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Announcement: Current Research Highlights

The following posts feature recent Transliteracies research projects, reports, events, or highlights. (These items also rotate through the “Current Research Highlights” panel at the top of the sidebar on the home page of this site.)

Announcement: RoSE (Research-oriented Social Environment)

RoSE logo RoSE is a research-oriented social environment for tracking and integrating relations between authors and documents in a combined “social-document graph.” It allows users to learn about an author or idea from the evolving relationships between people-and-documents, people-and-people, and documents-and-documents.

Unique features of RoSE include:

  • Fine-grained and flexible relationship types and tags. Not everyone is just an “author of” or “friend of.”

  • Historical “dead” people have their own profile pages. In true research, the influence between the past and present evolves in both directions.

  • Visualizations of relations between people and documents. Social-network and other diagrams allow users to notice orbits and clusters of knowledge.

  • User-definable “contexts” for entering or filtering data. One can enter or search for information entered in the context of a course, conference, research project, etc.-an approach that provides implicit local contexts in which to judge goals, priorities, and information quality.

  • Potential for interaction with other document repositories or social networks-e.g., through algorithmic harvesting of information or automated output into other biblio-social systems, visualization applications, etc. Though it currently does not access full-texts of documents, RoSe may in the future be wedded to full-text repositories.

RoSe is currently a demonstration project in early development by the UC Transliteracies Project, which focuses on the digital reading in today’s socially-networked digital environments. As a demonstration project, its limited goal is to suggest what is possible and to offer a hands-on way of thinking about some of the critical issues that would need to be confronted if RoSE were to be implemented as a production-scale system. These issues—which map the frontier where older document-centric modes of knowledge are extending into new socially-networked digital environments—include: expertise and networked public knowledge, data-mining and visualization of social networks, information credibility, fluid ontologies and metadata for social and historical research, and online reading and research environments.



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.



Research Report by Lindsay Thomas

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


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].


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…)



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.


WorldCat Identities


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.



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


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.




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.



Research Report by Renee Hudson

(created 11/20/09)

Related Categories:

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.

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).


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

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…)


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.


“Social Computing in 2020” Contest Winners

The Transliteracies Project and the UCSB Social Computing Group are pleased to announce the winners of the Bluesky Innovation Competition on “Social Computing in 2020.”

The worldwide contest was designed to engage undergraduate and graduate students in the newly emerging, interdisciplinary field of “social computing.” Participants were encouraged to imagine how society and technology will interact 10 to 20 years from now – far enough in the future to stretch our imagination of technology, yet near enough to be plausible.

Contest entries consisted of a description of the envisioned technology as well as an imaginative realization, embodiment, or illustration of the idea. The entries were judged on the basis of creativity, understanding of technology and society, explanatory clarity and organization of the description, and the quality of the imaginative realization, embodiment, or illustration. (See the original contest announcement.)

The Winners:

First Prize ($3,000): “SENSe” by Karen Tanenbaum and Joshua Tanenbaum, graduate students, School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Simon Fraser University

Excerpts: (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.

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…)

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.

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…)



CommentPress was developed by the Institute for the Future of the Book as part of their ongoing experiments with “networked books”. First instituted in 2006 as part of McKenzie Wark’s GAM3R 7H3ORY 1.1 publication, the software was developed to work with WordPress and intended to reconfigure the nature of blog discussions. CommentPress allows respondents to post comments in the margin of the text, on a paragraph-by-paragraph or “whole page” basis. This breaks down the top-down hieararchy typical of blogs whereby a main post is positioned vertically above any commentary. Instead a reader may view the text and commentary at the same time.

Version 1.0 of CommentPress was released to the general public in July 2007 and the software has been used to generate discussion around Master’s Theses, scholarly articles, and books. (more…)

Social Computing Bibliography

Working bibliography of the Transliteracies Social Computing research group. This bibliography was created by research assistants Monica Bulger and Katrina Kimport, and will be expanded as the Transliteracies project continues. See also the Online Literacy Skills Bibliography and the History of Reading group’s bibliography. Objects for Study in the project’s Research Clearinghouse contains annotated citations of a wider range of related materials (including web, hardware, software, historical, and artistic resources as well as selected items from this bibliography).

Social Computing Bibliography


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…)


Collex is a tool developed at the University of Virginia’s Applied Research in Patacriticism lab (ARP) and currently operated in conjunction with NINES (Networked Interface for Nineteenth-century Electronic Scholarship). Described as an “interpretive hub,” (Nowviskie) Collex acts as an interface for nine different peer-reviewed, scholarly databases. The interface allows users to access all nine databases in one search, while results retain the unique characteristics of each individual source. Additionally, users can create exhibits for their own personal use, or they may submit exhibits to be shared with all users. As such, Collex and its relationship to data evolves as users interact with it, relying on folksonomy and user-generated relationships to construct new ways of viewing the information it contains therein. (more…)

Beyond Search: A Preliminary Skill Set for Online Literacy

“Beyond Search: A Preliminary Skill Set for Online Literacy” by Monica Bulger.
(version 1.1; updated 9/13/06)

About the Author: Monica Bulger is a doctoral student at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, former UCSB Writing Program Lecturer, and current Co-Director of the Bren Graduate Writing Center. Her research interests include educational technologies, cognitive writing processes, and student engagement. She currently works with the Technology in Education research initiative, an interdisciplinary team that studies the impacts of technology on student learning. More information about the author.

Related Categories: Literacy Studies

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

Today’s online reading experience is a convergence of search engines, blogs, wikis, forums, social networks, RSS feeds, and traditional web pages (Lieu & Kinzer, 2000). Efforts such as Google Books, Yahoo’s Online Content Alliance, and digital libraries are increasing the rate at which resources such as journal articles, books, periodicals, and informational websites are published online (Carlson & Young, 2004; Gorman & Wilkin, 2005; Hafner, 2005). Correspondingly, an increasing percentage of the U.S. population (73% in 2006) is turning to online resources for work-related research, education. and general information about hobbies, health and shopping (Madden, 2006). Online users now have access to vast amounts of information but may not know how to use it (Azevedo & Cromley, 2004; Rouet, 2006). The risk of information overload, combined with the seductive distractions of online media, challenge users to develop savvy navigation and filtering skills. Faced with over eight billion pages of information (Lyman & Varian, 2003; Markoff, 2005) and unlimited opportunities for interaction, how do online users select what they need and know when to stop?



ConceptNet is a software program that culls meaning from searchable text. ConceptNet focuses on semantic meaning in a text, analyzing concepts and the contexts in which they are found, offering a unique approach compared to traditional keyword or statistical evaluations of texts.

ConceptNet has been used as the basis for several programs designed to distill particular meanings from texts (affect, for example) and provide intelligent feedback about the text’s content. (more…)


Blogdex is a research project from the MIT Media Laboratory that traces the diffusion of content, represented in the form of hypertext links, over time, through blogs.

Programs such as Blogdex offer a window into the networking structure of the blogging community, an opportunity to systematically analyze large textual datasets, and a way to think about meaning in the online environment. (more…)