The Readery’s HCI Prototyping. 

Case Study (Phase II).

Role — Lead UXR, Head of HCI Systems

Year — 2019-2020

A modern solution for an actual reader tool. A new readery for the inveterate reader, making content more flexible, shareable and collaborative.

  • Goals — Developing the HCI blueprints visualising the user affordances available through The Readery tool. Visualise our previous UXR experiments’s results on screen readability. Providing examples of solutions for a more interactive, flexible, straightforward and accessible readery, focusing personal preferences at hand and shareability features in need. Follow the principles we concluded and show that they work.
  • Challenges — The digit interactive part was subject of much changes, especially the top bar components. We finally decided to make top areas control-specific, and make all user personalisations to unfold from there. We wanted our design to manifest sensitive to colour perception difficulties and hearing accessibility, so we empowered user preferences decision making as a motto.
  • Learnings — Formalising the HCI blueprints of a shareable readery tool in this collaborative ambiance, as the idea realised and applied our UXR experimental findings, was a very delightful process. By imagining a user-preferences-centered design we increased our cooperation capabilities in decision making at work, as our aesthetic whims will be able to come into reality as users. This motivated us for developing more user-practice-oriented research and HCI, be more prone to put ourselves in the user’s boots, and took much stress away.

Overview of the Project.

The Readery is a multi-device app on the Blockchain where users can upload all-source documents, containing texts and multimedia, and transform them to become improvingly readable, editable, collaborative and shareable.

Presenting The Readery Project as a case study, this page shows Phase II, defining a HCI prototype proposal based on the usage affordances extracted from our results. The previous UXR Phase I is available below, along with Phase III, incorporating the Blockchain system.

Overview on The Readery’s HCI Concept.

The Readery is a distributed, smart system on the Blockchain, that applies AI for an enhanced and collaborative reading experience. By text analysis, keyword tagging, and a new reading mode moved by user attention research, and cognitive experiments on multi-device screen reading, The Readery provides users with a powerful tool for better understanding, interacting and working with deep, long and complex contents.

What the The Readery Does.

The system allows users to showcase and manage readings, publishing and protecting content via a Smart Copy System on the Blockchain, reading and editing particular texts in a flexible, interactive, distributed and personal preferences-centered manner, and most importantly, sharing works for collaborating with colleagues in a multi-user and multi-device fashion.

When all created contents are protected, when authors and project collaborators are dignified, when research institutions and publishers are assisted to improve distribution and scientific interaction, readers and social advancement get benefited.

Users can upload any document purchased or open to The Readery system. Then the software, applying AI strategies, interprets it, assessing legal metadata for protecting authors’s copyrights on the Blockchain, clustering sections and multimedia, and tagging keywords through text and qualitative analysis. Reformatting the document, it now prepares all-source contents for the reader to re-edit it as will, interacting with contents through preferences instead of immutable editions, and offering a multi-device, flexible format to work synchronised everywhere and with anyone required to collaborate in a protected fashion.

More Interactive & Flexible.

Selection is as easy as dragging the finger along text lines, open to colours and preferences. Emojis come to populate texts, introducing straightforwardly qualitative marking, useful to remember oneself and other where to look to and what for, pinning significant contents. Sections, chapters and bibliographies come organised and clustered, where meta-info can be accessed and analysed immediately, and comfortably read.

Gestures Empowering Users’s Attention.

As sections are clustered in flexible entities, each paragraph is open now to work with independently. This allows meaningful swiping. Go swiping to the left to make as many comment on precise topics, share with collaborators and start a conversation via strings and extra attachments. Go swiping to the right to highlight its background, a useful attention glow that comes to support a fast reading mood.

More Accessible & Focusing User Preferences.

Accessibility is a must in contemporary human-software interaction. Virtual voice out loud reading is implemented for selections, sections and entire documents from the very panel. Scaling up and dawn, especially for texts, comes to stay flexible and smooth. Background-Type colour contrast is now an immediate preference, helping night-day light shifting, and making it able to offer a remarkable integration for different colour perception sensitivities.

More Shareable, Connected & Collaborative.

Science advances as collaboration becomes real. Within the readery system, researchers can access specific sections and paragraphs, point out issues, and start intuitively a string conversation within the text or a series of comments that may constitute significant notes for their own writing projects, all being downloadable and shareable.

A rather useful tool for international teams: open languages documents. Smart translations and contextual dictionaries are immediately offered in options which, connected with original sources, provide of enhanced implementation.

Finally, references: openable, able to be searched and copied on the right side, independently, or clustered as bibliography on the sections tool, this re-formatting of the reference for reading allow readers to focus attention on the content. For other uses where references need to be unveiled, general preference allow them to show up on the text following any quoting system preferred.

For this, academic texts, even open ones, need be first protected. The Readery uses a Smart Copy System on the Blockchain that allows texts to be purchased, and re-distributed with limitations as authors and publishers require. This way, academic readings, and scientific works can be improvingly shareable, collaborative and social.

Background Context of the Project.

In August 2019, the Kalavik Commons, a collaborative collective of European ergonomists, UX and HCI Researchers sharing their thoughts on the field and its future, arranged the second biannual meeting of the year in Munich with the title ‘Orienting HCI & UX Research for Blockchain Systems’. What a wonderful occasion for my Danish project partner Vibeke Lundborg’s thoughts on brain-tracking ergonomics and mine to be exposed together.

We introduced 3 applied concepts on cognitive ergonomics for intelligent platforms working with AI-assisted diagnostics built on the blockchain*. Very productively, colleagues at the audience started to formulate some questions about how to implement cognitive research to be applied in the prototyping of a readery app**, with said concepts being tested in a series of experiments about user attention and screen reading performance, mainly studying the usage affordances introduced by the app, and further on the users’s practice of the readery itself. After the talk, colleagues at The Commons, Karen Johannesson (Århus) and Pam Kluge (Copenhagen), proposed to build a prototyping framework for Kalavik, starting the project.

What was to be an isolated experiment ended up being three different projects in three different years. My colleague at the Commons Vibeke Lundborg and I, in collaboration with Barbara Leid and Pam Kluge, started a cognitive experiment on reading attention and screen usability in 2018. This resulted in prototyping the HCI readery’s usage affordances applying our experimental conclusions by mid 2019. Dynamics for a blockchain system were incorporated to the prototype soon, scheduled for 2023.

* Alex Card & Vibeke Lundborg (2019) — ‘Epidiagnostic Nosographers on the Blochchain. On the Human-Software ergonomics of a diagnostic distributed platform’, in Orienting HCI & UX Research for Blochchain Systems, CBC 2019b, N.6. Munich, Germany.

** The concept of a readery was first introduced as an example of flexible design in neuroergonomics in 2018. Cf.: Alex Card & Barbara Leid (2018) ‘The Neuro-Ergonomics of Brain Software. On a near-future imagery of brain-tracking software for non-medical usage’, in Reaching Mind-Reading Software?, CBC 2018a, N.3. Copenhagen, Denmark.