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Category: Rich PDF

Dynamic Views : Pinch In, Pinch Out

After discussions in my previous post and a lot of thinking over the last few days, it seems clear that a Dynamic View with any and all elements considered (headings, citations, glossary terms, annotations, images etc.) would be a real mess to try to design at this stage before we have useful working subsets of this implemented well. Therefore the design will be split between these two views:

  • The Pinch-In View will be for brainstorming, featuring only heading elements.
  • The Pinch-Out View will be for viewing the citations in different ways with local annotations to help explain the context.

It’s all becoming clearer and more liquid…

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Spatial Hypertext Literature Review Support

Knowledge is fluid with a multiplicity of interconnections–whereas an argument, such as a PhD thesis–is rigid and linear, though supported by connections to the fluidly connected knowledge space.

The aim of my PhD work is to augment a student’s ability to more efficiently form deep understanding of the the concepts the literature describes and how they connect while doing a PhD Literature Review” (LR). I am doing this through a Spatial Hypertext-like ‘Liquid View’ which is integrated into a traditional word processing view in the Liquid | Author word processor.

Research Question

How can a richly hypertextual environment augment the author’s ability to perform LR (support cognitive internalising of the external work to achieve clarity) and how can this be further communicated in a linear form, connected to, and given credibility from, the fluid knowledge space? [Notes]


I am scheduling a Focus Group which will be followed by an online Survey.

The basic design for the Liquid View in Author has been established based on knowledge from my literature review, practical experience, design and redesign and will undergo further refinement as results from the Focus Group and the Survey come in: Design on Trello

The Liquid View is being designed to incorporate not only Citations but also Notes, Headings and Glossary Entries, but only the Citations will be implemented for this project.


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richer environments for richer interactions

A powerful interaction arises out of the users knowledge of the tools and systems, the tool and the digital environment/infrastructure the tool operates in. Different environments can afford different degrees of interaction and this is a key to the fundamental evolution in the digital domain.

If we are to improve ourselves we must improve the tools we use to interact with our world, with each other and ourselves. If we are to improve our tools we must improve the environments in which we use our tools.

A more powerful workflow for academic (and other) documents would be if the documents allowed for more powerful interactions from the reader and automatic systems. Currently most academic publishing is done through the formerly proprietary Portable Document (PDF) format created by Adobe in the 1990s and opened in 2008. This format was developed with a focus on WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get)–it was designed to work independently of operating systems to produce a document which had a consistent visual appearance and the internal structure was therefore geared towards screen or paper reading, not interaction. Doug Engelbart suggested that instead of WYSIWYG, this approached should be called WYSIAYG (what you see is all you get) since it negates any special Digital-Substrate functionality.

I have, crudely, made a word processor where the user does not have the paper legacy of a table of contents and an index in the back which are separate from the main body text but which are the same and the user modifies the shape of the document to see what is useful at the time. With documents which are WYIWIWYG (what you interact with is what you get) focused, which I also refer to as more Socratic documents, the interactions can get much more powerful.

My work concerns the whole document process but for my PhD I am focusing on the literature review reading process and in particular how the References section of a document and the citations in the document can become more useful to the reader in ascertaining the importance and relevance of a citation and the author(s) who produced the document. This can only happen if the documents the reader uses are in a format which is semantically open and at this stage it looks like PDFs are not but my advisor Les seem to have ways around this but the up and coming JATS format should suit this very well.

The idea is that the citations in the references section can visually indicate how often they are also cited by other documents the user has and much more.

Maybe I should only focus on JATS. This is what I am looking into now.

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