Deeply Literate Document Interactions



We have only achieved a fraction of the potential of digital documents in a connected world. We believe that digital documents and the infrastructure around them should enable the intellectual labour and curiosity of the reader to dig deeper – to make inferences – to discover connections and make links. (Please refer to ‘Connections & Links’ if you have not already done so)


Deep literacy requires a combination of tools, information and skills. Academic authoring and reading is one of the most advanced forms of tools and skills available today, but is only scratching the surface of what is now theoretically possible.


The goal of developing tools and systems for deeper literacies is to support primarily scholars and researchers to write higher quality academic documents efficiently and to enhance access and deep reading of documents produced by others by others in order to simplify the extraction and manipulation of needed information.


In our view, a high-quality academic paper will present significant insights or findings in a manner in which the author’s conclusions are supported by well reasoned evidence and logical arguments.


Importantly too, in a well put together academic paper, authors must include all necessary citations to previous work. Therefore, for academic document discourse to progress it becomes vital to look at what purpose the discourse should serve, and from that design techniques and technology to support it.


Because richly interactive documents are far more useful than simple word processed documents, simply creating systems that project  facsimiles of the analogue onto the digital are inadequate. Rather, a rich computational environment must be developed with tools to support a variety of Deep Literacy requirements to increase understanding of both original and existing research, writing and editing using new types of visualisations and interactions.



The Deeply Literate Workflow


  • First of all, the documents need to be Discoverable in order to increase readers’ abilities to find relevant documents and information in documents that both supports and and contradicts arguments the author hopes to make. This is partly a meta-information, hosting and measuring issue.


  • Deeply Connectable. The system needs to support High Resolution Addressing (being able to link to sections within documents, not just to whole documents)  –  and instant access for truly useful and verifiable citations.


  • Richly Interactive to allow the user to view the documents and connected documents in flexible ways in order to make new potential links and un-seen inherent links visible and useful. This is to support the continued development of Deep Reading Support, which is defined as aiding understanding of an authors intentions while supporting the questioning of the reasoning and supportive material.


  • Deep Commenting. For literature review (annotations for the reader to refer to later) and for advisor comments (annotations which the student will see).


  • Deep Collaboration Collaboration among multiple authors where appropriate.


  • Furthermore, the main documents are supported by powerful implementations of supportive technologies and methods, such as distributed publishing, glossaries, specialised dictionaries, dialogue records and more.



The Deeply Literate Document


An ideal academic document, which is a good model for building ever deeper literacies around, allows for, and supports the following:


  • The presentation of an insight or finding
  • clearly supported through well reasoned evidence and logical arguments,
  • supported by references to previous work,
  • published and hosted in a way which others can discover through powerful support for contextual meta-information,
  • through richly interactive media supporting deep reading.




Authored by Frode Hegland and Livia Polanyi



(deep literacy for this site is being discussed on this blog: