INKE began in 2004-5 as HCI-Book: Human-Computer Interface and the Electronic Book, a Strategic Research Cluster supported by SSHRC shortly thereafter. Initially, the project focused on three main research questions:

  • What do we really know about the ways in which we interact with new texts that replace the print artifact and re-present to us the knowledge and experience of the past, as well as deliver the direct-to-digital record of the present?
  • How do we understand the ways in which we interact with these knowledge objects, and the information they contain?
  • How do we understand the impact that the confluence of media formats in these digital objects has on our use of them, such that we may best facilitate interaction with the new digital artifact?

HCI-Book members

The HCI-Book group was comprised of researchers and stakeholders at the forefront of computing in the humanities, text analysis, information studies, usability and interface design. The network was led by Canadian scholars, but includes members from the USA and the UK. It was comprised of those who are best-poised to understand the nature of the human record as it intersects with the computer.

Key research objectives

The working group worked to identify the central issues relating to the digitization of the human record and to act on that identification, to the end of:

  • 1. Understanding and describing the basic principles of humanistic interaction with knowledge objects (digital and analog alike)
  • 2. Articulating core strategies for the design of humanistic knowledge objects, especially electronic books, based on this understanding
  • 3. Suggesting basic principles necessary for evaluating and implementing current technologies, and exploring future ones.

The team for this cluster was comprised of key researchers in textual studies, computing in the humanities, computer-assisted textual analysis, information studies, usability, and interface design, many of whom are associated with key organisations, initiatives, and ongoing research projects associated with the creation, dissemination, reception, and impact of digital text, and have connection to essential stakeholders in the research being addressed by the group. The core of this group was made up of the co-applicants (Siemens, Dobson, and Ruecker), each of whose research work lay directly in the key areas related to understanding the electronic book; they undertook both research and organizational roles within this cluster. The collaborators and consultants, both national and international, participated in the final design of the cluster’s collaborative activities, were involved in the consultative activities, and co-authored the cluster’s output; typically, collaborators also represented the interests of stakeholders in the work advanced by this group.

The pertinent experience of the cluster participants to their roles at the time of HCI-Book is outlined, briefly, below.


  • Ray Siemens (CRC in Humanities Computing, Associate Professor of English, U Victoria). His research has followed the intersection of computational methods and those at the foundation of literary studies, specifically in areas of textual editing, document encoding, interpretation and criticism, and electronic scholarly publication. He is President [English] of the Society for Digital Humanities / Société pour l’étude des médias interactifs, is director of the Digital Humanities Summer Institute, and was project leader for the HSSFC report, the Credibility of Electronic Publication. He will coordinate the research cluster and its communication of results.
  • Teresa Dobson (Assistant Professor in Language and Literacy Education, U British Columbia) is an emerging expert on the way in which people read, use, and interact with electronic editions. Dobson’s doctoral thesis on this topic won the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies Dissertation of the Year Award (2002). As well, she recently received the British Columbia Educational Technology Users Group Innovation Award for her research and teaching using emerging technologies for writing (2004). Dobson’s current research, which is funded by the SSHRC Initiative on the New Economy, examines reading and writing processes in new media environments. Her insights into this aspect of the relationship between audiences and electronic books will be invaluable.
  • Stan Ruecker (Assistant Professor in Humanities Computing and English, U Alberta) brings an extensive background in visual arts and humanities computing, and is an early innovator in bringing to bear issues of functionality and underlying computing technologies in the design of effective human computer interfaces, data design, interface structure and aesthetics. Ruecker’s current research includes a SSHRC Standard Research Grant on computer interfaces for humanities visualization, and a Mellon Foundation sub-award on interface design for data mining processes. Other current projects include a study of the descriptive use of colour by children in expressing emotion, an online system for comparisons of ethical perception through image sequencing, and the potential application of a visually-patterned alphabet for non-phonetic teaching of English reading skills for Chinese children.

Research Collaborators

  • Wendy Duff (Information Studies, U Toronto) is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Information Studies, working primarily in user studies, archival description, and electronic records, and currently focusing on the information-seeking behaviour of archival users, archival reference; she is principle investigator on a research project funded by Electronic Resource Preservation.
  • David Gants (English, UNB) is Canada Research Chair in Humanities Computing, working to develop a new generation of digital publications that incorporate the power of hypermedia and computer networks to investigate textual culture.
  • Geoffrey Rockwell (School of the Arts, McMaster U; TAPoR PI and Director; http://www.tapor.ca): The Text Analysis Portal for Research [TAPoR] is a multi-nodal collaborative venture toward the study of text analysis’ practice and application in community environments. It provides a unique human and computing infrastructure for text analysis across the country through six regional centres which comprise its research portal.
  • Christian Vandendorpe (French, U Ottawa) is Professor of French Literature, specialising in cognitive semiotics, hypertextual theory, and didacticism. He is President [French] of SDH/SEMI.
  • Claire Warwick (SLAIS, U College, London) is lecturer in electronic communication at the School of Library, Archive and Information Studies and Programme Director for the MA in Electronic Communication and Publishing. Her work has addressed the ways in which humanists use electronic resources, and the impact of electronic technologies on humanistic activity.

Research Consultants

  • Michael Best (Emeritus, U Victoria; ISE Co-ordinating Editor; http://ise.uvic.ca/): The Internet Shakespeare Editions (ISE) makes available scholarly editions in a format native to the electronic medium. The principal audience for the editions are Shakespeare scholars and advanced students at the university/college level, with the intended accommodation of more general readerships. ISE editions provide a powerful and widely accessible scholarly and teaching resource, encourage a community of scholars, capitalise on the hypertext capabilities of electronic text, and archive digitized images, sound, and video.
  • Julia Flanders (Brown U; TEI Chair http://www.tei-c.org/): The Text Encoding Initiative Consortium (TEI) is one of the foremost products and research organs of the digital humanities community, having coordinated the efforts of humanities scholars and markup theorists to develop a powerful, nuanced, and responsive text encoding standard for the humanities. Exemplary results of this work include electronic archives and research collections, electronic journals and monographs, support for textual analysis research, and tagged, searchable collections in a variety of media.
  • Alan Galey (SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in English and Film Studies, U Alberta) specializes in Renaissance drama and the digital humanities. His postdoctoral project is titled “Visualizing Editions: Interface Research and Design for Electronic Texts in the Humanities.” This project seeks to develop interface design principles, implemented in an open-source code library, that reflect the diverse ways humanists engage with texts. His postdoctoral project combines his primary research activities in literary studies, textual studies, and humanities computing, and builds on his research on Shakespeare and theories of the archive. He is also involved in electronic editing projects such as the Electronic New Variorum Shakespeare and the Internet Shakespeare Editions.
  • Bertrand Gervais (UQAM, NT2 Director: http://figura.uqam.ca/equipe/nt2-0): Nouvelles Experiences de la Textualite (NT2) explores new forms of texts and textuality, specially the way in which they are received as literary and cultural objects – as transmitted by the electronic medium with the mediation of the computer.
  • Karon MacLean (Associate Professor of Computer Science, U British Columbia), works to restore physicality to computer interaction, using haptic (touch sense) force feedback as part of a multisensory HCI design toolbox (e.g. in manipulating streaming media, drawing and sculpting, controlling musical instruments, affective displays, and computer-mediated communication).
  • Steve Ramsay (English, U Georgia) explores literary-critical interpretation as dependent upon self-conscious reconfigurations of textual artefacts.
  • Susan Schreibman (Assoc. Dean, Digital Library, U Maryland) is founder and General Editor of the Thomas MacGreevy Archive, and Irish Resources in the Humanities.
  • Colin Swindells (Computer Science, U British Columbia) is a Ph.D. student specialising in computer-interface design.
  • Leslie Weir (Librarian, U Ottawa ; CARL VP and President-Elect; http://www.carl-abrc.ca/): The Canadian Association of Research Libraries / Association des bibliothèques de recherche du Canada (CARL/ABRC) provides leadership to the Canadian academic research library community through enhancing scholarly communication and assisting members to provide full support for postgraduate study and research. In collaboration with the academic community, this is achieved through the pursuit of long-term programmes in the areas of information policy, resource sharing, and scholarly communication.
  • John Willinsky (Education, UBC; Director, PKP; https://pkp.sfu.ca/): The Public Knowledge Project (PKP) is dedicated to exploring how new technologies can improve the professional and public value of scholarly research. It investigates the social, economic, and technical issues entailed in the use of online infrastructure and knowledge management strategies to improve both the scholarly quality and public accessibility and coherence of this body of knowledge in a sustainable and globally accessible form. It seeks to expand the realm of public education by improving social science’s contribution to public knowledge.