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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A multi-dimensional approach to the study of online annotation Chiang, Chia-Ning


Digital annotations share the purpose and nature of traditional paper annotations when reading online. Annotation form represents the behavior associated with completing an annotation. Annotation function reflects the users’ cognitive states while annotating. The role indicates the intended audience (private, work group, and larger public) for the annotation, and provides an opportunity to investigate the functions of annotation in its social setting. Perceived values indicate the acceptance of annotation online. A broader understanding of what forms facilitate the creation of an individual’s online annotation while reading, as well as the co-relation of the form, function, and role of annotation when reading online is needed. Furthermore, evaluations of the perceived values of online reading and writing that constitute the acceptance of annotation online are also critical. This research employs a mixed-method approach for studying annotation online. Using an annotation prototype plugged into the Open Journal Systems, 15 participants conducted three reading tasks. The findings from the main study (user think-aloud protocol and interview transcripts) and supplementary information (post-session questionnaire and perceived value questionnaire) are analyzed according to the six research questions. Furthermore, a review of existing annotation tools and literature are used as an explanatory component for comparing and contrasting the findings of main study. The findings show that some online annotation forms take advantage of the change capability in visual styles of interface design and the network environment of the community, which have no counterpart in the print environment. Findings of online annotation functions are grounded in visual foraging of information and the theory of text signaling. In addition, annotation forms in combination with types of text annotated (e.g., headings) and text structures (e.g., topic sentence) result in the manifestation of different functions. Furthermore, role-attached social forms also function the same as “signals” for sharing or communication. It is also observed that annotation functions shift in different reading tasks. In general, people consider online annotation very useful, and improvements in performance, effectiveness, and utility of annotation while reading online, as well as the ease with which the skill is acquired, account for this acceptance.

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