XLibris

Active reading device

XLibris is a prototype interface for reading developed at FXPAL to explore the question “can computers help us read?”

This project was part of FXPAL’s Physical/Digital Documents research program, and followed from a project in the design of an ink and audio personal notebook (Dynomite). The principal investigator was Gene Golovchinsky; former collaborators include Bill Schilit, Morgan PriceCathy Marshall, Kei Tanaka, and Frank Shipman. Other people have also contributed to the ideas and to the code.

Overview

 

Imitates paper Augments active reading

Reading

Reading frequently involves not just looking at words on a page, but also underlining, highlighting and commenting, either on the text or in a separate notebook. This combination of reading with critical thinking and learning is called active reading (Adler and van Doren, 1972). To explore the premise that computation can enhance active reading we have built the XLibris “active reading machine.” XLibris uses a commercial high-resolution pen tablet display along with a paper-like user interface to support the key affordances of paper for active reading: the reader can hold a scanned image of a page in his lap and mark on it with digital ink. To go beyond paper, XLibris monitors the free-form ink annotations made while reading, and uses these to organize and to search for information. Readers can review, sort and filter clippings of their annotated text in a “Reader’s Notebook.” XLibris also searches for material related to the annotated text, and displays links to similar documents unobtrusively in the margin, or as further reading lists. Finally, to help readers skim a document, XLibris can emphasize key phrases and grey out the less important text. XLibris demonstrates that computers can help active readers organize and find information while retaining many of the advantages of reading on paper.

Digital Libraries

XLibris is a digital library information appliance. Although digital libraries are intended to support education and knowledge work, current digital library interfaces are narrowly focused on retrieval. Furthermore, they are designed for desktop computers with keyboards, mice, and high-speed network connections. Desktop computers fail to support many key aspects of knowledge work, including active reading, free form ink annotation, fluid movement among document activities, and physical mobility. This is an up-to-date list of FXPAL publications on Digital Libraries.

Collaboration

We are currently revisiting issues of collaboration through annotation sharing. Here is the up-to-date list of publications on collaboration through annotation.

Related Work

Related Publications

2008
Publication Details
  • BooksOnline'08, October 30, 2008
  • Oct 30, 2008

Abstract

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Reading online poses a number of technological challenges. Advances in technology such as touch screens, light-weight high-power computers, and bi-stable displays have periodically renewed interest in online reading over the last twenty years, only to see that interest decline to a small early-adopter community. The recent release of the Kindle by Amazon is another attempt to create an online reading device. Has publicity surrounding Kindle and other such devices has reached critical mass to allow them to penetrate the consumer market successfully, or will we see a decline in interest over the next couple of years echoing the lifecycle of Softbook™ and Rocket eBook™ devices that preceded them? I argue that the true value of online reading lies in supporting activities beyond reading per se: activities such as annotation, reading and comparing multiple documents, transitions between reading, writing and retrieval, etc. Whether the current hardware will be successful in the long term may depend on its abilities to address the reading needs of knowledge workers, not just leisure readers.
2003
Publication Details
  • 7th European Conference on Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries (ECDL 2003) Trondheim, Norway, August 17-22, 2003
  • Aug 17, 2003

Abstract

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Many readers annotate passages that are important to their work. If we understand the relationship between the types of marks on a passage and the passage's ultimate utility in a task, then we can design e-book software to facilitate access to the most important annotated parts of the documents. To investigate this hypothesis and to guide software design, we have analyzed annotations collected during an earlier study of law students reading printed case law and writing Moot Court briefs. This study has allowed us to characterize the relationship between the students' annotations and the citations they use in their final written briefs. We think of annotations that relate directly to the written brief as high-value annotations; these annotations have particular, detectable characteristics. Based on this study we have designed a mark parser that analyzes freeform digital ink to identify such high-value annotations.
2002
Publication Details
  • Proceedings of ACM UIST 2002
  • Oct 27, 2002

Abstract

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Freeform digital ink annotation allows readers to interact with documents in an intuitive and familiar manner. Such marks are easy to manage on static documents, and provide a familiar annotation experience. In this paper, we describe an implementation of a freeform annotation system that accommodates dynamic document layout. The algorithm preserves the correct position of annotations when documents are viewed with different fonts or font sizes, with different aspect ratios, or on different devices. We explore a range of heuristics and algorithms required to handle common types of annotation, and conclude with a discussion of possible extensions to handle special kinds of annotations and changes to documents.
2001

Designing e-Books for Legal Research.

Publication Details
  • In Proceedings of JCDL 2001 (Roanoke, VA, June 23-27). ACM Press. pp. 41-48.
  • Jun 23, 2001

Abstract

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In this paper we report the findings from a field study of legal research in a first-tier law school and on the resulting redesign of XLibris, a next-generation e-book. We first characterize a work setting in which we expected an e-book to be a useful interface for reading and otherwise using a mix of physical and digital library materials, and explore what kinds of reading-related functionality would bring value to this setting. We do this by describing important aspects of legal research in a heterogeneous information environment, including mobility, reading, annotation, link following and writing practices, and their general implications for design. We then discuss how our work with a user community and an evolving e-book prototype allowed us to examine tandem issues of usability and utility, and to redesign an existing e-book user interface to suit the needs of law students. The study caused us to move away from the notion of a stand-alone reading device and toward the concept of a document laptop, a platform that would provide wireless access to information resources, as well as support a fuller spectrum of reading-related activities.
2000
Publication Details
  • In Proceedings of Hypertext '00, ACM Press, pp. 171-179, 2000
  • May 30, 2000

Abstract

Close
Much of hypertext narrative relies on links to shape a reader's interaction with the text. But links may be too limited to express ambiguity, imprecision, and entropy, or to admit new modes of participation short of full collaboration. We use an e-book form to explore the implications of freeform annotation-based interaction with hypertext narrative. Readers' marks on the text can be used to guide navigation, create a persistent record of a reading, or to recombine textual elements as a means of creating a new narrative. In this paper, we describe how such an experimental capability was created on top of XLibris, a next generation e-book, using Forward Anywhere as the hypernarrative. We work through a scenario of interaction, and discuss the issues the work raises
1999
Publication Details
  • In Proceedings of ACM SIGIR 99, ACM Press, pp. 19-25, 1999.
  • Aug 15, 1999

Abstract

Close
User interfaces for digital libraries tend to focus on retrieval: users retrieve documents online, but then print them out and work with them on paper. One reason for printing documents is to annotate them with freeform ink while reading. Annotation can help readers to understand documents and to make them their own. In addition, annotation can reveal readers' interests with respect to a particular document. In particular, it is possible to construct full-text queries based on annotated passages of documents. We describe an experiment that tested the effectiveness of such queries, as compared to relevance feedback query techniques. For a set of TREC topics and documents, queries derived from annotated passages produced significantly better results than queries derived from subjects' judgments of relevance.
Publication Details
  • In Proceedings of ACM Digital Libraries 99, ACM Press, pp. 77-84, 1999.
  • Aug 11, 1999

Abstract

Close
How will we read digital library materials? This paper describes the reading practices of an on-going reading group, and how these practices changed when we introduced XLibris, a digital library reading appliance that uses a pen tablet computer to provide a paper-like interface. We interviewed group members about their reading practices, observed their meetings, and analyzed their annotations, both when they read a paper document and when they read using XLibris. We use these data to characterize their analytic reading, reference use, and annotation practices. We also describe the use of the Reader's Notebook, a list of clippings that XLibris computes from a reader's annotations. Implications for digital libraries stem from our findings on reading and mobility, the complexity of analytic reading, the social nature of reference following, and the unselfconscious nature of readers' annotations.

As We May Read: The Reading Appliance Revolution.

Publication Details
  • Computer, Vol. 32, No. 1, January 1999, pp. 65-73.
  • Feb 1, 1999

Abstract

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Reading appliances allow people to work on electronic documents much as they would on paper. They therefore provide an alternative to the standard "browse or search and then print" model of reading online. By integrating a wide variety of document activities, such as searching, organizing, and skimming, and by allowing fluid movement among them, reading appliances eliminate disruptive transitions between paper and digital media.

Collaborating over Portable Reading Appliances.

Publication Details
  • In Personal Technologies, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1999.
  • Feb 1, 1999

Abstract

Close
Reading appliances or e-books hold substantial promise to help us collaborate. In this paper, we use a study of a group activity - a reading group that meets to discuss articles of mutual interest - to explore four scenarios for collaborating with e-books: (1) meetings and face-to-face discussions; (2) serendipitous sharing of annotations, as when we borrow a document from a colleague or buy a used book; (3) community-wide use of anonymous annotations to guide future readers; and (4) e-books as a basis for initiating interaction between people. In so doing, we describe some methods for implementing these facilities, and introduce design guidelines.
1998
Publication Details
  • In Proceedings of Digital Libraries 98 (Pittsburgh, PA June 23-26), ACM Press, 1998, pp. 217-226.
  • Jun 23, 1998

Abstract

Close
Although digital libraries are intended to support education and knowledge work, current digital library interfaces are narrowly focused on retrieval. Furthermore, they are designed for desktop computers with keyboards, mice, and high-speed network connections. Desktop computers fail to support many key aspects of knowledge work, including active reading, free form ink annotation, fluid movement among document activities, and physical mobility. This paper proposes portable computers specialized for knowledge work, or digital library information appliances, as a new platform for accessing digital libraries. We present a number of ways that knowledge work can be augmented and transformed by the use of such appliances. These insights are based on our implementation of two research prototype systems: XLibris,™ an "active reading machine," and TeleWeb, a mobile World Wide Web browser.
Publication Details
  • In Proceedings of Hypertext '98 (Pittsburgh, PA), ACM Press, 1998, pp. 30-39.
  • Jun 20, 1998

Abstract

Close
"Linking by inking" is a new interface for reader-directed link construction that bridges reading and browsing activities. We are developing linking by inking in XLibris,™ a hypertext system based on the paper document metaphor. Readers use a pen computer to annotate page images with free-form ink, much as they would on paper, and the computer constructs hypertext links based on the ink marks. This paper proposes two kinds of reader-directed links: automatic and manual. Automatic links are created in response to readers' annotations. The system extracts the text near free-form ink marks, uses these terms to construct queries, executes queries against a collection of documents, and unobtrusively displays links to related documents in the margin or as "further reading lists." We also present a design for manual (ad hoc) linking: circling an ink symbol generates a multi-way link to other instances of the same symbol.
Publication Details
  • In CHI 97 Extended Abstracts, ACM Press, 1997, pp. 22-23.
  • Apr 18, 1998

Abstract

Close
Reading frequently involves not just looking at words on a page, but also underlining, highlighting and commenting, either on the text or in a separate notebook. This combination of reading with critical thinking and learning is called active reading [2]. To explore the premise that computation can enhance active reading we have built the XLibris™ "active reading machine." XLibris™ uses a commercial high-resolution pen tablet display along with a paper-like user interface to support the key affordances of paper for active reading: the reader can hold a scanned image of a page in his lap and mark on it with digital ink. To go beyond paper, XXLibris™ monitors the free-form ink annotations made while reading, and uses these to organize and to search for information. Readers can review, sort and filter clippings of their annotated text in a "Reader's Notebook." XLibris™ also searches for material related to the annotated text, and displays links to similar documents unobtrusively in the margin. XLibris™ demonstrates that computers can help active readers organize and find information while retaining many of the advantages of reading on paper.

XLibris: The Active Reading Machine.

Publication Details
  • CHI 98 Summary, ACM Press, 1998, pp. 22-23.
  • Apr 18, 1998

Abstract

Close

Active reading is the combination of reading with critical thinking and learning, and involves not just reading per se, but also underlining, highlighting and commenting. We have built the XLibris™ "Active Reading Machine" to explore the premise that computation can enhance the active reading process. XLibris™ uses a high-resolution pen tablet display along with a paper-like user interface to emulate the physical experience of reading a document on paper: the reader can hold a scanned image of a page in his lap and mark on it with digital ink. XLibris™ monitors free-form ink annotations made while reading, and uses these to organize and to search for information. Readers can review, sort and filter clippings of their annotated text in a "Reader's Notebook." Finally, XLibris™ searches for material related to the annotated text, and displays links unobtrusively in the margin. XLibris™ demonstrates that computers can help active readers organize and find information while retaining many of the advantages of reading on paper.