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Category: Deep Literacy

A Clear & Present Opportunity

Time for Better Literature Research

Universities and reading glasses were invented roughly simultaneously (coincidence?), during the 13th century. There were counties for students to have books copied for studying of which I won’t waste our time going through the details of how it wasted their time. It seems however, that not much has changed. Today’s academic is more likely to print out the sources for their literature review than to read it in digital form (Walsh, 2016), even though there are many different types of digital devices to read them on, from reflective to transmissive tablets and from laptops to desktops.

I am not writing about the pros and cons of paper versus digital for general reading but I do mean to highlight that there is a real opportunity to build an ecosystem where digital reading of professional material (someone one reads to learn, not for enjoyment primarily) can benefit from the potentially connected nature of digital text environments.

We will necessarily have to start with PDFs since they are the dominant form of academic knowledge transmission units, though of course support ePubs and other formats as well.

Workflow

The suggested flow is simply this:

annotate

A user reads a document for their research and highlights interesting sections, writes notes in the margin and also generally about the document. The user also also jots down ideas as the reading and research process progresses. Furthermore, the reading applications gives the user a rich set of facilities to view the document as she sees fit, including flexible ways to access keywords, summaries, abstracts, links, references and connections and so on, some of which we have implemented in Liquid Author and Flow.

access

All the literature review the user has read is accessible through keyword search, including specifying whether to only search highlighted text, annotations, notes or full text. When the user copies text from a document and pastes it into the document their are authoring, all the salient citation information is included and is copied across (since this is not possible by default, they system will need a fast and elegant way for the user to help add this to the document on opening/at leisure and in future automatically use what authoring systems will append as meta-information).

All the literature review the user has yet to read is also accessible through searches and can be bunched based on keywords, citations and other criteria.

All the literature the user has yet to access, which is connected to the users work by being cited in current work is also accessible.

The visual space of connecting literature can be developed by anyone since the connectors will be made clearly available. The weblau is one direction which can be powerfully useful in this regard.

A more Liquid Reader

This could make the literature review process a truly liquid, smooth and rich affair. This is not rocket science or heading far out into the unknown, this can provide clear and immediate benefits.

We have started experimental work around this workflow, with the Liquid | Reader but this will require more investment to continue til completion, particularly since the standards of searching for academic document is so incoherent and therefore many searches engines will need to be strung together.

1 Comment

A Reply to Lorand

In reply to the comment on http://wordpress.liquid.info/why-work-on-improving-our-tools-for-thought/#comment-4167954257

Lorand, I don’t have a problem with the importance of knowledge graphs as you put it.

I agree that what matters is to find a way to visually encode the author’s intention in such a way that the reader can most effectively critically access it. I completely agree that a visual approach to this is the way to go and I don’t think we disagree that textual components of this are likely going to be very powerful as well.

I have started some work on this for my Author word processor as Dynamic Views and I am working with Christopher Gutteridge and Gyuri Layos on their visual graph systems for jrnl.global

You say that “text is outdated because of the:”
– need of serialization,
– lack of exact definitions and structures,
– missing ability to follow morphing background.

I don’t agree, with the first and third, as my dynamic views system (and all other visual graphs show) but the second point I do agree with but I just wonder what nodes or symbols or statements or ‘things’ we have available to use which are rigidly defined and structured.

If you want to talk with Ted that’s quite a challenge these days. He is extremely busy with his work but if you like I can tell him to have a look at what you suggest if you send me something very specific.

Your angry tone betrays a frustration I can identify with but I can’t see much in terms of specifically what you suggest should be done. Please note, you trash talk linear text but you reply to me using exactly that. Please show me exactly, even with pencil drawings, I don’t mind, how you think you and me should be talking. No hyperbole, just description. I would very much like to engage new and different thoughts when presented clearly.

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