Literature Together: Participatory Digital Editions, Social Annotation, and the Public Humanities
October 21, 3:00 pm
90 Snell Library

Join NULab for a talk by Dr. Amanda Visconti. Light refreshments will be served.

An early promise of digital humanities—radically increased public access to human culture past and present—has largely been kept, but making projects publicly accessible doesn’t in itself realize a public humanities. DH projects increasingly push beyond public access, designing for public participation by prioritizing inclusion, recognition of participants, and intuitive interface use. This talk will use the design and usertesting of the Infinite Ulysses participatory digital edition ( to explore what designing for participation can mean for a digital humanities project.

Infinite Ulysses is a digital edition inviting participatory social annotation of Joyce’s challenging but rewarding novel Ulysses. Drawing on mechanics tested and refined by non-academic online communities like Reddit and StackExchange, the interface experimented with social curation and moderation, attempting to personalize which annotations a given reader sees to their background and interests. From early use data for this proof of concept, we’ll think about ways to increase meaningful public participation in the digital humanities through participatory design, usertesting, and diverse research applications for social annotation data.

Dr. Amanda Visconti designs, codes, and analyzes user and site data toward helping the humanities grow more open: not just publicly accessible, but inviting and supporting public participation. She is the Digital Humanities Specialist and an assistant professor in the Libraries at Purdue University. An active maker and member of the digital humanities community, Visconti’s recently completed University of Maryland Literature Ph.D. consisted of the design, code, and user-testing of an experimental social reading interface ( instead of a proto-monograph. Visconti holds an Information M.S. with a specialization in digital humanities HCI from the University of Michigan, where she worked with public humanities enthusiasts to identify small design changes that could open scholarly websites to public use. A professional scholarly web developer for over eight years, Visconti has worked since 2009 in various roles at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH,, one of the world’s top digital humanities R&D centers. She tweets @Literature_Geek, blogs her design research at, shares her code on GitHub (, and maintains a project portfolio at