Week 11: Trip to the future

If I had a time machine, I would like to go to the future. Events of the past have shaped where we are today, and the book as we know it has developed from these events. I am most interested in seeing what the book and methods of transferring information will look like in 50 years. Technology is advancing at such a rapid rate that the way we interact with the book may be completely different from what it is today, or it may be the same with slight changes to reflect the newest technology.

I would have many questions and comments to make once I took in what the future is like, but I would have one message to pass on to the people of the future. Marlena has brought up an very interesting perspective for this weeks post and her post has sparked my message for people in the future. The book is a means of preserving and sharing information, regardless of what form it takes. I would tell the people of the future to make sure they do not forget the true purpose of the book, and to create books in a way that they continue to hold true to this purpose.

We have looked at many forms of the book and discovered the way in which technological advancements have changed the way we interact with the book. But regardless of the form, the common root is the transfer and preservation of information. I would like to see what new forms are created for the book, and to tell people of the future to ensure the preservation and transfer of information for individuals across all walks of life.

Week 10: Ownership

This weeks blog question brought to mind issues with ownership and movies. Similar to the thrill of purchasing a physical book, I would get excited when I went to Blockbuster and browsed their clearance DVD collection on Friday nights. I would spend more time deciding on which movies to buy then I did watching them. After a few years, I have quite a large collection of DVDs that I can take with me anywhere I go and that I can use across devices. With the introduction of online movie purchasing options through iTunes and similar services, I purchase or rent my movies through these services instead of the physical DVD.

Although the online shopping experience makes purchasing movies easier and doesn’t require me to leave my house, it has its draw backs. The main one being that I have experienced issues with not having access to content  across devices. With a DVD, you can play in through your DVD player or laptop by simply inserting the disk. As long as you have the physical disk, you will have access to the content (assuming the disk is in good condition). With movies purchased through iTunes, you need to be signed into you iTunes account on the device and should have access to all of your purchases. However, I have previously purchased a movie on a laptop and when I tried to view it though iTunes on Apple TV, the movie was not present in my iTunes account on my AppleTv.

Recall thing this experience made me really consider the concept of ownership in a world where everything is online or in the cloud and we no longer need to purchase physical objects. It brings to mind questions about how we can own something that we do not physically have or see and whether we can really consider this a true concept of ownership. Considering the way in which we purchase movies online, are we being granted ownership or access to the movie? I think it is the latter, but I would love to hear what you think.

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Week 9: Initial idea for the final essay

As Stephanie mentioned, we will be working together on continuing the encoding challenge. However, in case we were not able to go on with this idea, I thought of a back-up plan.

I was playing around with the idea of looking further into my post about “Star Touch”, the new app by the Toronto Star. I was really interested in the idea of the page, and how the page has changed with new developments in technology. I wanted to continue my exploration of the app, comparing the way in which content is presented in the app vs the physical newspaper. I also wanted to consider how the app made use of the digital space, the pros and cons of presenting the content in the app format, and the additional features that were included in the app, such as videos. I would possibly look at other apps, such as the National Geographic apps, and compare the idea of the page in these apps to the traditional idea of the page.

Although I will not be developing this idea into a full essay for this course, I may return to this idea at another time as I am very interested with the concept of the page and the representation of content.

Week 8: Content and Containers

I was inspired by David’s post about movie mistakes that were not caught during editing when considering my example for this weeks blog post. I chose to look movies presented in the form of VHS vs DVD. Although we can move through a movie on VHS using the rewind and fast forward options, it is very difficult to pinpoint the exact moment where we want to stop. I can remember countless times trying to fast forward through movie trailers at the beginning of a movie but going too far, then having to rewind to find the start of the featured film. In this way, the seamless content is constantly being disrupted by the viewers desire to move through the VHS, skipping movie trailers, to access the featured film. But by moving through the VHS, the chances that the viewer will stop at the correct moment before the feature starts are very slim, so the viewer is caught in a rewind and fast forward battle.

With the DVD, the container has adapted more efficiently to the desire of the viewer and created an easier way to move through the content. We now have the option to move directly to the featured film with the press of one button that takes the viewer to the main menu of the DVD. We also have scene selections which makes it easier to move through the film to find exact scenes the viewer is interested in without having to spend a long time fast forwarding through the entire feature.

Prior to the DVD, the content of held in a VHS was constantly being disrupted in an in efficient way as the viewer tried to move through the different sections of the VHS to reach the featured film. The DVD has minimized the disruption of content, allowing the viewer to more easily move throughout the content.

How I read and why

When I first thought about how I read, I was shocked to realize that I have not read a paper book in almost a year. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good paper book. The smell of a brand new book, the feeling of turning the page and seeing the progress I’ve made after spending an hour reading. But now that I actually think about how I read, I realized that I read everything from my iPad mini since I bought it last summer.

I originally purchased my iPad mini as a tool to be used for school work since my laptop is outdated, slow and really heavy. I bought it under the impression that I would use it to take notes, read assigned texts, and have on the go access to Google drive to make changes to projects wherever I was. This was the perfect solution to my laptop problem that would not break my back or my bank. When I purchased the iPad I was still reading my leisure books in print, and the iPad was used solely for academic purposes. But I eventually found audio books that I could download on my iPad, and now I could finish a book while completing quality assurance at my job at Scholars Portal. Then I realized I can also download e-books onto my iPad and have access to multiple books at once without carrying them around with me. Looking back, I think this was the tipping point for me in terms of turning from paper print to electronic (and audio) versions.

Thinking about why I moved from one format to the other, I realized it had a lot to do with my life style. I commute for a good 90-120 minutes everyday to get to and from campus for work or lectures. Since I spend almost all day on campus, I need to prepare a meal or two and haul it around with me all day. On top of this, I have a gym bag. When you add it all up, I am practically a pack mule. So when I realized that I can have my books, notes, readings, emails, etc., all in a compact iPad mini, I slowly stopped using paper. I still have some classes for which I prefer to hand write my notes, but for the most part, everything I read is off of a screen since I purchased my iPad mini.

As for the specific format, I use the GoodNotes app for downloading readings and lecture slides, and Overdrive for downloading all of my e-books and audio books. A friend of mine introduced me to both of these apps and I am really happy with them. GoodNotes allows you to highlight, add text and shapes directly into a document, and you can also export and import documents. I also have all of my documents categorized based on course, which makes it easy to find everything I need. GoodNotes also has thumbnail views making it really easy to move through a document. GoodNotes has been a great solution to bringing a laptop to lectures.

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As much as I love using my iPad, I still miss paper books and I can see myself shifting back to using and buying paper books once my schedule is less hectic and I am less of a pack mule. Although it is very convenient to have everything I need on a devise, I have noticed that my eyes are beginning to hurt from all of the on screen reading I do.


Week 6: The Page in the Digital Era

For this weeks blog, I took a look at the new app for the Toronto Star called “Star Touch”. After seeing numerous advertisements for the new app, I was curious to see how the layout compares to the traditional view of a page in the newspaper.


The app has definitely taken a new approach to presenting content, making it more interactive and taking advantage of the digital medium to include more images and multimedia features. The app allows the reader to highlight words and gives the options to copy, define, or search Wikipedia (I apologize for the blurry image).


Each “page” (a page referring to the content presented when one option is selected since the traditional term for a page within a newspaper can no longer be applied in this case) presents the content of an article in a column style view. In order to read the entire column, the reader scrolls down the column and can read through the article. In this way, the Star Touch continues to present the newspaper in a somewhat traditional format by holding on to the idea that newspapers present content in a column format.


The app also allows the reader to view the article in “Full screen”, which opens individual column in a “page” with black text on a white background. This page goes even further and offers an automatic scroll down option (readers can control the speed) and three text views (Normal, Sepia and Night). This feature is great for individuals, like myself, who find the illustrates in the “page” very distracting.

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However, there are also a number of instances where content was presented in a way that is unique to digital versions of newspapers. If you see the example below, the content of these commentaries only appears when the individual option is selected.  This content would traditionally be represented in a side column on the same page of the article, allowing the reader to take in all the information and available content at a glance (see image below for a comparison of the more “traditional” view of a newspaper article). The Star Touch breaks down some articles into sections, making the reader click through numerous “pages” in order to get all the content related to the article.

Star Touch View
“Traditional” View

Piper’s hope is that “we continue to look beyond the page”. I think that the Star Touch app has reinvented the way that we view a page within the newspaper by changing the way we view the page to adapt to the medium by which it is delivered. Star Touch embraced the technology that would be presenting the content, and encourages the reader to touch, read and view the content within. I think it has really lived up to its advertisements in which it boasts at having reinvented the way we look at news. I think that Star Touch has looked beyond the page, and created a more interactive way of engaging with the content.


Piper, Andrew. “Turning the Page (Roaming, Zooming, Streaming).” InBook Was There: Reading in Electronic Times, 45-61. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.




Travel Guides: An Encoding Challenge

Stephanie and I decided on Karl Baedeker’s “Southern France Including Corsica: Handbook for Travellers” (1907) for the encoding challenge. Stephanie had previously spent some time in Nice and we are both fascinated by the format and content of the guide.IMG_0520

Here’s a little history: Beadeker’s guides set the standard for authoritative travel guides and introduced information on routes, accommodations and travel, an innovation at the time. Beadeker created guides that focused on the traveler and reader. The guides featured information regarding transportation, restaurants, tipping, sights, and prices for a variety of things, including taxi fares. In addition, the guides include “pull out” maps that are referred to throughout the tex. These guides were designed to provide maximum coverage of the destination so that the traveler would not be required to look for information outside of the guide.

IMG_0526Since these guides contain a boat load of information, they are very dense and detailed (see the image below). Some challenges we will face for encoding will arise when it comes to decisions on format and content. The guides were formatted to fit the most content in the smallest amount of space. This resulted in large paragraphs containing content that is better presented in a list format. Our challenge will be to determine if we want to focus on presenting a true encoding of the material, in both content and format, or if we want to focus our attention on presenting the content in a different format, like including lists.


Another challenge we will face is encoding the references to the maps included in the guides or the references to other pages in the book. It will be interesting to play around with XML tagging to find a way to adequately represent these cross references.

image4Both Stephanie and I are super excited to take on this challenge and can’t wait to see how it turns out!


Week 4: Colonial Despatches

Having a deep passion for history, my attention was almost immediately drawn to the University of Victoria’s “Colonial Despatches” project presented in the TEI project list. The project is a digital archive containing “transcriptions of virtually the complete correspondences between the British colonial authorities and the successive governors of the nascent Vancouver Island and British Columbia colonies”, among other historically valuable documents. These artifacts provide the history of Vancouver Island and British Columbia from 1846 to 1871 from the perspective of the individuals that were closely tied to the governance and development of the land, its resources and its population.

The original project was created in the 1980s using files encoded in Waterloo Script ( a text-encoding language processed using SCRIPT). These files have now been converted into XML, and the University of Victoria has built a web application to make these files readable and searchable. The files were converted into XML based on TEI P5 Guidelines.

The project provides a detailed guideline that outlines the mark-up scheme used for each record. This document demonstrates how the TEI guidelines were used in the creation of the XML files. The project guide also includes details about the tags used within the markup, offering an explanation for the purpose of the tag and examples on how to use them.

The XML code for all documents in the project are available to the public, making this a very useful example for our own encoding challenge if you are working with handwritten or annotated works.


Colonial Despatches: The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871. University of Victoria (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/about.htm

Week 2

When I first read the blog question for this week, I could’t think of a book to discuss. After reading some of your earlier posts, a few childhood pop-up books and the like came to mind, but nothing in my memory really stuck out. However, when I went back to my notes on the Kirschenbaum and Werner reading, a light bulb turned on and I almost yelled “Eureka!”. Werner discusses annotations made by authors and readers, and the influence such annotations have on the content of the book. Werner also touches on  Annotated Books Online, the digital archive of early modern annotated books.

It was Werner’s discussion of annotation that brought to mind the Northrop Frye collection found at the E.J. Pratt Library at UofT. The collection includes material that was annotated by the literary scholar, among other items. It is interesting to note that is it not the books that give the collection its rarity but the annotations within these books that give them their true value. Frye’s personal thoughts are hand written between the margins of these books, giving them an additional dimension and influence, if not change, the meaning presented by the original author of the books.

This collection also came to mind because the annotations within the books pose a challenge for some forms of digital reading. I work for the Accessible Content E-Portal, as service offered by OCUL that provides digitized scans of materials for students with accessibility needs, offering these books in a variety of accessible formats. When selecting materials to scan for this service, I look for books with no marginalia. In cases where there has been marginalia made with a pencil, I am required to remove this marginalia so that it does not interfere with the OCR’s ability to translate the content of the PDF into a text format. However, removing these annotations is upsetting to some users who want to have the same experience as other readers, including the flow of thoughts of pervious readers. The additional dimension added with annotations is unobtainable for these users, and they cannot experience the affect they have on the original material.

If you would like more information about the Northrop Frye collection, please visit this website.

If you are interested in the ACE project, there is more information found here.


A late greeting

Hello everyone!

My name is Aneta Kwak, I am a second year LIS and KMIM student with one last semester to go! I completed my undergraduate studies here at UofT in History and Polish Studies.

I am interested in pursuing a career in academic librarianship and felt that this course will bring to light current trends and issues in the digital humanities. I also heard many great things about Professor Galey and his teaching, so this class was the perfect fit.

As for my personal interests, I am an avid skier and angler, so my weekends are booked all year round. I also have an adorable chihuahua named Rambo (yes, he is as tough and fierce as his name suggests).

I look forward to our discussions, and for those who are graduating this June, we’re almost there!!