Revolutionary reading, evolutionary toolmaking: (Re)development of scholarly reading and annotation tools in response to an ever-changing scholarly climate

James MacGregor, Michael Joyce, Brett Hirsch, Cara Leitch, Ray Siemens, Chia-Ning Chiang, Rick Kopak


As the online scholarly landscape changes, so too must the tools used to traverse it.  The Public Knowledge Project Reading Tools provides readers a bridge from online scholarly content to a host of contextual information, to a number of discipline-specific search engines and databases, and to other tools. A lot has changed since it was originally released, such as the rise of Google Scholar as the de facto starting point for many novice (and not-so novice) researchers; the blurring line between desktop and web applications; and the increased professional use of social networking tools and websites. Recently, the University of Victoria's Electronic Textual Cultures Lab, in cooperation with the PKP, undertook a study to determine the role and value of the existing Reading Tools, particularly in the context of Humanities Computing. The ETCL has also developed a prototype Professional Reading Environment which has been the basis for substantial analysis. Rick Kopak and Chia-Ning Chiang at the University of British Columbia have undertaken a broad survey of the online annotation landscape, and have written a proposal for developing an annotation system for PKP software. This paper discusses how, using this research as a base and in cooperation with UBC and the PKP, the ETCL has begun a large-scale redevelopment of the PKP Reading Tools, extending the current toolset to include new social networking and research tools, as well as a robust personal annotation system, making social annotation possible between small groups and the public.


reading tools, text tools, knowledge environment, Professional Reading Environment (PKP), social networks

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