From intertextuality to transphysicality
The changing nature of the book, reader and writer

Alan Dix1,2, Rodney Tamblyn1, Justin Leavesley1

1 Talis, Birmingham, UK
2 School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, UK

Paper presented at NordiCHI 2016 Workshop: Future of Books and Reading in HCI (Oct 2016, Gothenburg Sweden)

Download position paper (PDF, 314K) extended version (PDF, 4.69M)


Recent years have seen dramatic changes in publishing; for a while it seemed that digital technology would supplant paper media entirely.  This paper reviews some of these changes drawing on examples of systems where the authors have been involved in development or design. We touch on various issues including curation and student-generated content and the way books can become the locus of community discussions and learning. Recent reports suggest a resurgence in physical book sales and advantages of physical study methods such as paper note taking; this suggests new challenges for digital systems to augment rather than replace physical books.

Keywords: Collaborative annotation; educational technology, human–computer interaction, hypertext, locative media, physicality, reading lists

From intertextuality to transphysicality: the changing nature of the book, reader and writer from Alan Dix


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  2. A. Dix. 2016. Connecting: the Semantic HCI Textbook and Cross-Institutional Learning Analytics.  EAI Trans. on Amb. Sys. doi: 10.4108/eai.23-8-2016.151640
  3. H. Furness, 2016. Books are back: Printed book sales rise for first time in four years as ebooks suffer decline. Telegraph, 13 May 2016.
  4. F. Halasz, T. Moran, and R. Trigg. 1986. Notecards in a nutshell. Proc. CHI '87. pp. 45-52. doi: 10.1145/29933.30859
  5. E. King. 2015. Dickensiana Pincushions. (Sept. 18, 2015). Retrieved August 8, 2016 from
  6. P. Mueller and D. Oppenheimer, 2014. The pen is mightier than the keyboard: advantages of longhand over laptop note taking. Psychol Sci. 25(6):1159–68. doi: 10.1177/0956797614524581


Interactive Comic Book Mission to Planet L,
K. James & J. Allen. Tracker Books, 1973
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(photo day 4 of Alan Walks Wales)
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Alan Dix 14/9/2016