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Announcement: Literacy Studies

Research into the nature, varieties, and social forms of literacy, past or present, print- or media-based.

Announcement: Hardware Innovations

Included in this category of Objects for Study are hardware inventions or devices that bear thinking about for their possible impact on online reading practices. Also included for historical perspective are some hardware innovations of past media revolutions (e.g., vellum, the codex book).

Announcement: Text Vizualization

Announcement: Tools for Online Reading

Announcement: Related Projects & Centers

Announcement: 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.

Announcement: Social Computing Working Group » Objects for Study

Objects of interest bearing on the relation between recent networked reading technologies/practices (e.g., email, blogging, text-messaging, instant-messaging, open tagging or editing, new portable digital devices) and the formation and conduct of social groups. Another way to phrase this topic is “collective reading” in the age of the network.

Announcement: New Approaches to Reading Print Texts

Announcement: All Objects for Study

Cumulative list of “objects for study” in the Transliteracies Research Clearinghouse, sorted chronologically by date of entry with the most recent first.

Announcement: History of Reading Working Group » Objects for Study

Interesting historical objects that bear on the current exploration of online reading practices, where “objects” refers to the equivalents of hardware, software, protocol, media, design, and usage conventions of the past—with their attendant psychological, social, and cultural implications.

The “history of the book,” “history of print culture,” and history of “oral culture” fields have witnessed vigorous growth in recent years as a historical extension of the contemporary focus on media and technology.

Announcement: Research Reports (By Posting Date)

Research reports focus on high-priority items in “Objects for Study.” Reports are written in a standard format designed both to synopsize the topic and to offer a preliminary evaluation of the opportunities it suggests for Transliteracies’s goal of improving online reading.

ConceptVISTA


Summary

ConceptVISTA is a free software created through the collaboration of researchers at the Geographic Visualization Science, Technology and Applications Center (GeoVISTA) at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Southampton, University of Leeds, and UC Santa Barbara. Using the priniciples of the semantic web, ConceptVISTA is a browser for mapping of concepts, teaching objects, and their related contexts in a way that “allows users to define and link concepts and resources pertaining to a conceptual domain.”1 It is designed to provide a rigorous user-based environment that allows users to add, view, and manage information and related to concepts and resources, primarily for pedagogical purposes through a web browser. Using the Web Ontology Langauge (OWL)2, it is based on the semantic web, and can also be used to import and organize outside ontologies.

(more…)

SNAC

Research Report by Lindsay Thomas

Related Categories: Search & Data Mining Innovations | Online Knowledge Bases | Social Networking Systems

Summary:

The goal of the Social Networks and Archival Contexts Project (SNAC) is to rethink the ways in which primary humanities resources are described and accessed. A collaborative project from the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia, the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley, and the California Digital Library, SNAC uses the new standard Encoded Archival Context — Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF) to “unlock” the descriptions of the creators of archives from the records they have created. The project aims to create open-source tools, not yet released, that allow archivists to separate the process of describing people from that of describing records and to build a prototype online platform, released in December 2010 and currently in alpha stage, that links descriptions of people to one another and to descriptions of a wide variety of resources. The project received $348,000 over two years starting in May 2010 from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the project team is directed by Daniel Pitti and Worthy Martin and also includes Ray Larson, Brian Tingle, Adrian Turner, and Krishna Janakiraman [i].

(more…)

Visualization Ecologies: RoSE Research Paper


“Visualization Ecologies: RoSE Research Paper” by Lilly Nguyen.

About the Author: Lilly Nguyen is a PhD candidate in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA. Her research interests explore cultural dynamics of knowledge circulation in postcolonial contexts. She is especially interested in the moral economies of software and methodological questions of data representation and its narratives. She is currently writing her dissertation on the modes of hybridity that emerge through the encounter between free and open source software and pirated software in Vietnam. She previously received her bachelor’s degree in Political Economy from UC Berkeley and her master’s degree in Media and Communications from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Transliteracies Research Paper PDF Version PDF version of the research report.


I. Introduction

The overarching goal for this visualization research paper was to make recommendations for future visualization strategies. Based on conversations with RoSE colleagues, colleagues at UCLA, and others in the digital media research community, this report provides an overview of three types of visualization strategies: network mapping, poetics and composite portraitures, and tagging. While these three are neither mutually exclusive nor exhaustive approaches to visualization, they collectively represent a range of approaches that are feasible to implement. Additionally, these three may cohere into a kind of visualization ecology and initiate discussion for future strategies and prioritization for visualization development. (more…)

Narrative as Metadata


Research Report by Eric Chuk

(created 3/17/10)


Related Categories:

Summary:

We have seen RoSE grow into a linked collection of references to documents and people of various eras, and we know intuitively that each of these entities, living or not, has a story, has significance. Or more precisely, we can study and ascribe meaning to them separately and in clusters. Doing so might also be called a form of storytelling, or making sense of the data by tracing a certain vantage point or line of inquiry. The very acts of telling and seeing have deep ties to narratology. (more…)

Zotero


Summary:

Zotero is an information manager that, as an extension for Firefox, facilitates storing citation information, clipping, and sorting research material on the web. Funded by the United States Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Zotero is a product of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. The public beta version of Zotero 1.0 launched on October 5, 2006, while the most recent version went live in May 2009.

(more…)

WorldCat Identities


Summary:

In 2007, WorldCat, the union catalog of some 71,000 libraries that participate in the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), implemented WorldCat Identities, which provides a summary page for every name in WorldCat. WorldCat currently includes over 30 million names of authors, filmmakers, fictional characters, actors, and other subjects of published works. The project team, led by Thomas Hickey, included Ralph LeVan, Tom Dehn, and Jenny Toves. It is currently in its Beta stage.

(more…)

Freebase


Research Report by Renee Hudson

(created 1/30/2010; version 1.0)

Related Categories: Social Networking Systems | Tools for Analyzing Social Networks| Online Knowledge Bases | Text Visualization


Summary:

On March 9, 2007, Metaweb Technologies unveiled Freebase.com, an open database that pulls information from public sources like Wikipedia, MusicBrainz, Netflix, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Like a wiki, Freebase also allows users to add their own content to contribute to the knowledge base of the website. However, unlike search engines that point a user toward a list of websites, Freebase connects users with clusters of information that emphasize relationships among pieces of data.

(more…)

MediaCommons


Summary:

MediaCommons is a project led by Kathleen Fitzpatrick and Avi Santo currently in development at USC as part of the Institute for the Future of the Book.  The project is a network for media scholars and students, providing access to scholarship beyond traditional peer-reviewed journals in the form of wikis, blogs, journals, and other digital media.  A major goal of the project is to re-imagine the scholarly press as a social network through which scholars can, via the affordances of digital network technologies, produce new knowledge about their specific fields.  As it stands, MediaCommons also has two projects in development, In Media Res and MediaCommonsPress.

(more…)

Academia.edu


Research Report by Renee Hudson

(created 11/20/09)

Related Categories:

Summary:
Richard Price, who recently earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy at All Souls College, Oxford, launched Academia.edu on September 16, 2008. The website seeks to answer the question “Who’s researching what?” by taking a social networking approach to academic relationships. Academia.edu illustrates these relationships as a genealogy in which users are grouped by university, then department, then their position within their department. Users add content based on their research, including what papers they have written, their research interests, and their advisors.

Description:
Academia.edu uses a tree-like genealogical structure to organize academic relationships. Colleges and Universities are listed in a row along the top of the page – clicking the background and dragging it left or right allows a user to scroll through other universities. Using the search box in the middle of the page, a user finds their college or university and, if the school is not found, adds it to the list of universities and colleges. Once the user finds his or her university, s/he will see departments organized alphabetically on a tree that stems from his or her university. The user then locates his or her department or adds the department if it is not already part of the tree. (more…)

A Comparison of Development Platforms for Social Network Data Visualizations

Research Report by Salman Bakht
(created 10/22/09)

A Comparison of Development Platforms for Social Network Data Visualizations

This report explores several software development platforms that may be used in developing web-based data visualizations. This report particularly focuses on comparing the suitability of these platforms for developing dynamic social network and document visualizations for ProSE (Professional Social Environment), the social network environment developed by the Bluesky Group of the Transliteracies Project. Adobe Flash (www.adobe.com/products/flash), Adobe Flex (www.adobe.com/products/flex), OpenLaszlo (www.openlaszlo.org), and Processing (www.processing.org) are examined herein. These platforms are first described in general terms in the Overview section, and then they are compared in terms of several factors, such as licensing and cost, accessibility, and ability to interface with databases. (more…)

Document Database Integration for the Professional Social Environment (ProSE)


Research Report by Salman Bakht

(created 10/6/09)

Document Database Integration for the Professional

Social Environment (ProSE)

ProSE (Professional Social Environment) is a social network environment developed by the Bluesky Group of the Transliteracies Project. While online reading interfaces such as Professional Reading Environment (PReE) being developed by the Electronic Textual Cultures Laboratory (ETCL) provide sophisticated access to data derived from documents in a professional or scholarly field, ProSE provides access to the social network connected the field. ProSE models social networks in a way that seamlessly combines professional readers and writers, both contemporary and historical. Consequently, ProSE is designed to populate its social network database from existing databases within one or more fields of study to supplement user-created entries. This report describes the following databases, which may be integrated into ProSE:


  • English Broadside Ballad Archive (EBBA): a database of seventeenth-century broadside ballads, created by the Early Modern Center at UC Santa Barbara.

  • Early English Books Online (EEBO): a database of text images from 1475-1600.

  • Early English Books Online-Text Creation Partnership (EEBO-TCP): coding of the full text 25,000 works in EEBO.

  • The Renaissance English Knowledgebase (REKn): a database developed at ETCL consisting of primary and secondary sources related to the Renaissance.

  • The Iter Bibliography: a bibliographical database for articles, essays, books, dissertations, encyclopedia entries, and reviews pertaining to the Middle Ages and Renaissance (400-1700).

(more…)

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

Social Book Cataloging: Humanizing Databases

“Social Book Cataloging: Humanizing Databases” by Renee Hudson and Kimberly Knight.

About the Authors:
Renee Hudson received her BA in English at Stanford University and is currently a PhD student in English at UCLA. She specializes in twentieth century American literature. Her research interests include media theory, terrorism, and political violence.

Kimberly Knight is a doctoral candidate in Literature at UC Santa Barbara. Her research interests include literary and cultural theory; digital and information culture; new media literature and art; and twentieth century literature. She is currently writing her dissertation on viral structures in contemporary literature and new media. Knight is a member of the development team of The Agrippa Files: an Online Archive of Agrippa (a book of the dead) and has served as the RA for the Literature.Culture.Media (formerly Transcriptions) Studio at UCSB. She is also the Flash designer and co-author of the Transliteracies History of the Book project, “In the Beginning Was the Word”.

Transliteracies Research Paper PDF Version PDF version of the research report.

Popular Social Book Cataloging Sites
GoodReads

Created in 2006, Goodreads is a social networking site designed for booklovers. Accounts are linked to users’ email accounts, so friends can be added directly from one’s email account. Users receive updates through email about their friends’ activity on Goodreads. In addition to connecting with a user’s email account, Goodreads is also an application on Facebook. All reading updates have to be done through the Goodreads website, but afterwards Facebook users can refresh their Goodreads box, which will then show updated thumbnails of which books a user is currently reading and has already read. Facebook friends are automatically added as friends on Goodreads if both users have a Goodreads account. (more…)

TimesPeople Transliteracies Research Report

The New York Times released TimesPeople on June 18, 2008 with the goal of creating a social network based on sharing content from the website. The June 18th launch, previously available only in Firefox and as a plug-in, became more widely available in September 2008 and allowed users additional features like the ability to sync their TimesPeople activity with their Facebook accounts. More recently, in February, The New York Times added the TimesPeople API to their current list of APIs to facilitate interaction with the Times outside of the website and to move one step closer to reimagining the future of the news through collaboration with developers.

Starter Links: TimesPeople Home Page

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Renee Hudson

TimesPeople

Research Report by Renee Hudson

(created 6/07/09; version 1.0)

Related Categories: Social Networking Systems | Collective Reading

Original Object for Study description

Summary:The New York Times released TimesPeople on June 18, 2008 with the goal of creating a social network based on sharing content from the website. The June 18th launch, previously available only in Firefox and as a plug-in, became more widely available in September 2008 and allowed users additional features like the ability to sync their TimesPeople activity with their Facebook accounts. More recently, in February, The New York Times added the TimesPeople API to their current list of APIs to facilitate interaction with the Times outside of the website and to move one step closer to reimagining the future of the news through collaboration with developers.

While TimesPeople markets itself as a social network, its stripped down style can be likened to something more along the lines of a tool than a network. Like Twitter, rather than having “friends” on the site, users follow other users and are followed in turn. Profiles are limited to handle, location, and image. Rather than creating content like a blog post or a Facebook note, users interact with the NYTimes.com website through their actions with Times created content. This content ranges from slideshows and articles users share with others to comments, reviews and ratings of movies and restaurants.

(more…)

Jazz as an Extended Metaphor for Social Computing

Research Report by Aaron McLeran
(created 5/17/09; version 1.0)

Related Categories: Social Networking Systems | Online Social Networking (Tools for Analyzing)

The Ontological Problem of Social Computing

At the UCSB’s Bluesky Social Computing Group, part of the University of California’s Transliteracies Project, we are tasked with the problem of researching the impact of social computing as a tool for collaborative research and to explore new ways in which social computing might be used in the future. We have been confronted with the problem of how to conceptualize what social computing means and what we mean when we talk about collaborative research. This issue is further exacerbated by the variety of social computing experiences; broadly considered, anything related to the internet, by definition, is a form of social computing. Recent efforts have focused on developing and applying a deeper understanding of ontological meaningfulness of concepts like a “person” and “relationships”. Most realizations of digital social networks have trivial and naive answers to these questions, a situation which fundamentally limits their usefulness. To this end, it has been suggested by Bluesky project leader and English department chair, Dr. Alan Liu, that new metaphors for social computing are needed.

(more…)

MONK Project


“MONK” by Salman Bakht, Pehr Hovey, and Kris McAbee.

(Created 4/23/09)

About the Authors:
Salman Bakht is a new media artist and composer currently studying in the Media Arts and Technology Program at UC Santa Barbara. Salman’s work focuses on the reuse and transformation of recorded audio using algorithmic composition methods. He is interested in creating art which analyzes, represents, and integrates with the physical environment and the media landscape.

Pehr Hovey is an algorithmic artist and researcher interested in the intersection of arts and technology. He is studying the mapping between audio and visual domains and how visual stimuli can be tightly integrated with the aural environment. He recently graduated with degrees in Computer Science and Computer Engineering from Washington University in Saint Louis and is currently a Masters student in Media Arts & Technology at UC-Santa Barbara.

Kris McAbee [Under Construction]

Transliteracies Research Paper PDF Version PDF version of the research report.


Summary
MONK, which stands for “Metadata Offer New Knowledge,” is a single digital environment of literary texts that endeavors to make “modern forms of text analysis and text mining accessible to humanities scholars” {1}. The metadata associated with any given document in the MONK environment ranges from data about individual words, to data about discursive organization, to bibliographic data. MONK offers the ability to read back and forth between these different levels of data and, therefore, to read as closely or as distantly as one wants. The current collection of texts in the MONK prototype consists of about 1200 works, including approximately 500 texts of various genres published between 1533 and 1625, alongside about 700 works of English and American fiction from about 1550 to 1923. Fundamentally, MONK assumes that operating through “coarse but consistent encodings across many texts in a heterogeneous document environment” offers significant scholarly benefit. The single environment that will bundle these operations for this large collection of texts will be housed at http://monkproject.org. (more…)

CommentPress Research Paper

“CommentPress” by Pehr Hovey and Renee Hudson.
(version 1.0; created 4/22/09)

About the Authors:
Pehr Hovey is an algorithmic artist and researcher interested in the intersection of arts and technology. He is studying the mapping between audio and visual domains and how visual stimuli can be tightly integrated with the aural environment. He recently graduated with degrees in Computer Science and Computer Engineering from Washington University in Saint Louis and is currently a Masters student in Media Arts & Technology at UC-Santa Barbara.

Renee Hudson received her BA in English at Stanford University and is currently a PhD student in English at UCLA. She specializes in twentieth century American literature. Her research interests include media theory, terrorism, and political violence.

Transliteracies Research Paper PDF Version PDF version of the research report.

Summary
The Institute for the Future of the Book officially launched CommentPress 1.0 on July 25, 2007 as a theme for WordPress. The initial project developed in 2006 when the Institute approached Mackenzie Wark about creating an online version of his book Gamer Theory. In order to emphasize conversation about the book, the Institute departed from the typical blogging structure by placing comments next to the text rather than directly beneath the text. The online project, called GAM3R 7H30RY was so successful that it sparked similar projects, among them Mitchell Stephen’s “Holy of Holies: On the Constituents of Emptiness,” and Lewis Lapham’s “The Iraq Study Group Report.” (more…)

Open Journal Systems


“Open Journal Systems” by Salman Bakht, Pehr Hovey, and Aaron McLeran.

(version 1.0; created 4/17/09)

About the Authors:

Salman Bakht: [Under Construction]

Pehr Hovey is an algorithmic artist and researcher interested in the intersection of arts and technology. He is studying the mapping between audio and visual domains and how visual stimuli can be tightly integrated with the aural environment. He recently graduated with degrees in Computer Science and Computer Engineering from Washington University in Saint Louis and is currently a Masters student in Media Arts & Technology at UC-Santa Barbara.

Aaron McLeran: [Under Construction]

Transliteracies Research Paper PDF Version PDF version of the research report.

Summary
Open Journal Systems (OJS) is an online management and publishing system for peer-reviewed journals developed by the Public Knowledge Project, a partnership among the University of British Columbia, the Simon Fraser University Library, the School of Education at Stanford University, and the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing at Simon Fraser University. Open Journal Systems’s open source software is designed with the purpose of “making open access publishing a viable option for more journals, as open access can increase a journal’s readership as well as its contribution to the public good on a global scale”{1} and provides tools to aid with every stage of the publishing process. Additionally, OJS offers a set of reading tools which can optionally be added to the journal. As of January 2009, OJS was currently used by over 2000 journals {2}. (more…)

Sophie

Summary:
Begun in July of 2004, Sophie is open source software that allows users to read and write multimedia documents in a networked environment. Originally funded by the Mellon Foundation, Sophie was also funded by the MacArthur Foundation as a project for the Institute for the Future of the Book at USC. Sophie is an outcropping of the Voyager Company’s work to make easy-to-use software (the last manifestation of which was TK3) for people to create e-books without the necessity of programming. The Mellon Foundation came together with the developers of TK3 with the idea of incorporating time-based events into the software, the result of which is Sophie.

Description:
In the fall of 2008, the Mellon Foundation awarded a grant to Astea Solutions to rewrite Sophie in Java. Some of the developers of Sophie, who are no longer working on the project, have begun OpenSophie, which aims to keep Sophie as it was originally imagined. In addition to providing the material on the original Sophie website, OpenSophie provides a server for Sophie books so that users can easily access and store Sophie books online.

Sophie and OpenSophie are guided by the mission statement of the Institute for the Future of the Book, which seeks to chronicle the shift from the printed page to the networked screen (http://www.futureofthebook.org/mission.html).

Sophie books incorporate audio, video, links, and timelines in addition to images and text. Users can download the original TK3 software as well as Sophie / Sophie Author to create their own books and Sophie Reader to read other Sophie books.

There are several tutorials and how-to movies for Sophie. By accessing the tutorials (which are opened in Sophie) and the videos, users learn how to use text and video in Sophie as well as incorporate video and audio into timelines within their books, among a variety of other functions.

The Sophie interface is comprised of four sections: workspace, the left flap, the right flap, and the bottom flap. Very generally, the left flap relates to the structure of the book, the right flap with content used for making a book, and the bottom flap for working with timelines (most of the time this flap is not visible).

The left flap contains five tabs: books, pages, tools, annotations, and timelines. The books tab allows users to see a list of all Sophie books s/he has downloaded, while pages allows the user to easily scroll through all the pages of a particular book by viewing thumbnails of each page. The tools tab has a search functionality and a spellchecker. The annotations tab gives users the ability to highlight text and make stickies and the timeline tab displays all timelines within the selected book.

The right flap has two tabs, one for components and the other for resources. The components tab shows three palettes: one for text frames, one for page templates, and the other for books templates. The resource tab has six palettes: images, audio, video, text, other, and metadata. The images palette allows users to scroll through all the images in a particular book, the audio palette provides a list of all audio files, and the video palette shows all the movies contained within the book. Note that new resources can be dragged into Sophie provided Sophie supports the format. The workspace allows for the creation of the book as dragging files onto the workspace will begin a new book.

To work with Sophie, users activate halos and HUDs (head-up display). For instance, clicking on an annotation will open the halos available for the annotation, which will provide the user the opportunity to choose a specific halo (a link halo, a character halo, etc.) to open a HUD in order to set that halo. For example, a user may select a link color halo to mark a link as already visited.

Research Context:
As a manifestation of the shift from the printed page to the networked screen, Sophie is a reading interface that allows readers and writers to make use of a variety of multimedia, thereby rethinking how books are constituted. Sophie emphasizes interactivity with the book and, while there are separate downloads for reading and writing, Sophie blurs the line between reader and author by encouraging users to create books that underscore the interpretation of other texts. For instance, one demo book aims to illustrate the influence of flamenco on Frederico Garcia Lorca’s poetry while another allows students to compare interpretations of Macbeth. Here, authorship is interpretation and the ability to incorporate rich media underscores this point.

Technical Analysis:
Sophie / OpenSophie 1.0.4 can be downloaded for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux. Tutorials make use of QuickTime, so users should either download QuickTime for Windows or Linux, or view the tutorials on an embedded page on the Sophie and OpenSophie websites.

Version 2.0, rewritten in Java, will support Adobe Flash and users will be able to embed and view embedded Sophie Books as applets on web pages.

Evaluation of Opportunities/Limitations for the Transliteracies Site:
Sophie and OpenSophie provide a unique opportunity for Transliteracies because they emphasize that in a digital age, reading a book does not mean simply looking at text and images. Reading constitutes looking at a variety of media and, with the creation of Sophie, it is now easier for any person to create a rich multimedia experience through the hybrid interface of page and screen. The History of Reading working group will no doubt find Sophie a valuable addition while the New Reading Interfaces working group will appreciate the incorporation of the screen into the page.

Sophie is also of interest to the Social Computing working group as the software highlights collective action through comments and annotations. This supports the creation of a living text that, while constantly changing, is improved through the ability of the collective to contribute to these objects.

Interestingly, while Sophie books can include an unlimited amount of information, all content is contained within the structure of a book, which allows for organization and a narrative trajectory (or even, multiple trajectories). This narrows the range of information that can become a part of the book by focusing the subject of the book to a particular set of topics.

Sophie complicates the relationship between reader and author by stressing reading and interpretation as authorship. Additionally, it foregrounds comparison as a narrative technique by giving users the opportunity to compare media to each other as well as to make comparisons within a particular medium. For example, a user could listen to a soliloquy in Hamlet and compare it with a staged representation of the same speech, or compare how different films have treated the same scene. In doing so, Sophie enables media specific analysis by juxtaposing media with each other to flesh out the content of the book.

As of this writing, one limitation of Sophie (and for Transliteracies) is that thus far it appears that all Sophie books serve some sort of educational purpose. This means that Transliteracies cannot currently see how an application like Sophie affects authorship and narrative construction. There is not currently a model of a book designed to tell a story by using multimedia; thus, Transliteracies cannot evaluate what the effect of this ability would be. Presumably, it would allow for a richer experience when reading a book; at the same time, it might require more than one author to execute successfully. Hopefully, with the continuation of Sophie on OpenSophie and the version 2.0 set to debut in the fall of 2009, there will be more opportunities to see Sophie’s effect on authorship and book creation.

Resources for Further Study:

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

The Lost Ring Alternate Reality Game Transliteracies Research Report

Find the Lost Ring is a multiplayer alternate reality game created to promote the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

“The Lost Ring was a global, multi-lingual alternate reality game that united players in a quest to recover ancient Olympic secrets. It centered around Ariadne, a lost Olympic athlete from a parallel universe.

Discreetly sponsored by McDonald’s, the experience engaged younger audiences who dislike overt marketing” (www.thelostring.com).

Starter Links: The Lost Ring Home Page

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Lindsay Brandon Hunter

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

World Without Oil (ARG)

Research Report by Lindsay Brandon Hunter
(created 9/11/08; version 1.0)

Related Categories: Alternative Interfaces | Collective Reading

Original Object for Study description

Summary: World Without Oil was an alternate reality game developed by Ken Eklund and Jane McGonigal, ITVS (Independent Television Service) Interactive and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Originally played between April 30 and June 1, 2007, World Without Oil was conceived as both an ARG and a “serious game,” in the sense of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars 2002 Serious Games Initiative. The game’s tag line–”Play it before you live it”–emphasized the what-if nature of the game: players were encouraged to explore what would change in their own realities in the event of a massive oil shortage. Game makers provided rough parameters for the in-game reality (the price of oil, fuel availability) as well as character content (blogs, videos), but the game was aggressively user-driven. The gamers’ task was to imagine the consequences of a massive oil crisis, communicate about their experience and explore creative strategies for dealing with the attendant difficulties.

(more…)

Find The Lost Ring (ARG)

Research Report by Lindsay Brandon Hunter
(created 8/13/08; version 1.0)

Related Categories: Alternative Interfaces | Collective Reading

Original Object for Study description

Summary: The Lost Ring is an alternate reality game developed by Jane McGonigal and San Francisco-based advertising agency AKQA in partnership with the International Olympics Coalition and the McDonald’s Corporation. Developed both to celebrate and to advertise the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the game is a massively multi-player, multi-national, intensely collaborative adventure in which players engage with a fictional game mythology through puzzle-solving and “real world” experiences. (more…)

The Lost Experience

Research Report by Renee Hudson
(created 06/03/08; version 1.0)

Related Categories: Alternative Interfaces | Collective Reading

Original Object for Study description

Summary:
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.” While the game itself is a multi-media experience, this report will focus on the textual elements that played a crucial role in the game. (more…)

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

Amazon Kindle

Summary:
On November 19, 2007, Amazon released their electronic reading device, the Amazon Kindle. Within five and a half hours of its release, the Kindle sold out. In the following months, customers frequently had to wait 5+ weeks before a Kindle was ready for shipment, though at the time of this writing, the Kindle is in stock and ready to go. The Kindle store boasts over 115,000 titles for download, from blogs to books to online newspapers, all of which are ready for download in less than a minute. The Kindle differentiates itself from other electronic readers by offering Internet access free of charge and not requiring additional software in order to use.

Description:
Launched November of 2007, the much anticipated Kindle features E Ink technology and easy online access to the Kindle Store where users can purchase books and subscribe to magazines, newspapers, and blogs for a fee. Because these texts are downloaded to the Kindle, they can easily be accessed offline. Moreover, Amazon keeps a copy of all purchases on each user’s Amazon account in addition to the copy on the Kindle. The Kindle is equipped with a headphone jack and allows users to download both audiobooks (though this must be done as a download to a computer then to the Kindle via USB cable) and MP3s. For another small fee, users can wirelessly send documents to their Kindle email address. The Kindle currently supports unprotected Microsoft Word, HTML, TXT, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, PRC and MOBI files. Though the PDF format is not fully supported at the time of this writing, the Kindle team is working on it. Alternatively, documents can be downloaded from a computer onto the Kindle using a USB connection.


Screen Grab of the Kindle Store page on Amazon.com

Users navigate books using buttons on either side of the Kindle to move to the next page or back to the previous page. The select wheel on the right hand side allows users to scroll up or down the cursor bar. For instance, should a user wish to highlight a selection of text s/he would use the select wheel to move to the line of text to be highlighted, then click the select wheel to mark that line. A box will open from which the user can either close, lookup a word using the dictionary that comes with the Kindle, add a highlight, or add a note. Selecting “add highlight” will mark the beginning line of the section to be highlighted. Another click to the appropriate line will complete the highlighted section. A qwerty keypad enables users to type in searches for texts in the Kindle store as well as specific phrases within texts already downloaded. For a given text, a user can easily look up all highlights and notes s/he has made to the text by choosing “my notes and marks” from the menu.

Pages within the Kindle are not numbered probably due to the fact that text size can be adjusted along a range of six different sizes. Because the screen is smaller than most book pages and text size varies according to one’s personal settings, users will often turn pages more quickly than in a typical book. However, after prolonged use with the Kindle, this aspect becomes rapidly unnoticeable. Additionally, the small size of the Kindle makes it less cumbersome to read over a long period of time than a typical book.

Navigating to a particular page (say in class or in a book club) can be challenging because of the lack of pagination. However, the Kindle makes navigation easier by allowing multiple bookmarks. A user can go to the menu and select “go to bookmark” to select from all their bookmarks. A handy trick for anyone using this in a classroom or professional setting would be to bookmark each chapter to allow for quicker navigation. Alternatively, a user can simply search for the phrase that begins the selection they are looking for. However, it should be noted that the delay between typing a letter on the keypad and it appearing on screen is longer than what one usually encounters with a keyboard.

Users can access the Internet to check email and search websites from their Kindle. Using the Kindle for such usage can be difficult because the interface does not appear to fully support web pages; consequently, pages are cluttered and difficult to navigate.

Research Context:
Because the Kindle is the latest manifestation of electronic readers, it is an object of interest for anyone interested in the development of reading interfaces, particularly as they stem from the printed page. With the goal of improving on printed books, the Kindle team at Amazon have created a number of features that reflect functionalities important to users / readers. Readers can highlight, search, add comments, and store documents on the device; all of these actions illustrate the way readers interface with texts while also demonstrating how this device streamlines the process.

Technical Analysis:
Like the Sony Reader, the Kindle uses E Ink technology in order to replicate the appearance of paper while eliminating the eye strain that other electronic displays cause. Electronic paper can be read from a variety of angles and in different lighting without the user suffering from glare or backlighting. Additionally, the technology allows for a display that minimizes power usage as power is only used to change pages, not maintain them.

The Kindle also utilizes Amazon Whispernet, which employs Sprint’s EVDO data network (the same technology used in cellular phones), to allow for wireless access to the Kindle Store. Unlike WiFi, users do not have to rely on hotspots in order to connect to the Internet. Moreover, the wireless service is free. Within seconds, they are online and able to download content from the Kindle Store.

The Kindle weighs in at a mere 10.3 ounces, features a six inch electronic paper display, and is 7.5” x 5.3” x 0.7.” Its resolution is 600×800 pixels at 167 ppi, with a 4-level gray scale.

The battery life depends on usage. Amazon estimates that users can expect to recharge (which takes no more than two hours) every other day if the wireless is left on, and about once a week if the wireless is kept off. Strangely, if the Kindle has not been used in a while, it needs to be recharged again before it will turn on.

The Kindle can store over 200 books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs. It has an SD memory card slot, which would allow users to store even more material.

There are not any system requirements as the Kindle does not need to sync to a computer, though users can use the USB cable that comes with it to hook up to their computers, similar to a flash drive.

Evaluation of Opportunities/Limitations for the Transliteracies Topic:
As the latest manifestation of the attempt to create an electronic device for reading, the Amazon Kindle is part of a lineage of electronic readers that seek to improve upon the technology of a typical book. Like electronic readers before it, rather than re-imagining the book, it attempts to improve on the model of the book by building on electronic capabilities. In terms of the success of the Kindle (aside from Amazon’s sales figures), and other readers like it, it is interesting to note that they have yet to catch up to the ubiquity of the book.

Fundamentally, the Kindle seeks to replicate the experience of reading a book, which does little to change the actual interface of the device. Amazon sought to make the Kindle “as easy to read as your favorite book,” a statement that testifies to the relatively small differences between the screen of the Kindle and the page of the book. Despite this similarity, by virtue of its being an electronic device, the Kindle allows users capabilities and conveniences that books are not able to provide. One such convenience is the Kindle’s ability to hold several texts on one device, making it ideal for traveling or any situation that requires one to save space by taking a limited amount of reading material. The Kindle is an excellent research tool since it allows for functions that are absent from books. The main example of this is the search capability. A user seeking to compare the use of a particular word between two texts, for example, can do so much faster than if s/he were to do it by going through each book individually.

The Video Demonstration for the Kindle claims to change how one reads. While this is not evident from certain functionalities like highlighting and adding notes (all actions that readers often do), it is true in terms of other functionalities like clipping and searching the text. Moreover, the Kindle changes when and where one reads. For instance, for readers like college students who often read with a pen in hand, reading on the road is often difficult if one attempts to underline and make notes. The Kindle streamlines this process, allowing users to read and annotate in a variety of settings. The Kindle holds the user’s place in each reading item automatically, making finding one’s place a needless concern. This functionality, combined with the ability to dog-ear pages or even highlight where one left off makes it even easier to get “into” the book since users do not have to waste time searching for where they left off.

Simply because the Kindle team insists on having tools like highlighting, clipping, etc., they necessarily change the reader’s relationship to the text. While a person picking up a book may choose to read the book and leave it at that, the Kindle user, aware of the tools, knows that reading the book straight through is a possibility, but one among many other options. The Kindle user is encouraged to look up words, search for phrases; in other words s/he is expected to go beyond the basic practice of reading.

Resources for Further Study:

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