Talk Session Proposal: Interaction Traces: Reader, Interface, and the Social

I’d like to lead a conversation about the affordances of social reading environments and their implications for readers’ perception of texts, their authors, and their co-readers.  My interest in these questions draws from my research in computer-supported cooperative learning and from studying the relationships between readers, writers, and the texts they work with in online creative writing workshops. In my work, I have conceptualized the interface elements through which information about user activities are transmitted as “interaction traces”: the spectrum of comments, ratings, “likes”, timestamps, views, and other usage statistics that accumulate around texts on the web. While my research has focused primarily on user-authored texts, I believe that opening the same questions to the greater world of social reading in all its forms (and all the constituencies to whom it is relevant) will provide the opportunity for a lively and fruitful session.

Some questions to consider:

  • What is suggested to readers by the information provided on other users’ activities within a reading environment?
  • How do different representations of readers’ activities affect other readers’ perceptions of a text?
  • What potential interface elements support interaction and sociability among readers?
  • How do the public and private realms of reading and annotation collide with or obscure social reading activities?
  • How do readers intentionally and unintentionally project their social selves in these environments?
  • How do the tools of social reading respond to the expectations and different roles of co-readers (reviewer/editor/student/etc.)?
  • Are there physical/print-based analogues to the approaches and tools developed for online social reading?
  • What are the implications of differences among readers, settings, and disciplines with regard to the environments, tools, and texts we choose?

I am certain that those who have worked or taught in environments supporting the different modes of social reading and writing will have many opinions to share and additional questions to pose.  The goal of this session is to map out some of these questions and to articulate, consider, and challenge feature sets for social reading environments. Participants will leave the session with a shared vocabulary for the different elements and phenomena of interaction in social reading and a heightened sensitivity to potential triumphs and problems they might encounter in social reading environments.

Though not absolutely necessary, I would like to have a projector and screen set-up for this session in order to demonstrate and show examples. A whiteboard or flip chart would be helpful for listing and visualizing examples.

Categories: Collaboration, Digital Literacy, Session Proposals, session-talk, Social Media, Teaching |

About Patrick Williams

Librarian for Literature, Rhetoric, and Digital Humanities at Syracuse University. I am the editor of Really System, a journal of poetry and extensible poetics, and lead editor of the dh+lib Review. I received my B.A. in English from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and an M.S. ('04) and Ph.D. ('11) in Information Studies from the School of Information at The University of Texas at Austin.