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Announcement: New Reading Interfaces Working Group » Research Reports

The New Reading Interfaces 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. The following reports and papers reflect these research interests.

Noah Wardrip-Fruin’s News Reader (2003) (with David Durand, Brion Moss, and Elaine Froehlich)

Research Report by Brooke Belisle
(created 2/21/07; version 1.0)
[Status: Draft]

Related Categories: New Approaches to Reading Print Texts, New Reading Interfaces

Original Object for Study description

“It is difficult to get the news…”

In 2003, New Radio and Performing Arts commissioned two artworks by Noah Wardrip-Fruin for their website, Turbulence.org. [1] Wardrip-Fruin produced Regime Change and News Reader, both of which he titled “Textual Instruments.” News Reader offers an interface for reading current news stories, and for what Wardrip-Fruin calls “playing” these stories or “playing” the online news environment. [2]As the user interacts with the news stories by clicking highlighted text, the stories multiply and warp in unpredictable ways. (more…)


Research Report by Kimberly Knight
(created 2/19/07; version 1.0)

Related Categories: Text Visualization | Social Networking Systems | Online Knowledge Bases

Original Object for Study description

LibraryThing is an online knowledge base and social networking tool for bibliophiles. The website allows users to catalog their personal libraries. By entering in their own books, users can locate others with similar libraries, find suggestions for books they might like, or even get “unsuggestions” for the books that are least like their own. Users can organize their collections according to self-defined tags and also view how others have tagged the same books. (more…)

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.”


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.”

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.”

Brian Kim Stefans, “The Dreamlife of Letters” (2000)

Research Report by Kim Knight
(created 2/18/07; version 1.0)

Related Categories: New Reading Interfaces | Text and Multimedia | Collective Reading

Original Object for Study description

“The Dreamlife of Letters” is a flash poem by Brian Kim Stefans. Published in 2000, the piece is based upon an appropriated poem by Rachel Blau DuPlessis and takes the viewer through the mobile and unstable “dreamlife” of letters. The words of DuPlessis’ poem have been grouped together according to their first letter and animated in such a way that the passive viewer can only watch as the text moves around the screen. Influenced by the traditions of concrete poetry and ambient poetics, the piece foregrounds language not only as a medium of meaning, but also as a medium of design. (more…)

News 2.0 (UCSB, February 10, 2007)

Newspaper 2.0 was a one-day workshop to explore challenges and opportunities in the new Internet-enabled newspaper marketplace. The workshop brought together journalists, scholars and leading thinkers who shared a common interest in the future of daily and weekly journals – with a particular interest in Santa Barbara as a region where new approaches might be explored.

The workshop was sponsored by the Center for Information Technology & Society (CITS) and the Transliteracies Project. It was hosted by Doc Searls, a CITS Research Fellow and journalist with feet in both the print and online domains. (more…)

The Journal of Literacy and Technology

Call for Papers: The Journal of Literacy and Technology

Title: The Journal of Literacy and Technology

Description: The JLT is an online academic journal exploring the complex relationship between literacy and technology in educational, workplace, public, and individual spheres. Articles and scholarly reviews span from the historical to the cutting-edge, from critical scholarship to applied theory to practice. The Journal of Literacy and Technology provides a free, accessible scholarly forum for all interested parties to explore and debate issues pertinent to novel literacies and digital culture.

Deadline: Submit article manuscripts for consideration at any time.

Type of submission wanted: The JLT considers original research, feature articles, and all articles should focus overtly on the relationship between literacy and technology. The JLT accepts manuscripts in electronic form. To submit an article for consideration, please send URL, manuscript, or electronic copy (.html, .doc, .pdf, or .rtf format).

Contact: Noemi Marin, Ph.D., Executive Editor
The Journal of Literacy and Technology
School of Communication
Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Road
Boca Raton, FL 33431

CaveWriting and the CAVE Simulator

Research Report by Nicole Starosielski
(created 2/6/07; version 1.0)
[Status: Draft]

Related Categories: Immersive Text Environments | Alternative Interfaces

Original Object for Study description


Cave Writing is an interdisciplinary artistic practice developed at Brown University for the CAVE simulator, a virtual reality environment typically used for scientific visualization. Cave Writing began in 2002 when hypertext fiction writer Robert Coover initiated a series of workshops in Brown University’s CAVE that brought together faculty, students, artists and scientists in the development of creative projects integrating text, visual imagery, narrative and sound. Several notable projects from the workshop include Screen, developed by Noah Wardrip-Fruin, et al., John Cayley’s Torus and William Gillespie’s Word Museum. The release of CaveWriting 2006, a spatial hypertext authoring system designed by workshop developers, allows authors to directly manipulate text, imagery and 3D models in a graphical front-end environment. CaveWriting now expands beyond the physical limits of the CAVE simulator, making it relatively easy for anyone with a compatible personal computer to experiment and explore writing and reading in three dimensional environments. (more…)

Table of Contents

1. Images

Santa Barbara Bible
UC Santa Barbara’s Book of Hours
Pages from the New Atalantis

2. Video Resources

Conference (2005) Video
Rama Hoetzlein’s “Quanta: Knowledge Organization for Interdisciplinary Research”

3. Flash Animations

“In the Beginning Was the Word…”
“Boston Correspondence”

4. Highlighted Research Reports & Papers

NINE’s Collex Tool

5. Highlighted Objects for Study

6. View All Items