Skip to content

Category: PhD

Richly Interactive Text for Education

I met with my thesis advisors Wendy Hall and Les Carr today. Below is my intro to them followed by notes from the meeting:

I want to revolutionise education, starting with how students and teachers interact with each other via documents, with a particular focus on interacting with citations.

{ When people are passionate about what they are doing they want a lot of control. Conversely, when people are given real control they are more likely to develop a passion. The Author Project is about nurturing this passion for working with knowledge through supporting and enabling rich interaction, giving students and teacher much more real control }

Primary areas for improvement includes

• Supporting students to produce well thought-out, thoroughly researched and correctly cited documents which are clearly and persuasively presented
• Reducing the time it takes teachers to go through large volumes of student writing and give thoughtful feedback effectively

There are several known opportunities which need realising including work by my mentor Doug Engelbart, and in realising these we stand to gain further insights as to further improvement.

Notes from The Meeting

I will look at how pieces of information can hang together/connect. This relates strongly to linking and citations, allowing the student to string together various sources into coherent, references documents. Non-text media, including audio and video should be considered.

How can a document be a (frozen, versioned) frame for a human perspective yet stay connected with source material and be dynamic?

The first work I will carry out will be to read the proceedings of the previous Hypertext conferences and Craig Tashman’s thesis on LiquidText. I will continue to build the interactive text glossary while learning.

I will spend at lest 2 days a week in Southampton, making sure I get involved in the community.

I will continue on Author, in a background capacity, hopefully having a public, useable release by end of 2016, with good citation support and the opportunity to implement fundings from the PhD research.

Leave a Comment

Re-Inventing Student-Teacher Document Dialogue

I aim to make the dialogue students and teachers have via documents much more effective, in terms of increasing student mental movements and decreasing clerical work for both students and teachers. I propose that The Author Project is a useful base for this. 

By documents I mean a ‘frozen’ set of text and other media bound in a document format.

By mental movements I mean increasing the student’s ability to think, manipulate and understand the material in order to actively reflect upon it and compare it with other information and then to communicate insights in a clear and well cited manner. 

By decreasing clerical work I mean reducing the amount of steps/reducing the complexity needed to carry out any of the useful tasks to a point where are you have a fluid workflow rather than a system where the student or teacher will spend time and effort and energy to decide whether to even carry out the tasks.

By clerical tasks I mean any task that is not directly related to the communication between student and teacher such as issues related to the computer system or the institution.

This encompasses support for the following in a fluid, connected flow:

  • Input research, active reading and citation checking
  • Analysis comparisons, contextualisation, dialogue with peers & experts and evaluation
  • Output effective note taking, writing, editing, integrating and citing

The results should be that the student has a much greater mental freedom of movement and the teacher more easily gets a much better understanding of what the student is communicating and spends less time dealing with clerical tasks. 

Other current text projects such as Craig Tashman’s LiquidText focuses on one aspect of the reading/writing experience (active reading, in particular ). His PhD thesis is very informative for the potential model for that of Author however. 

Leave a Comment

Week One

I finish the first academic week just getting over a quite annoying cold, but there it is. Yesterday I slept for most of the day, today for half of it. The upside is my iPhone 7 arrived yesterday and I thought I had ordered the plus version for the camera but decided that this beautiful little gem of a phone, Jet Black and fast and sleek, will be my phone. I’ll likely end up with the SONY RX100 V (announced last night!) as my primary camera. All well and wonderful but not at all related to the PhD, which the new Manu Katché album I’m listening to is not either. And neither is the wonderful expresso (Nespresso Ristretto) with foam in my little black SF cup, but this is where I am right now, listening, working on (a still no-saving) Author on the tremendous 27” machine, waiting for people to view the flat…

This week was mostly about settling in; getting rail card and ID card and more:

Wednesday morning was the “Introduction to Teaching Skills for PGRS Part 1 – Demonstrators” which was impressive – much more so than any intro to teaching I received at LCC. The leader was clear and the format of group chats was effective I thought and my fellow students were just very inspirational.

I’ve started a routine of getting up at 10 to 5 in the morning, getting dressed and having some cereal, then a coffee (ref above) and reading papers on my new iPad Pro (9.7”) with the Apple Pencil, which is just quite awesome. I use Mendeley to keep it all in one place – it synch’s with macOS so that should help when I actually start writing…

The way I read the papers is with a firm intent to think and learn, not to simply plow through them, so I highlight sections of course but every time I learn something new I blog about it as a Glossary item. You can see the list here: I am also adding definitions for interactive text/hypertext in general, to cover Doug and Ted topics etc.

I also came across Mark Bernstein’s Storyspace again and found the hyper-fiction angle very interesting, although not directly related to my work on non-fiction. It’s great to have my own core concepts to the point where I can mentally really look at other perspectives :-)

I had a Skype with Craig last night, he is doing well with his LiquidText product (great name huh?!) and I’ve talked with Jesse recently as well. I’m very happy to be building some useful dialog with the current crop of creators – I should not only be focusing on the great pioneers, my dialog needs to have some current life.

In other news, Author is still being worked on, but still not working. Liquid is fixed for macOS Sierra and I applied for an incubator for the Author project. The date for the Future of Text will likely be 2nd of October next year, since that is the 55th anniversary of Doug’s paper being published, as Karl pointed out.

That’s it for now, off for dinner with the aunties at the club.

Leave a Comment