Prof Alan Liu, Distinguished Seminar, 2pm, 4th July 2007, IOCT, De Montfort University, Leicester

AlanLiu2002-thumb.jpgHow Can We Improve Online Reading? — The University of California Transliteracies Project

Browse, jump, search, filter, aggregate, bookmark, annotate — these signature reading practices of the Internet are both our history and future. History, because recent research in the history of the book, history of reading, and cognitive science fields shows that “extensive” reading across an amplitude of texts (contrasted with intensive, holy, or close reading) have had a long evolution. They were complaining about information overload as early as the 17th-century. Future, because even amid the flood of multimedia, text is extending in new ways. Much of so-called “Web 2.0” is text-centric: e.g., blogs, wikis, social networking, folksonomical tagging (not to mention ever-present email).

What are the innovations of input (e.g., “reputation” or “social-networking” methods of negotiating between expert and folk markup of text), processing (e.g., data mining), and output (e.g., text visualization) that can improve online reading? What does “improve” actually mean when measured against the long baseline of the history of reading as opposed to the quarterly stock market valuation of the latest businesses? And who is the “we” (“our”) that provides the proper perspective upon the issues, given the fact that in the age of Wikipedia the contest has been reopened between “experts” and the so-called “rule of many”?

The University of California Transliteracies Project was started in 2005 to bring together humanists, social scientists, and computer scientists from across the multi-campus UC system to study these issues from a cross-disciplinary perspective.

In this Distinguished Seminar, Alan Liu, who directs the UC Transliteracies Project, will present the current research and approaches of the project as a lens through which to think about, and consider improving, online reading.

Alan Liu is Professor in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Wordsworth: The Sense of History (Stanford Univ. Press, 1989); The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2004); and Local Transcendence: Essays on Postmodern Historicism and the Database (forthcoming, Univ. of Chicago Press). He is principal investigator of the UC Multi-campus Research Group, Transliteracies: Research in the Technological, Social, and Cultural Practices of Online Reading; principal investigator of the UCSB Transcriptions Project (Literature and the Culture of Information); and co-director of his English Department’s undergraduate specialization on Literature and the Culture of Information. His other online projects include Voice of the Shuttle and (as general editor) The Agrippa Files. Liu is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO). He is Editor of the UC New Media directory.

This seminar at the Institute of Creative Technologies is organised by the Production and Research in Transliteracy (PART) group at De Montfort University. The event is free and open to the public. Directions IOCT Salon.