(09/20) Interaction with Information II Annotation and Reflection

Annotations are widely used in HTML. For example, if I want to introduce WHO on my website, writing “<abbr title=”World Health Organization”>WHO</abbr>” is better than plainly writing “WHO” because the former one is able to tell browsers and search engines what “WHO” really is. Here “<abbr>” is the sign of a formal annotation. I think this is the value of annotations: providing useful information in addition to original text.

1. Marshall, C. Toward an ecology of hypertext annotation, Proc ACM Hypertext 1998, 40–49.

This paper focused on the more traditional on-paper annotation but in a hypertextual context, discussing its demensions, its value, interpreting its construction, and finally exploring its frontier — building an ecology.

First, it classified annotations. Annotations can be classified in many ways, like formality, preservation, privacy, intended usage, potential reader and so on.

Then, the author picked a typical phenomenon to do her research — the marked-up textbooks in a university’s bookstore. She observed the buyers, had interviews with them and did her research mainly by comparing those marked-up textbooks closely.

Next, which is the core part of the paper, she not only extracted common elements of those annotations on different copies of the same textbook, found out how the annotations were organized, but also dug out the value of the annotations by normalizing them and analyzing their consensus. She unveiled how the annotations helped students to read the book in a more hypertextual way, and thus helped them understand the textbook better.

I will use a living example to emphasize the importance of her work. Below is my annotations made by the time I read this very paper. I highlighted the keywords to help me comprehend. Like the author wrote in the end, these annotations may be gathered and aggregated. So that others can read this paper more efficiently.

My personal annotations towards this very paper

This is the second page of the paper. At the end of my reading, I found I was accurately predicted by the author — “personal annotation tends to drop off over time”, which was exactly what happened to me.

2. Kumiyo Nakakoji, Yasuhiro Yamamoto, Shingo Takada, and Brent N. Reeves. Two-dimensional spatial positioning as a means for reflection in design, Proc DIS 2000, 145–154.

This mainly-Japanese research team developed a computer-aided writing system called “ART”. Its featuring funtion was allowing user to put their writing fragments in a two-dimensional space, which was called two-dimensional positioning. They believed that, this method could provide an ideal medium allowing the writer to externalize his/her thoughts directly, and could minimize the interfere made by the interaction between writer and system.

This paper also mentioned two activities during a design process — reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. By tracking the subject’s eye motion during the writing process, the team proved this two-dimensional positioning mechanics really helped in both reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action.

The analysis in this paper showed strong evidence towards their conclusion: two-dimensional positioning is a powerful tool for writing as representational medium for reflection.

3. Webb, A., Kerne, A., Promoting reflection and interpretation in education: curating rich bookmarks as information composition, Proc ACM Creativity and Cognition, 2013, 53–62.

This paper introduced the concept of “rich bookmark”, implemented by a software called “InfoComposer”.

According to my understanding, “rich bookmark” is a joint of knowledge whose center is the current entry. It shows many possible relevances about the topic, providing related stories and background, and thus, can provoke connections made in the readers’s mind. As a result, it helps readers to better reflect what they see.

I think “rich bookmark” is another form of annotation. The only difference is that “rich bookmark” is generated automatically by machine. The detailed metadata semantics and visual clippings can inspire the users with new thoughts, which is helpful during curation.

Kai Zheng (525005035)

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