare of a computer screen. Kindle is also easy on the fingertips. It never becomes hot and is designed for ambidextrous use so both “lefties” and “righties” can read comfortably at any angle for long periods of time.

We wanted Kindle to be completely mobile and simple to use for everyone, so we made it wireless. No PC and no syncing needed. Using the same 3G network as advanced cell phones, we deliver your content using our own wireless delivery system, Amazon Whispernet. Unlike WiFi, you’ll never need to locate a hotspot. There are no confusing service plans, yearly contracts, or monthly wireless bills—we take care of the hassles so you can just read.

With Whispernet, you can be anywhere, think of a book, and get it in one minute. Similarly, your content automatically comes to you, wherever you are. Newspaper subscriptions are delivered wirelessly each morning. Most magazines arrive before they hit newsstands. Haven’t read the book for tomorrow night’s book club? Get it in a minute. Finished your book in the airport? Download the sequel while you board the plane. Whether you’re in the mood for something serious or hilarious, lighthearted or studious, Kindle delivers your spontaneous reading choices on demand.

And because we know you can’t judge a book by its cover, Kindle lets you download and read the beginning of books for free. This way, you can try it out—if you like it, simply buy and download with 1-Click, right from your Kindle, and continue reading. Want to try a newspaper as well? All newspaper subscriptions start with a risk-free two-week trial.

Kindle’s paperback size and expandable memory let you travel light with your library. With the freedom to download what you want, when you want, we hope you’ll never again find yourself stuck without a great read.” (Amazon.com)

Starter Links: The Kindle on Amazon.com | Wikipedia article on the Kindle

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Renee Hudson

Google Notebook

Google Notebook is an annotation tool that allows users to clip excerpts of text or image from the web, comment upon them, tag them, and organize them into notebooks. Notebooks can be shared with other users or published as public web pages. The user may also use the notebook to type in their own notes.

Text in notebooks can be formatted using a rich-text editor, allowing the easy addition of links, formatting, etc. Notes can be re-organized via drag-and-drop and can be sorted according to tags. Browser extensions for Internet Explorer and Firefox allow access to notebooks from a corner of the browser window and allow the user to add content to a notebook with just a right mouse-click.

Starter Links: Google Notebook Tour | Announcement on Google Blog

CommentPress Transliteracies Research Report

Developed by the Institute for the Future of the Book, CommentPress “is an open source theme for the WordPress blogging engine that allows readers to comment paragraph by paragraph in the margins of a text. Annotate, gloss, workshop, debate: with CommentPress you can do all of these things on a finer-grained level, turning a document into a conversation. It can be applied to a fixed document (paper/essay/book etc.) or to a running blog.” (CommentPress home page)

Starter Links: CommentPress home page | Institute for the Future of the Book | Examples of CommentPress in action

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Kim Knight

Google’s OpenSocial

“The web is more interesting when you can build apps that easily interact with your friends and colleagues. But with the trend towards more social applications also comes a growing list of site-specific APIs that developers must learn.

OpenSocial provides a common set of APIs for social applications across multiple websites. With standard JavaScript and HTML, developers can create apps that access a social network’s friends and update feeds.

Common APIs mean you have less to learn to build for multiple websites. OpenSocial is currently being developed by Google in conjunction with members of the web community. The ultimate goal is for any social website to be able to implement the APIs and host 3rd party social applications. There are many websites implementing OpenSocial, including Engage.com, Friendster, hi5, Hyves, imeem, LinkedIn, MySpace, Ning, Oracle, orkut, Plaxo, Salesforce.com, Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo, and XING.” (OpenSocial home page)

Starter Links: Video of highlights from the OpenSocial rollout event: Google Campfire One | OpenSocial home page | OpenSocial Getting Started Guide | Sample applications developed with the OpenSocial APIs

KNFB Readers for the Visually Impaired

The KNFB Classic Reader was developed by Ray Kurzweil in association with the National Federation of the Blind and Envision Technology. About the size of a PDA, the reader uses a camera to take pictures of text and and using text-to-speech technology, reads the content aloud. The user can store information for future reference and transfer the information to a computer.

The company also offers a mobile reader for the Nokia N82 phone. In addition to the reader functions, users can access the phone and PDA functions of the device.

Starter Links: KNFB Announcement on Envision’s web site | A Washington Business Journal article detailing plans to release a cell-phone based reader | KNFB Reading Technology Inc. home page | Classic Reader page on KNFB web site | Mobile Reader on KNFB web site

History Flow

History Flow is a tool created by Fernanda Viegas and Martin Wattenburg as part of the IBM Collaborative User Experience Research Group. Viegas’ and Wattenburg’s creation visualizes “dynamic, evolving documents and the interactions of multiple collaborating authors. In its current implementation, history flow is being used to visualize the evolutionary history of wiki* pages on Wikipedia” (history flow home page). The tool works by color coding edits according to the user who makes the changes. The result is a richly detailed visual overview of the life of a page. History Flow’s outputs allow visual analysis of issues critical to the credibility of Wikipedia, such as collaboration, vandalism, edit wars, etc.

Starter Links: History Flow home page | IBM Collaborative User Experience home page | Wikipedia

Zoomable Map Image Collection Sensemaking System (ZooMICSS): The Katrina/Rita Context

Zoomable Map Image Collection Sensemaking System (ZooMICSS), recombines and organizes photos of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath.

Developed by the Interface Ecology Lab at Texas A&M, the Zoomable Map Image Collection Sensemaking System (ZooMICSS) enacts Participant Action Research (the development of technology with rather than for the New Orleans community) to visualize user photos of the hurricane’s effects. The project was conceived in response to the drastic growth of locative multimedia. Photographs are organized both geographically and according to different visual and semantic connections between them. Users of the ZooMICSS system are able to compare destruction and rebuilding across the city and to browse the images in a meaningful way. The creators conceptualize the project as a collective visual history and a tool for residents to retell the stories of the event.

Starter Links: ZooMICSS Project Site | combinFormation | Interface Ecology Website (Texase A&M)

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Nicole Satrosielski

CollageMachine/combinFormation

Web-recombiner program that applies Andruid Kerne’s theory of “interface ecology.”

Created by Andruid Kerne and the Interface Ecology Lab at Texas A&M, CollageMachine allows users to explore a recombinant information space, where different web elements surface, blend, and adapt to their browsing. The program automatically seeks out and imports media elements of interest and continuously streams these elements into the user’s field of view. Thus, the user is able to locate information and to generate conceptual links that may not have been possible with a traditional web browser. CollageMachine has been further developed in the Interface Ecology Lab as combinFormation, an agent-driven tool that can be used online to build collage-style combinations of visual and textual scraps from web sites, allowing the user then rearrange and reprioritize the found-data to facilitate the discovery of relations.

Starter Links: Andruid Kerne’s home page | combinFormation | Interface Ecology Website (Texase A&M)

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Nicole Satrosielski

Peter Cho, “Typotopo”Transliteracies Research Report

Typotopo is a website that collects the typographical and topographical work of Peter Cho.

This site represents the space where typography and topography overlap: explorations of type in virtual environments, experiments in mapping, and innovations in textual display. TYPOTOPO examines how the act of reading evolves when letters and words, viewed both as text and image, are placed in interactive and dynamic environments. TYPOTOPO explores typographic information spaces and the possibilities for playful, expressive letterforms (Typotopo).

Starter Links: Typotopo | Peter Cho’s home page

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Kate Marshall

Intelligent Fridge Magnets

Modeled after the various types of refrigerator poetry magnets, the Viktoria Institute’s intelligent fridge magnets are aware of the other magnets surrounding them. The magnets can categorize the type of word (noun, verb, etc.) that is shown on each 16-character lcd display and will learn grammar rules by evaluating relationships between the magnets that are placed next to each other. Once they learn grammar rules, the magnets can substitute words from the same category to make new sentences.

Starter Links: Viktoria Institute website | Article on the Australian Broadcasting Company website

Tag Crowd

A tool that allows users to create tag clouds of any text.

“When we look at a tag cloud, we see not only a richly informative, beautiful image that communicates much in a single glance. We see a whole new approach to text.

Potential uses for tag clouds extend far outside the online realm: as topic summaries for written works, as name tags for conferences, as resumes in a single glance, as analyses for survey data, as visual poetry; the list goes on. ” (TagCrowd website).

Starter Links: TagCrowd | Post on SmartMobs.com

agoraXchange-Make the Game Change the World

“agoraXchange is an online community for designing a massive multi-player global politics game challenging the violence and inequality of our present political system. Phase I was launched as a commission for the Tate Online on 15 March 2004 and now contains a database of ideas for the rules, game environment, and site look-and-feel.”

agoraXchange.net

Following is a quote from the game manifesto:

“Our present political institutions are not natural or inevitable, but an experiment gone awry, a utopia for the paranoid. We seek collaborators for bringing an end to the system of nation-states, the demise of rules rendering us passive objects tied to identities and locations given at birth. We call on all communities of and for the imagination, for creative thinkers and visionaries, including citizens, activists, artists, scholars, political leaders, and the stateless, to eliminate those laws requiring us to live and be seen largely as vessels for ancestral identities. We seek to develop in agoraXchange and elsewhere laws that will privilege creativity, empathy, and freedom.”

Self Organizing Maps

“The SOM is an algorithm used to visualize and interpret large high-dimensional data sets. Typical applications are visualization of process states or financial results by representing the central dependencies within the data on the map.

The map consists of a regular grid of processing units, “neurons”. A model of some multidimensional observation, eventually a vector consisting of features, is associated with each unit. The map attempts to represent all the available observations with optimal accuracy using a restricted set of models. At the same time the models become ordered on the grid so that similar models are close to each other and dissimilar models far from each other.”
http://www.cis.hut.fi/research/som-research/som.shtml

The map that can be seen through the following link is a great application of the SOM idea made by Andre Skupin:

In Terms of Geography

“Description of Content:
Visualization of the geographic knowledge domain based on more than 22,000 conference abstracts submitted to the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers (1993-2002). Landscape features express the degree of topical focus, with elevated areas corresponding to more well-defined, topical regions and low-lying areas corresponding to a mingling of various topics. Dominant terms are used as labels for topical regions.
Description of Unique Features:
The most unique aspect of this visualization is its combination of intense computation with geographic metaphors and cartographic design considerations. From a computational perspective, the use of a self-organizing map consisting of a large number of neurons (10,000) is fairly unique. The final map presented here aims to explore how far we can go in the design of map-like information visualizations. Its use of a range of label sizes (from very large to very small) on a large-format map and the omission of a legend are aimed at challenging traditional notions of interactivity, by encouraging viewers to vary their distance from the map and instigating discussion.”

LibraryThingTransliteracies Research Report

A website that allows users to catalogue their personal libraries.

“LibraryThing is an online service to help people catalog their books easily. You can access your catalog from anywhere—even on your mobile phone. Because everyone catalogs together, LibraryThing also connects people with the same books, comes up with suggestions for what to read next, and so forth” (LibraryThing website).

Starter Links: LibraryThing website

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Kim Knight

The Codex Series

“The Codex series is an ongoing cd-rom project that consists of four projects by four different talents in the digital medium exploring narrative, design and the interactive. Somewhere between a compilation and a digital fanzine, The Codex Series is a laboratory, something to share and talk about” (The Codex Series website).

Starter Links: The Codex Series website

SnOil

SnOil was conceived and designed in 2005 by Martin Frey, a student in a digital media class entitled “Sensitive Skins” at the Berlin University of the Arts.

SnOil uses electromagnets and ferrofluid to present viewers with with a liquid reading surface upon which words appear and disappear, leaving no trace behind. In addition to to being a reading interface, SnOil can also be programmed for simple interactive games.

Starter Links: Project page at the Berlin University of the Arts | A video demo of SnOil

Connexions

An online knowledge base for building courses and textbooks.

“For authors and instructors worldwide, Connexions combines free authoring, course building, and publishing tools with an open-access content repository (see cnx.org). For students, it provides modular, interactive courses that are freely accessible. In Connexions, an author can create “modules” of information that are small documents intended to communicate a concept, a procedure, or a set of questions. String some modules together, and you have a web course or textbook, or weave a curriculum entirely of your choosing. Connexions directly challenges the current notion of a “textbook” by exploding it and asking different people to create its parts in a semi-structured but re-configurable manner, rather than having a single Maestro do it all and take all the credit. All Connexions content is open-licensed using the Creative Commons attribution license. All Connexions tools are free and open source.” (Connexions Overview .pdf file)

Starter Links:
Connexions | Overview document

BuddyBuzz

BuddyBuzz, developed by Stanford University’s Persuasive Technology Lab, is an e-reader for use with mobile phones.

“BuddyBuzz is the fastest way to read text on a mobile phone. With BuddyBuzz you get access to thousands of articles.

Read articles from CNET, Reuters, and select blogs, like Slashdot, Ross Mayfield, and Robert Scoble. Rate what you read and BuddyBuzz will predict what articles you like.

Upload articles to your personal BuzzBox for your own reading and share things you’ve written with any BuddyBuzz user.” (BuddyBuzz website)

Starter Links:
BuddyBuzz | Persuasive Technology Lab

MyStickies

A way of bookmarking that goes beyond storing the site name and URL, MyStickies allows users to take notes and store “stickies” on web pages all over the web. Similar to del.icio.us and Digg, MyStickies stores the user’s information online so it may be accessed from any computer around the world. MyStickies works through a Firefox extension or a bookmarklet. Extensions are currently in the works for Internet Explorer and Safari.

Starter Links: Lifehacker post | MyStickies website

BiblioRoll

“BiblioRoll is a device for the reading activity in ubiquitous computing environment. BiblioRoll is shaped cylindrical with scroll interaction and a display divided into three, which suggests a different appearance from traditional books. With this device, users can read by combining or comparing with the information from the books they have or from the ones spread everywhere. In addition, it is possible to put meta-data on them. BiblioRoll enables to treat
these operations easily in a hand. Therefore, it makes users experience a totally different way of reading from traditional books or e-books. Using BiblioRoll gives not only an experience of reading but a new experience of gaining knowledge.” (Okude Laboratory website)

Starter Links: Okude Laboratory website | BiblioRoll concept page

HP’s Misto Coffee Table PC

“Misto is a coffee table with a large touch-screen display built into the top of the table. The idea is to allow a group to congregate around the table and share pictures, play board games, or peruse a map, said Pere Obrador, project manager in HP’s imaging technology department.” (CNet News.com)

Starter Links: CNet article | Gizmodo post |

PCs for Poets

An Ultra Mobile Personal Computer (UMPC), the PC for Poets was designed by Crispin Jones. With the goal of marrying technology and traditional craftmanship, Jones designed the PC for Poets as both a visual and tactile artifact. It is modeled after traditional Japanese writing boxes, with all surfaces receiving equal design attention. Both the top and bottom are designed to be aesthetically and tactilely appealing and to engage the attention of those surrounding the PC user. The interface has no buttons or keyboard and is operated solely using tablet technology.

Starter Links: The project page at Mr. Jones’ website | we make money not art writeup | UMPC.com

Wacom’s Penabled Pens

Wacom’s Penabled pens replace many standard tablet PC pens. Cordless and battery-free, Wacom’s Penabled technology is pressure sensitive and reacts to a range of pressures. The pen additionally has an erase feature.

Starter Links: Wacom Penabled website

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