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Key Interactions for the Future of Text ‘Reader’ application

This post was written as preparation for building a more advanced vision of the ‘Reader’ macOS PDF reader application I am building (for general use focused on augmenting students, which will remain a free piece of software) with enhanced functionality to demonstrate advanced and experimental interactions for the book ‘The Future of Text’, and was distributed to all the contributors of the book with the request that they comment in blog posts (to better view the dialog threads later) or as comments to this blog post to build a better idea of what the Reader should aim to become.

Current Reader

If you are a macOS user, please have a look at the current version of the Reader and maybe even download it. Key aspects of the initial version is a very clean workspace and the ability to Copy As Citation:


The goal of building the Reader for the Future of Text book is to really let people experience a different, innovative and useful reading environment which will hopefully spur them on to demand better text interactions in general.

Specifically, it should demonstrate that it can be quick and easy to connect/cite texts in robust, high-resolution ways–that viewing a document can be done in flexible ways to give them a deeper understanding faster–and that they can annotate the text both to aid critical comprehension of the text and also to help them find and organise salient sections later.


The constraints are that it will be presented as a PDF since that is the dominant academic document format at the time of printing and it should be archivable on paper or other analog medium for long periods with little loss of interaction when digitized, which means an evolution of the visual-meta system: It will also be designed for use on macOS initially, and as a native application (potentially also on iOS if we will be Abel to afford it), not a web application but all the code will be free and open source to those who want to extend it further to other platforms.

Key Interactions

The key interactions I want to enable in the Reader are outlined below. Since we don’t yet have high-resolution linking, this document was broken up into sections and posted as individual articles for the following, to make it easier to comment on specific aspects of the proposal:

  • Connecting Texts for linking and citations.
  • Viewing Texts outlines ideas for making a PDF document more interactive for the reader to get a good grasp of.
  • Annotating Text considers how the reader can add to and make the document their own.
  • Glossary as a means for the author to specify further information without having to type out more context every time.
Published inFuture Of TextNotes On...ReaderVisual-Meta

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