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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.

Announcement: Transliteracies Research Clearinghouse

To educate itself and others about recent research developments relevant to the problem of online reading, Transliteracies is creating a research Clearinghouse. Sections of the Clearinghouse include: Objects for Study, Research Reports, Research Papers, Gallery, Glossary, and Bibliography.

Announcement: New Reading Interfaces Working Group

Leader: Rita Raley

Group Members: Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Michael Mateas, Warren Sack, Peter Krapp, Kim Knight, William Huber, Kate Marshall, Irene Chien, Brooke Belisle, Ayhan Aytes, Lisa Swanstrom, Nicole Starosielski, Mike Treanor, Lindsay Brandon Hunter, Renee Hudson, Katie Kelp-Stebbins

This working group focuses on reading in the context of networked and multimedia communication environments. Some of our topics include text visualizations, alternative interfaces, immersive or VR environments for text.

Announcement: Working Groups

Researchers in the Transliteracies Project participate in one or more working groups that meet by teleconference and in occasional face-to-face workshops. Workgroups define research areas, help produce reports for the project clearinghouse, and draft white papers intended for the final project goal of creating a framework for understanding and improving online reading.

Announcement: About

Announcement: Credits

Announcement: Contact Information

Announcement: Project Members

Currently, the Project Group includes University of California scholars. In the future, the group may also include researchers from other universities or affiliate with research programs elsewhere.

Principal Investigator: Alan Liu.

Potential Research Reports

The following people have expressed tentative interest in these areas and objects for study—and perhaps in developing them into research reports. Please note that nothing here is set in stone! Rather, this sheet is an internal document to help us keep organized about our interests.

Marc Breisinger: iPod as eBook

Monica Bulger: Study how students interact with online course material and whether this interaction affects academic performance.

Mike Godwin: Thermo Rewrite

Garnet Hertz: OkCupid.com, MySpace, Friendster, Facebook, Media Art, Net Art, Social Networking, Technical research related to other projects/reports

Katrina Kimport: Internet-enabled protest; identity in online communities

Kim Knight: Wikipedia.org, The $100 Laptop

Peter Krapp: Synapsen

Nowell Marshall: Ronald Rice’s book, Accessing and Browsing Information and Communication (Browsing Practices cluster).

Jessica Pressman: Mediawork Pamphlet Series, Peter Lunenfeld, editor; Poems that go: online literary journal for new media poetry, Ingrid Ankerson and Megan Sapnar, editors;
electronic book review: online journal for critical discussion about new media and electronic literature, Joseph Tabbi, editor; Bob Brown’s Readies machine: an avant-garde project described and planned in the early 1930s to create a reading machine that would use cinematic technology to make words move across a reading surface; Kybernekyia: Ezra Pound’s Canto LXXXI as “Hypervortextâ€?: a teaching tool created by Ned Bates and Gail McDonald that present the canto as a hypertext.

John Roberts: Social semantic networks, or folksonomies. Sites like Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/) or Del.icio.us ( http://del.icio.us/) where the community is capable of defining meaning for content. These are similar to things like Wikipedia, though that is more of a community-supported blog.

Lisa Swanstrom: Archive.org & the Way Back Machine, Inform.com

Alison Walker: Britain in Print, The Commonplace Book, Turning the Pages, the Ockham Initiative, BookCrossers

Wikipedia.orgTransliteracies Research Report

Collaborative online knowledge base that allows readers and users to contribute to and edit its encyclopedic-like entries.

“The content of Wikipedia is free, written collaboratively by people from all around the world. This website is a wiki, which means that anyone with access to an Internet-connected computer can edit entries simply by clicking on the edit this page link. Begun in 2001, Wikipedia has rapidly grown into the largest reference website on the Internet…Because Wikipedia is an ongoing work to which anybody with Internet access can contribute, it differs from a paper-based reference source in some very important ways. In particular, older articles tend to be more comprehensive and balanced, while newer articles may still contain significant misinformation, unencyclopedic content, or vandalism. Users need to be aware of this in order to obtain valid information and avoid misinformation which has been recently added and not yet removed.” (from Wikipedia)

Starter Links: Wikipedia.org | Article about the contraversial use of wikis

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Kim Knight


Free online matching service. Users of the site define their personalities and those whom they wish to meet through a plethora of traditional and very-non-traditional personality tests. Users can create a profile page, upload photos, define “real friends,” and search for people with similar interests. OKCupid is distinctive because of its emphasis on semi-recreational test-taking and creative test-writing.

“What is OkCupid? It’s a totally free matching service. It’s also extremely accurate, as long as (a) you’re honest, and (b) you know what you want. We don’t claim to evaluate you perfectly, but we do claim to find someone who claims to fulfill your claimed requirements, exactly. We firmly believe that most matching sites are just personals services; their “matching” systems are nonexistent or overly subjective.

While we have a small team here, we all take math (and all that math implies) very seriously. OkCupid is a fun project for us for a variety of reasons, only one of which is the actual content. We aim to be the best matching service on every front: superior technology, better math, better psychology. And of course, it’s free, unlike all the others. ” (from OkCupid.)

Starter Links: OKCupid Homepage | OKCupid Wikipedia Entry

The Codex Book

Research Report by Robin Chin
(created 1/30/06; version 1.0)

Related Categories: Hardware Innovations, History of Reading

Original Object for Study description

The codex form of book — a “sheaf of bound pages”[1] — became prevalent in Europe over the previously popular format of the scroll sometime around the fifth century A.D. In its inception and subsequent technical improvements, the codex revolutionized modern thought to include, among other things, a new understanding of individual and informative portability – through space, likewise through time. Increased efforts at portability of the codex not only directly added to the spread of literacy to different economic classes, but also contributed to changes in the format of writing towards the use of academic research and towards general “user-friendliness.” Notably, such technical developments mirror, or at least relate to recent concerns and trends in personal computing, including but not limited to the size and appearance of computer hardware, the layout and graphic design of web pages, and interface design of computer software. (more…)

Tom Jennings, “ASCII: American Standard Code for Information Infiltration”

This document by Tom Jennings describes a history of ASCII (the American Standard Code for Information Interchange) and its immediate ancestors including FIELDATA, ITA2, Murray’s telegraphy code, Baudot’s telegraphy code, and Morse’s telegraphy code. This history provides a thorough foundation for how ASCII came to be and serves as a basis for understanding electronic communication.

This research isn’t a detailed history of the development of character codes per se, but of the codes themselves and their specific meanings.


Objects for Study

The following are potential objects for study:

Beehive (journal)

EPC (Electronic Poetry Center) at SUNY Buffalo

IATH (Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities)

Iowa Review Web

PennSound (Univ. of PA’s)

Riding the Meridian (journal)

trAce Online Writing Center


Transliteracies Research ReportFacebook

Popular social-networking site serving college students (a second branch of the site was later created to serve high school students):

“Facebook is an online directory that connects people through social networks at schools…. You can use Facebook to:

  • Look up people at your school.
  • See how people know each other.

Transliteracies Research ReportMySpace.com

Popular social networking site that spread from its origins in the music/band scene to college, high-school, and even middle-school communities:

“MySpace is an online community that lets you meet your friends’ friends.
Create a private community on MySpace and you can share photos, journals and interests with your growing network of mutual friends! See who knows who, or how you are connected. Find out if you really are six people away from Kevin Bacon.” (from About on MySpace.com)

Starter Links: Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Garnet Hertz


Influential as one of the original social-networking sites:

“Find old classmates and co-workers. Provide an easy way for your friends to find your blog. Share photos with your friends. Never forget your friends’ birthdays or lose their contact information. Check your friend compatibility on any given day using joint horoscopes. See your relationship to any member on Friendster, allowing you to safely meet people through your friends.” (from Overview on Friendster site)

Starter Links: Friendster home page


Second-generation open-tagging system for sharing multimedia, links, files, and blogs in a way that allows users to annotate them as belonging to shareable categories:

“TagWorld is helping build the Social Web by providing a unified set of easy-to-use, web-based services that will let users create and engage in a more meaningful, social experience.
        The Social Web empowers people’s ability to engage in self-expression and communicate and share information with whomever they choose. As the Internet’s influence evolves, a new social phase is emerging that calls for enabling people to place and have access to a broad range of personal information that they wish to place on the web. To support users, TagWorld sees five fundamental components for building out this new social web infrastructure: people, photos, blogs, tags and storage.” (from About on TagWorld site)

Starter Links: TagWorld home page | PC Magazine review


One of the paradigm-setting open-tagging systems that allows users to share links to “favorite” online resources and annotate them as belonging to particular categories of interest:

“del.icio.us is a collection of favorites – yours and everyone else’s. Use del.icio.us to:

  • Keep links to your favorite articles, blogs, music, restaurant reviews, and more on del.icio.us and access them from any computer on the web.
  • Share favorites with friends, family, and colleagues.
  • Discover new things. Everything on del.icio.us is someone’s favorite – they’ve already done the work of finding it. Explore and enjoy.” (from About on del.icio.us site)

    Starter Links: del.icio.us home page


Paradigm-seting open-tagging system for organizing and sharing photos. Though it does not bear directly on the Transliteracies problem of online reading, Flickr is relevant because it helped establish the model for open, shareable metadata—that is, for allowing users to annotate online resources in common:

“Part of the solution is to make the process of organizing photos collaborative. In Flickr, you can give your friends, family, and other contacts permission to organize your photos – not just to add comments, but also notes and tags. People like to ooh and ahh, laugh and cry, make wisecracks when sharing photos. Why not give them the ability to do this when they look at them over the internet? And as all this info accretes around the photos as metadata, you can find them so much easier later on, since all this info is also searchable.” (from About Flickr on Flickr site)

Starter Links: Flickr home page

The Virtual Retinal Display

With the VRD a new technique of Head Mounted Displays evolve that don’t produce a real image on a physical screen any more, but project a virtual image directly onto the retina. They promise on the long run, low costs, light weight and higher resolutions which might make convenient reading possible for the first time in the history of HMDs.

“The VRD was invented at the University of Washington in the Human Interface Technology Lab (HIT) in 1991. The development began in November 1993. The aim was to produce a full color, wide field-of-view, high resolution, high brightness, low cost virtual display. Microvision Inc. has the exclusive license to commercialize the VRD technology. This technology has many potential applications, from head-mounted displays (HMDs) for military/aerospace applications to medical society.

The VRD projects a modulated beam of light (from an electronic source) directly onto the retina of the eye producing a rasterized image. The viewer has the illusion of seeing the source image as if he/she stands two feet away in front of a 14-inch monitor. In reality, the image is on the retina of its eye and not on a screen. The quality of the image he/she sees is excellent with stereo view, full color, wide field of view, no flickering characteristics. Using the VRD technology it is possible to build a display with the following characteristics:

* Very small and lightweight, glasses mountable * Large field of view, greater than 120 degrees * High resolution, approaching that of human vision * Full color with better color resolution than standard displays * Brightness sufficient for outdoor use * Very low power consumption * True stereo display with depth modulation * Capable of fully inclusive or see through display modes” (from the NPS Article)

Starter Links:
Microvision|Product video|NPS Article

The IPod as Ebook ProjectTransliteracies Research Report

With better display quality, more storage space and a very sophisticated web infrastructure to support it, the IPod is growing into a multipurpose device for different kinds of media, that exceeds the original intention of a mp3 player by far.

The IPod video is much more than a mp3 player. In fact, it is a full-sized computer that is even able to have a version of linux installed. With video and audio podcasts there is a new way to handle content transfer of any kind. Furthermore, the IPod can be used as a ebook. With the IPodulator websites can be viewed and several books like for example the bible can be heard and read on the IPod on the go.

Starter Links:

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Marc Breisinger

Robin Chin

Graduate Student, English Department, UC Santa Barbara (more…)

Pending Research Reports

The Codex Transliteracies Research Report

Invention and adoption of the codex book:

The codex form of book — a “sheaf of bound pagesâ€? — became prevalent in Europe over the previously popular format of the scroll sometime around the fifth century A.D. In its inception and subsequent technical improvements, the codex revolutionized modern thought to include, among other things, a new understanding of individual and informative portability — through space, likewise through time. Increased efforts at portability of the codex not only directly added to the spread of literacy to different economic classes, but also contributed to changes in the format of writing towards the use of academic research and towards general “user-friendliness.â€? Notably, such technical developments mirror, or at least relate to recent concerns and trends in personal computing, including but not limited to the size and appearance of computer hardware, the layout and graphic design of web pages, and interface design of computer software.

Starter Links or References: Carter, John. ABC for Book Collectors. Revised by Nicholas Barker. 7th ed. Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 1995 | Chappell, Warren. A Short History of the Printed Word. Edited by Robert Bringhurst. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks Publishers, Inc., 1999.

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Robin Chin

Perseus Digital Library

Online multimedia library initially devoted to giving the reader access to works of antiquity. Since its inception the project has expanded to include literature of different time periods.

“Perseus is an evolving digital library, engineering interactions through time, space, and language. Our primary goal is to bring a wide range of source materials to as large an audience as possible. We anticipate that greater accessibility to the sources for the study of the humanities will strengthen the quality of questions, lead to new avenues of research, and connect more people through the connection of ideas.” (from the Perseus Digital Library.)

Starter Links: Perseus Digital Library

Internet Archive, WayBack MachineTransliteracies Research Report

Online archive of past web sites, including defunct or no longer operable pages. Takes its name from “Peabody’s Improbable History,” a frequent short on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

“Browse through 40 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago. To start surfing the Wayback, type in the web address of a site or page where you would like to start, and press enter. Then select from the archived dates available. The resulting pages point to other archived pages at as close a date as possible. Keyword searching is not currently supported.” (from Archive.org.)

Starter Links: Internet Archive |

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Lisa Swanstrom


Service that aids scholars in the organization of academic reading materials online.

“CiteULike is a free service to help academics to share, store, and organise the academic papers they are reading. When you see a paper on the web that interests you, you can click one button and have it added to your personal library. CiteULike automatically extracts the citation details, so there’s no need to type them in yourself. It all works from within your web browser. There’s no need to install any special software.

Because your library is stored on the server, you can access it from any computer. You can share your library with others, and find out who is reading the same papers as you. In turn, this can help you discover literature which is relevant to your field but you may not have known about. ” (from CiteULike.)

Starter Links:

Soliloquy Reading Assistant

Learning tool that uses voice-recognition technology to assist the student with reading aloud.

“Research shows that reading aloud to a supportive listener is one of the best ways for children to develop fluency. Soliloquy Reading Assistant provides kids with this guided oral reading experience, using the computer as the supportive listener. We deploy cutting-edge speech recognition technology and research-validated intervention to help students master a text and allow them–and their parents and teachers–to chart their progress. The result is a fun, interactive experience for kids and a comprehensive real-time assessment tool for teachers.” (from Soliloquy Reading Assistant.)

Starter Links: Soliloquy Reading Assistant | project description from next/text

Decamaron Web

Online resource out of Brown University for reading Boccaccio’s Decamaron. Includes links, maps, and other digital supplements.

“The site can serve as a primer for newcomers to the Decameron, with useful sections on Boccaccio’s period and literary influences, and profiles of major characters and themes. A more advanced scholar can take advantage of complete, searchable texts in Italian and English, period music recordings, an extensive critical bibliography, and analytical tools such as a motif index and a concordance. The “pedagogy” section provides resources that teachers and students can use in their courses – reading guides, sample papers, course modules, and a variety of articles on the meaningful use of technology in the classroom.” (from next/text.)

Starter Links: Decamaron Web | Project description from next/text

The Book as Landscape: Hypermedia Berlin

New reading inteface which reconfigers the page into a landscape of interlinking information.

“The page itself, one of the most fundamental components of the book, is undergoing a material and conceptual transformation as the static, flat, delimited space of the paper page gives way to the animated, interactive, unlimited, deep space of the digital book. “Hypermedia Berlin”–which grew out of a collaboration between the Stanford Humanities Laboratory (SHL) and UCLA’s Center for Digital Humanities (CDH)–represents an excellent example of the formal innovation made possible by digital media. This project crafts an entirely new kind of page out of a gallery of highly detailed, interlinked, illustrated and annotated map interfaces, which can be navigated with an easy-to-use zoom feature. In other words, the page itself has been re-oriented to “landscape.” This alternative book form organizes its content topographically and chronologically; encouraging readers to interact with and consider its subject differently. History, the map interface tells us, is tied as strongly to place as it is to time.

Presently, the site offers 25 navigable maps, “each map, corresponding to a key date in Berlin’s nearly 800 hundred year history, consists of an array of virtual reality “hotspots,” popup information screens, and critical essays documenting and analyzing significant regions, architectural structures, events, people, and cultural products from that moment in Berlin’s history.” Using the zoom function, students and scholars can study the maps in detail. The overlay function, which makes maps semi-transparent so that one can be placed on top of the other, allows the reader to analyze changes in Berlin’s landscape.” (from next/text)

Starter Links:
project description on next/text

Mark Billinghurst, AR Volcano

“Magic Book” project that employs augmented reality to create three-dimensional images that change with each page.

“Without goggles, someone approaching AR Volcano would only see what looked like a conventional paper book propped (albeit one which is only six pages long) on a podium. With the goggle, the computer software recognizes special patterns embedded in the book and replaces them with photo-realistic 3D objects. In this photo, a volcanic eruption takes place over the course of several minutes. The image will appear no matter where the user positions themselves around the book, and a new image can be seen by simply turning the page.

AR Volcano has a significant feature that sets it apart from Billinghurst’s previous magic books and makes the technology much more suitable for creating learning environments. In earlier books – such as the Black Magic Book, which tells the story of the America’s Cup Race – the user was positioned as a passive spectator in an enhanced “reading” environment. AR Volcano, however, provides an interactive slider that allows the user to control volcano formation and eruption as well as the movement of tectonic plates. In the image above, the slider (a physical slider attached to the book podium), is adjusted so that the volcano is erupting at a rapid pace; in the image below, the slider is adjusted downwards so that the movement of tectonic plates on the earth’s surface occurs more gradually. The audio narrative also adjusts, so that it keeps pace with the user’s movement through the pages of the book.” (from the next/text web site.)

Starter Links: next/text’s works in progress page


Institute for the Future of the Book’s project to encourage the evolution of the book from printed form to new-media entity.

“In this networked age, the printed textbook has likely reached the end of its useful life cycle, but a robust digital competitor has yet to emerge. The next\text project seeks to encourage the creation of born-digital learning materials that enhance, expand, and ultimately replace the printed textbook. The work presented here offers multiple visions of what might be possible. ”(from next/text.)

Starter Links: next/text | Academic Commons article about next/text | Institute for the Future of the Book

Academic Commons

Web site devoted to discussion about information, literacy, and new media. Publishes essays, reviews, and interviews, and showcases educational tools.

“Academic Commons publishes essays, editorials, thought pieces, screeds, and musings about digital tools and innovative practices for teaching, learning, and publishing with technology.” (from Academic Commons.)

Starter Links: Academic Commons | LoLa (learning objects-learning activities) Exchange

Open Content Alliance

Organization of various entities devoted to the digitization of books in the public domain.

“The Open Content Alliance (OCA) represents the collaborative efforts of a group of cultural, technology, nonprofit, and governmental organizations from around the world that will help build a permanent archive of multilingual digitized text and multimedia content. Content in the OCA archive will be accessible soon through this website and through Yahoo!

The OCA will encourage the greatest possible degree of access to and reuse of collections in the archive, while respecting the content owners and contributors. Contributors to the OCA must agree to the principles set forth in the Call for Participation.” (from the Open Content Alliance web page.)

Starter Links: OCA | “Microsoft, Joining Growing Digital-Library Effort, Will Pay for Scanning of 150,000 Books,” Jeffrey Young’s article in the Oct. 27, 2005 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education | “Scribes of the Digital Era,” Jeffrey Young’s follow-up article in the Jan. 27, 2006 issue of Chronicle of Higher Education

Random House, page-per-view

Random House’s new plan to offer their books online on a pay-per-page basis.

“Unwilling to let a Google, Yahoo!, or Microsoft dictate terms in cyberspace, Random House Inc, the world’s largest trade publisher, is taking the industry lead. In early November it outlined ways it would begin to offer its books directly to consumers on a page-per-view basis. Random House will get at least four cents a page and split that roughly in half with authors for fiction and narrative nonfiction. Other types of books, such as cookbooks, will have different pricing models. Random House is discouraging copying fo the texts by delivering pages in low-resolution files.” (from “Digital Is Our Destiny.” )

Starter Links: Random House Announcement | “Digital Is Our Destiny,” Tom Lowry’s article in the November 28, 2005 issue of BusinessWeek