(Book) Design

Future for the Annotation of Digital Objects

Organizer: Dr. Yuk Hui, Simon Worthington, Hybrid Publishing Lab, Centre for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University Lüneburg

Participants: Bob Stein (Institute for the Future of the Book, SocialBook), Christina Kral (A-machine), Claudius Teodorescu (University of Heidelberg), Andre Gaul + Nico (PaperHive), Thomas Kollatz (DARIAH), Paul-Emile Greffroy (IRI of Centre Pompidou), Johannes Wilm (Fidus Writer)

Date: 12th May (midday) – 13th May (evening)

Venue: Cent­re for Di­gi­tal Cul­tu­res, Sülz­tor­str. 21–35, 21335 Lüne­burg, 2. Floor

In the past decades, the proliferation of digital objects, the emergence of new technologies, and the globalisation of cultural objects, demand new conceptualisations and practices of annotation. Ontologies (formal ontologies, web ontologies) find their limits to fully contextualize the modes of existence of digital objects, since most of them are still derived from a narrow reflection and without considering the nature of the digital. Annotation finds its place, not only in the sense of assisting information processing and enhancing the searchability of digital objects (for the objects themselves, or in the objects), but also as interaction and concretisation of relations between the users and the objects with which they interact. This recalls us of what the ancient call Scholia, a commentary and annotation practice which finally shaped the scholiast and also the scholar. Annotation in this sense is less about classification, but closely related to learning, meaning that one learns and concretizes his or her knowledge through annotating or writing. With digital technologies, the concept of annotation has to be taken further, since it introduces semantic technologies, collaboration, sharing, recommendation. However annotation is either not taken seriously or shadowed by mere interaction, or slowly taken over by automation as in the case of Google and other semantic technologies. The workshop “Future for the annotation of digital objects”, hosted by the Hybrid Publishing Lab is an attempt to gather researchers from different disciplines, and to look into different practices and tools that have been developed and concerns which have yet to be resolved.

This two days workshop is an occasion to discuss further collaborations among researchers. We will invite international researchers who are working in the field to participate in this workshop, to map the current state of affairs and to look at different approaches to annotation of digital objects. The second aim of the workshop will be to discuss the challenges ahead and to figure out an agenda for development and for collaboration.


Noon – 19H, 12th May

Presentation of individual projects (20 minutes + 10 minutes discussion)
13:15 Introduction: Yuk Hui + Simon Worthington
13:45 -14:15 Simon Worthington + Christina Kral (A-machine)
14:15 -14:45 Claudius Teodorescu (Heidelberg)
14:45 – 15:15 Andre Gaul + Nico (PaperHive)

15:15 – 15:45 Coffee Break

15:45 – 16:15 Thomas Kollatz (DARIAH)
16:15 – 16:45 Paul-Emile Greffroy (IRI of Centre Pompidou)
16:45 – 17:15 Johannes Wilm (Fidus Writer)
Coffee Break 15 Minutes
17:30 – 18:30 Questions and Challenges
19:00 Dinner

10H – 17H, 13th May
10:00 – 11:00 Retake on Questions and Challenges from the last day
11:00 – 12:30 Bob Stein Lecture
12:30 – 13:30 Lunch
13:30 – 16:30 Addressing Problems, Challenges, Collaborations

Inquiries: Dr. Yuk HUI, yuk.hui[a]leuphana.de/ Simon Worthington, simon[a]metamute.org
Download Program and Abstracts


On Thursday and Friday (22-23 May), the international conference “Off the Press: Electronic Publishing in the Arts”, organized by our friends from the Digital Publishing Toolkit initiative, will take place in Rotterdam (NL).

Off the Press

The conference starts at the renowned Museum Bojimans van Beuningen with the sessions “Today’s Book Publishing” and “One thousand and one Publishing Workflows” (both featuring experts from all over the globe), followed by an introduction to the Digital Publishing toolkit and showcases by international artists/designers and publishers.

During the evening session at the legendary WORM, artists and designers will present their own practices and approaches to digital publishing that both take advantage of and question the current modes of content production and dissemination.

The second day begins with three parallel workshops called “Paper to Code: Transforming the Future of Reading”, “Electronic Publishing Workflows: (Multi)Markdown & Pandoc” (you’ll need a separate ticket for these workshops) and “Superglue: Reshaping the Web?” (free). The event is completed by the session “Underground e-publishing” and the “Bazaar”, in which a number of artists, publishers and other practitioners of electronic publishing will showcase their projects in an informal way, looking forward to meeting you!

For tickets and more information on the whole event, please visit: http://digitalpublishingtoolkit.org/

A Publication Taxonomy — an initial guide to academic publishing types, inside and beyond Academe


Dear Community,

Welcome to the Publication Taxonomy an exploratory listing project by the Hybrid Publishing Consortium. The Hybrid Publishing Consortium is the technology research arm of the Hybrid Publishing Lab and is made up of a team of six interdisciplinary researchers, developing open source software for multi-format publishing. Creating an exploratory taxonomy of publication types plays a role in our software design process helping us understand the boundaries of publishing forms.

When the Consortium started to compile a list of the various types of scholarly publications we had to keep in mind the challenge of a continuously changing technology landscape. This meant moving to a so called post-digital condition (although a contested term)–involving parallel usage of various media types, a new collaborative paradigm, a proliferation of tool sets and open access academic publishing.

To give some limits around what we define as a publication we agreed on three very open parameters–(1) the act of making a document public, (2) the involvement of textuality, and (3) a scholarly/academic orientation.

Acceleration best describes the overall condition for both the development of publishing and the shaping of the emergent post-digital scholar, blurring the distinction between the publishers workflow and the scholars textual creation. The renegotiation of new roles for publisher and scholar is one area where new publishing types emerge, especially where the act of reading becomes a new textual creation. An instability arises in
the scholarly workflow and how the scholar is organizing and adjusting her/his work steps within the post-digital condition. It also means an expansion of the very definition what constitutes a publication.

You are invited to edit and add to the list on GitHub, create an account and edit here


one meal is made of three dishes: starter, main, desert. left the ingredients, on top the name of the dishes, on the right the process and a time; counting down: serving time is zero. organization galore

one meal is made of three dishes: starter, main, desert. left the ingredients, on top the name of the dishes, on the right the process and a timeline; counting down: serving time is zero. organization galore

“There are many recipe books, but very few based on meals. People often pick up a cookbook at home, but have no idea how to combine the recipe into a sensible meal. This book aims to help by providing meals that have been thought out in their entirety. They have been organized into thirty-one balanced menus each one containing three courses. You can also make your own menus by combining the recipes using the list.” —The Family Meal, Ferran Adrià Continue Reading…

“The idea of “the book” guiding design of e-books has been a commonplace, grotesquely reductive and unproductive. No single book exists, so no “idea” of “the” book could be produced in any case. The multiplicity of physical structures and graphic conventions are manifestations of activity, returned to book form as conventions because of their efficacy in guiding use. The notion of a metaphor applied to an element like a table of contents is highly misleading. This is not a metaphor at all, but a program, a set of instructions for performance. By looking to scholarly work for specific understanding of varieties of attitudes towards the book as literal space and a virtual e-space, and to artists and poets for evidence of the way the spaces of a book work, we realize that the traditional codex is also, in an important and suggestive way, already virtual. But also, that the format features of virtual spaces of e-space, electronic space, have yet to encode conventions of use within their graphical forms. As that happens, we will witness the conceptual form of virtual spaces for reading, writing, and exchange take shape in the formats that figure their functions in layout and design.” —Johanna Drucker

composition no 1: the box of unbound pages

composition no 1: the box of unbound pages

The Guardian released an article on Marc Saporta’s Composition No. 1, which was first conceived in 1961, and re-born digitally (~2011) as an iPad app by Visual Editions.

composition no1: the ipad app

composition no1: the ipad app

“[…] the overall effect is one of poetic parataxis, disjunctive but coherent.

I’d feared the stochastic arrangement might lessen the overall thrust of the piece—why read to the last page when any page could be the last?—but I hurried to reach the ending. Another reader may have ended on a note of circularity. (“The couch, along the wall, is covered with a Mexican serape. Dagmar is sitting there with her legs folded under her. Above her head, contrasting violently with her blond hair, the dark abstract painting with clots of color that seem to be on fire is still unfinished. It is called Composition No. 1.”) My Composition ended with a bloody ambush of a hideout by the Germans, while two French fighters, sitting quietly out in the woods, listened to the screams. The last line—“A tall German woman with queenly bearing nonchalantly crosses the barnyard. She would be beautiful without her uniform.”—might have had little significance elsewhere, but here I was stunned by its eerily flat tone and sculptural asymmetry. It was not so much what the author did that was impressive, but what he, deliberately, did not.” —Robert Moor

instructions again

instructions again

Reminds me of the Book of Answers, now also available as iPad app, and Brian Eno & Peter Schmidt’s Opaque Strategies.

Inside the Kindle

Rather than the book as a service, I like to think to the book as directory: simply a .zip file containing all these different formats, possibly provided by the publishing houses or the authors themselves through their own websites. The book, not bound anymore to a software, a device, a platform or a company, will then be easily read, annotated, copy-pasted, shared and reworked. The book will return to be a user-oriented technology. – Silvio Lorusso (@silvi0l0russo) via digitalpublishingtoolkit.org

Tate Modern provides online resources, that accompany their public exhibitions. These resources are primarily aimed at educators to prepare for their visit and embed the exhibition into their syllabus. These packages can become solid companions, providing a next level experience of the exhibition, not limited to educators.

the activities range between hands-on exercises of drawing, collecting, name, making things and more reflective exercises the support discussion and contemplation

the activities range between hands-on exercises of drawing, collecting, name, making things and more reflective exercises the support discussion and contemplation

An educator’s pack comes in different shapes and volume. In very basic terms, it is a website or downloadable pdf with general background information on the artist and the show; splitting up the material into various over-arcing themes. There are anecdotes, trivia and biographical facts. There are various types of activities and forms of engagement, there are images and links to further reading.

educator's pack, how to become engaging and get the most out of an exhibition

educator’s pack, how to become engaging and get the most out of an exhibition

Consider this concept for other forms of publishing. Publications that facilitate thorough engagement with the content
Consider exercises to add the level of experience and emotion—a catalyst to learning

sample page

sample page

the atom of the grid, infinitely expandable and versatile

the atom of the grid, infinitely expandable and versatile

“The Open Structures project explores the possibility of a modular construction model where everyone designs for everyone on the basis of one shared geometrical grid. It initiates a kind of collaborative meccano to which everybody can contribute parts, components and structures.”

modular cuisine, a grid provides

modular cuisine, a grid provides

“Can we design hardware like we design software?” is the guiding questions driving the developments of OpenStructures.

All OpenStructures should be conceived as interdependent, dynamic puzzles.
This means that they should be designed for disassembly and according to the same dimensional framework (the OS grid).

There are a few principles guiding the project. Design for disassembly: Favor assembly techniques that allow deconstruction without damage or loss in order to facilitate the re-use of components. Design with recyclable materials: Favor, whenever possible, 100% synthetical or biological recyclable materials for your parts and components in order to support infinite material cycles. (after disassembly). Design from the OS grid: Use the OS grid as a design tool when choosing dimensions, assembly points or interconnecting diameters
in order to make your parts compatible with those of others.

Let’s look at Open Structures from a dynamic publishing perspective. There is rule-based design supported by a very flexible grid. With the pre-condition that the modules are self-standing, distinguishable yet interdependent. And they can be connected in various fashions to create new structures, systems, or stories.

What would be the parts and components in writing? Quotes, ideas, arguments, problems, facts, visualizations, lists, etc.? What would happen if writing started from a grid? Along with a set of rules to guide the writing process, and the goal to create components and parts that can be assembled in multiple ways creating new meanings and new stories? A first attempt to answer the three rules above in terms of publishing (this will need to be revised!): 1 write in short and concise form, that is self-standing yet allows for connection. 2 write sustainable—creating material that allows for further use and application 3 Use a grid or a platform to start your writing. That would be writing keeping its modular capacity in mind.

A bit like dance, too. How dances are created, how they are taught and altered. They are copied, mashed up techniques and choreographies, routines, steps, and translated emotions etc. In other words: a vibrant mixture of rules, parts, components and structures. The grid (perhaps the dance floor) to bring it all together and to bring it to live.

closed modular system vs. open modular system, clearly.

closed modular system vs. open modular system, clearly.

open structures

open structures


how to read this book

I took the description of how to navigate through this book experience from the book’s website.

  1. Navigation. The top row lists the chapters in the book. You can choose your chapter (there are nine of them) by title. The second row lists the number of ‘pages’ in the chapter. There are 25 page cards, divided into sets of five. Clicking on a button in the second row will take you to that set. Some chapters have figures. The figure link appears at the end of the second row and pops up a new window.
  2. Link into the past. These links show the corresponding pages (as much as possible) to the original GAM3R 7H30RY 1.1 version. Sometimes things have changed, sometimes they stay the same. Explore and find out!
  3. The page cards. Oh novelty. You can click on a card to bring it to the front. The comments associated with that card will appear on the right (E). The number in the corner is the page title (it is also the paragraph number in the book. Yes, Ken writes in numbered paragraphs)
  4. The title is also a permalink. If you think that this particular paragraph is worth sharing, you can click on the title and copy out the link that appears in the top. Send that to your friends and they’ll be able to get right to your favorite parts.
  5. The comments on a particular page card. You can leave a comment on the card, in which case you use the “Leave a new comment” link, or you can resopnd to a comment that has already been made, using the “Reply to comment” that appears below each comment. Discussion will accumulate. Luckily, you can scroll.
  6. This is a short list of the most recent comments/discussion in the forum. You can click on of the titles to go right to that topic, or use the Go To Forum link to check out the full discussion from the top.
  7. Search it. More comprehensive than a book index. Faster too.
  8. More navigation: flip through the pages using these arrows. You can start at page 1 and go all the way to the end if you want. Or you can start at page 225 and read it backwards. We’re flexible.
  9. The running footer. A leftover convention from book design, we’ve added a link to that glorious networked bookk, Wikipedia. Find out more about the games, or if you’re feeling ambitious, write more about them. Because you can do that.
  10. The footer. Links to the FAQ, about the author, and to the page where you can subscribe to the feed (if you prefer a feed reader to this interface). Also, on the right, a way to contact us, find out more about the Institute for the Future of the Book, and the Creative Commons License.
  • Notes! We’ve included all the endnotes (which included some of the comments from GAM3R 7H30RY 1.1). Keep your eye out for the small asterisks. Find one and click to get a pop up with all the notes for that card.
the book broken up into a stack of cards. each one can be commented on the write. this seemed an important feature to improve and change from version 1 to the current.

the book broken up into a stack of cards. each one can be commented on the right margin. this seemed an important feature to improve and change from version 1 to the current.

the table of content to this book—an exploration in form or a book turned into a website

the table of content to this book—an experimentation in form or a book turned into a website

This has become a common feature in digital publishing to explain how to navigate through the book and find orientation. Another example for a tablet Magazine can be found in this post.

Also Gamer Theory very much reminds me of the set of the Debord’s Society of the Spectacle.


A virtual book club, reading the Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, with a thorough conversation in the margins. Since the readers who were invited to comment were very committed and competent this could serve as a dynamic and very personal kind of cliff notes (which is now also available online).

billboard in full size

billboard in full size

“In version three of his Billboard book series, British artist Jonathan Monk sets out with British designers OK-RM to design, well, a very British-looking publication. All the more so because conventions of paper-folding and book-binding (adapted through an ingenious scheme of the designers), have been itemized — with the measurement “Royal” as a guide. […] And the result is…Italian? In the wink of an eye, the great bookmakers of fifteenth century Venice call out to us, as OK-RM have chosen to turn individual versions of the billboard into books of diminishing shapes so that each billboard is offered in ever smaller classic book form. If you stack all the books on top of each other, in a kind of Origami way, the thing that emerges is nothing so much as a Fibonacci rhythm.”

billboard broken down into 5 smaller sizes

billboard broken down into 5 smaller sizes

Published Autumn 2012
Edition of 5 copies per format
with 3 artist’s proofs (for each format)
and 3 copies hors commerce
All copies are numbered and signed by the artist.

Each book is accompanied by the twenty royal sheets which compose the billboard.

Book description:
Concept: Jonathan MonkDesign: OK-RMColophon photograph: Daniel AlexanderFormats:508 × 317 mm – 80 pages317 × 254 mm – 160 pages254 × 158 mm – 320 pages158 × 127 mm – 640 pages127 × 79 mm – 1280 pages

Printing: Cassachrome, Belgium Formats:
508 × 317 mm – 20 x 12.5 in. 80 pages
317 × 254 mm – 12.5 x 10 in. 160 pages
254 × 158 mm – 10 x 6.2 in. 320 pages
158 × 127 mm – 6.2 x 5 in. 640 pages
127 × 79 mm – 5 x 3.1 in. 1280 pages

Printing: Cassochrome, Belgium
Photography: Daniel Alexander