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


We are very excited to present our case study: the Merve Remix at the Frankfurt Bookfair. This collaborative research case study focussed on Merve Verlag’s back catalog (a selection of 100+ publications).

We deconstructed each publication, led by guiding questions such as: what is a book made of (recognizable traits), and what could a book become if the Pandora’s box of computation and digital networking was applied to publishing. We then translated the books into a machine readable structured document, allowing for all types of semi-automated, dynamic publishing processes to be applied—layout, multi-format conversion, distribution, rights management, reuse and remixing, translation, synchronized updates, payments and reading metrics.

For more information please check out the full description here.

For the Live Demo visit here: https://merve.consortium.io

We’ll be at Merve’s stand, located in Halle 3.1 – B129. Come by!

The letter box, by the berlin-based Design Research Lab (DRL), easily transforms analog input into digital data. The ritualized act of posting a letter is used to bridge the gap between the physical with the digital space. This letter box mirrors the DRL-goal that neither prior knowledge nor specific digital devices should be needed in order to take part in the sociopolitical network we are designing in order to enable communities to develop resilient actions.

The letter box transfers a hand-written message to a digital platform so the issue can be spread effectively and publics can form around the discourse possibly emerging around it. You can find more about the Box about the Hybrid Letter Box here.


Last month, Hybrid Publishing team member Michael Dieter took part in a book sprint on book sprints, the full text of which is available to download below. Part theorization, part “how to guide,” this is a first attempt to reflect on an emerging short form method of collaborative writing.

Link to the full text: http://www.booksprints.net/2014/05/book-sprint-on-book-sprints/

TIB_OSL_Stele_Seite_2-300x300The Open Science Lab at the German National Library of Science and Technology (TIB) in Hannover has invited 15 scientists to create a manual on collaborative platforms for science. The “Handbook CoScience” will be produced in a book sprint shortly before and during CeBIT 2014, the world’s No. 1 trade fair for the digital industries.

Authors from the following institutions of the research network Science 2.0 are involved in the project:

and additional authors from other research institutes, scientific publishers and infrastructure facilities. Continue Reading…

A Book Sprint brings together a group to produce a book in 3-5 days. There is no pre-production and the group is guided by a facilitator from zero to published book. The books produced are high quality content and are made available immediately at the end of the sprint via print-on-demand services and e-book formats.

Adam Hyde

oeru_screenWith the launch of OER university (OERu) there is a new institution to provide a route to formal accreditation through study of free and really open educational resources in the form of free courses and materials developed by accredited universities. OERu is in competition to the University of the People a free service which tries to develop a parallel learning universe to add value to traditional delivery systems in post-secondary education.

Coordinated by the Open Education Resource Foundation (OERF), founded and headquartered at Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin, the OERu is an independent, not-for-profit network will offer free online university courses for students worldwide. The implementation of the OERu is a designated project of the UNESCO-Commonwealth of Learning OER Chair network. This is a nice idea and interessting approach, however it will depend on the (financial) sustainability of that learning scenario, the acceptance of the and the demand by students if this will be an alternative way of learning. However it is definitely worth trying

As academic knowledge digitalizes, the libaries keep pace or even make the pace. The Higher Education Network of my old employer, The Guardian, has an interesting special on the future of libraries. Claire Shaw and her colleagues have done excellent work! I thought I quickly share some of the findings I came across. To sum it up: while all those libraries define their role quite differently, one thing is certain: digital technology is getting more and more important. This is what their plans are:

Nigeria pushes knowledge with electronic resources: The American University of Nigeria shows how technology can help to unlock knowledge – with the use of Open Access resources, as its director explicitly says. They train their stuff in using the technology and getting Open Access material. With an interesting outcome:
Total usage of ebooks: 2011: 1,889 / 2012: 45,442
Total usage of books 2011: 16,185 / 2012: 8,892
Continue Reading…

In exploring the complexities and speculative futures of academic publishing the HPL is developing new tools, systems, infrastructures and ideas within a problem space that is both trapped within feudal academic knowledge exchange system, and rapidly changing everyday. From the death of Aaron Swartz to the scurrying realignments of the big academic publishers with their digital counterparts; there is an urgency for new ideas to develop new systems that question the exclusivity, inaccessibility, narrowness, and conservativism of the feudal systems to take on a more democratic form. Knowledge managed by the few will, by necessity become knowledge managed by the many. While there are many reasons why knowledge needs to be opened, I agree with Brian Whitworth and Robert Friedman when they say the major drive for this movement will be that ‘only democratic knowledge exchange can scale up to support the breadth, speed and flexibility modern cross–disciplinary research needs.’We now find ourselves between a print past and a digital future characterized by hybrid, transitional, and in perpetual negotiation; a condition that that requires us to engage with other researchers and practitioners and to anticipate constant reinvention, and to anticipate a multiplicity of ideas. The Hybrid Publishing Lab was developed to begin tackling some of these big issues through trandisciplinary research (and design).

Continue Reading…

Software often arrives with promises to provide efficient solutions to decision-making, oversight and planning, but then proceeds to exacerbate existing problems within various regimes of work. Certainly, in the context of the university, there is a widely felt urgency to somehow manage the flood of new information management systems, archival technologies, visualization tools, social media platforms and other cloud-based commercial services in the already complex and overcrowded domains of intellectual work. The situation is frustrating, yet seemingly inescapable: how to keep up with ‘the digital,’ let alone utilize new devices and applications in critical and progressive ways, given the already considerable demands on time and resources? Technical systems and re-skilling have, of course, been a staple of scholarly life, allowing for new modes of textual production, epistemological inquiry, the generation of concepts and the pursuit of speculative aesthetics. However, there is arguably something distinct about the historical present, when networking is understood as an individual investment, when the use of personalized services relies on the expropriation of user-data, and when disposable technologies are experienced with their inevitable obsolescence already built-in. Continue Reading…

Scan from Van Ostaijen, Paul. Bezette Stad. First publication, De Sikkel, Antwerpen, 1918-1921

Scan from Van Ostaijen, Paul. Bezette Stad. First publication, De Sikkel, Antwerpen, 1918-1921

The document by Megan Hoogenboom to explore the different lives of a poem. An essay in various media.