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Bolioli, A., Tasso, R. (2016). Collaborative Annotation and Exploration of Literary Works in Learning Contexts. In Digital Humanities 2016: Conference Abstracts. Jagiellonian University & Pedagogical University, Kraków, pp. 746-747.
Collaborative Annotation and Exploration of Literary Works in Learning Contexts

Collaborative Annotation and Exploration of Literary Works in Learning Contexts

In this poster we present the web application “CBook” (or “Crunched Book”), i.e. a DH tool for collaborative reading, annotation and exploration of literary works. The web app can be found here: https://cbook.it/ . It was used in learning contexts during the research projects Librare (in high schools) and Pinocchio: la comunità dei balocchi (in middle schools). Other teachers are using it in complete autonomy in their classrooms.

Students and teachers can annotate portions of text, explore novel’s settings through interactive maps, add and share images and other contents related to a literary work, search for terms into the text (e.g. in the quoted speeches of a particular character), explore connections between characters in their social networks.

The CBook is used by italian students and their teachers, as an innovative digital tool for reading and studying literature, in primary and secondary schools. The list of schools involved in Librare project, for example, can be found here:

Some Italian and English classics are already present in the web app, the full work or a portion: I promessi sposi (complete), Le avventure di Pinocchio (complete), Decameron (3 novels), Odissea (book VI, italian translation), Romeo and Juliet (complete), The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (chapters 1­5). Other works requested by teachers (e.g. Dante’s Purgatorio), will be added to the web app in the next months.

We can say that CBook is, in some sense, a collaborative anthology (or an Anthology 2.0), i.e. a collection of literary works selected by the users that are reading, annotating and exploring the works, using some DH tools and methodologies (collaborative annotation, interactive maps, SNA of characters, text mining, etc).

The web app was designed and tested in collaboration with high school teachers, students and DH scholars. It is used on tablets, PCs, interactive whiteboards, and smartphones (with less functionalities).

An important feature of CBook is interoperability between models and tools for TEI XML annotation and models and tools for semantic annotation. A significant difference between the CBook and other annotation tools is its emphasis on user-centered design (for students and teachers).

The annotation system of CBook is based on Annotator ( http://annotatorjs.org/) , “an open­source JavaScript library to easily add annotation functionality to any webpage”, following annotation standards for digital documents developed by the W3C Web Annotation Working Group. The User Interface is written in HTML5, CSS and Javascript. The texts were annotated in XML, using a simplified version of TEI. On the server side, we use a graph Database and Java.

The actions of cbook’s users (sign in, sign out, comment) can be monitored in a public dashboard accessible here: http:/sensori.librare.org/librare/. In this dashboard you can see the events concerning both cbooks (digital) and paper books that users were working on in this project.

The first version of “The digital lab of crunched books" was the Second Runner Up of Digital Humanities Awards 2014 in the Best DH Tool or Suite of Tools section (3 march 2015): http://dhawards.org/dhawards2014/results/

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