The Future of Citations

Things have been a bit quiet around MediaCommons for a while, as we’ve been working behind the scenes on a major platform transformation that should be coming soonish. But there has been a little activity there of late, and in case you were looking the other way, I wanted to bring it to your attention.

The most significant thing is a very interesting and important post by Kari Kraus on citation systems for new media. Kari gives a bit of background on the problems that new media forms present for existing citation systems such as MLA and APA, and then follows with some of the research done by her Information Access in the Arts course this spring into various initiatives and proposals for renovating citation strategies into the future. Kari and her students are exploring a crucial set of issues for the future of academic discourse, as the ability to develop a systematic and yet flexible set of guidelines not just for referring to multimodal web-based sources but for ensuring the stability of those references will have an enormous impact on the ease with which scholars move into new modes of networked communication.

I raise a related issue in the comment I’ve left on her post, as well, one that I’ve discussed in a couple of classes recently: the unit of reference within the codex has long been the numbered page, through which I can get from your footnote to a relatively narrow chunk of text within which your reference lies in relatively direct and speedy fashion. But as we start reading texts in multiple new environments, moving from web to computer-based readers like Sophie to reading appliances like the Kindle, what new strategies will we need to develop in order to refer not only to the particular text we’re citing, but the particular spot in the particular text?

2 thoughts on “The Future of Citations

  1. Thanks so much for blogging about the citation post, Kathleen. I just replied to your comment over on MediaCommons and thought I’d cross-post it here:

    I’ve heard the problem you mention described as one of “granular addressability”: the ability to link to (and by extension cite) all kinds of content at different scales (e.g., document level, paragraph level, word level, frame-level, bit level, etc.), and to extend this capability to multimedia formats that don’t natively support embedded links. A few resources:

    Purple Numbers:
    http://www.eekim.com/software/purple/purple.html
    XML linking language (which also includes the novel concept of the “extended link”): http://www.w3.org/TR/xlink/#extended-link
    The Open HyperDocument System:
    http://www.eekim.com/ohs/attic/proposal-20000713.html

  2. Thanks for the links, Kari — granular addressability sounds like a key aspect of the thing I’m pondering, and its implications for academic citation practices seem huge, particularly as texts begin to move across reading environments…

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