The interaction process between humans and published writings started a long time ago, and people have been making notes or providing written comments about the material that they have been reading ever since. These comments were then circulated and shared among their colleagues and were believed to have played an important part in the dissemination of knowledge (Tribble, 1997). With advances in computing technology, paper-based print is giving way to digital media as more printed documents now appear in an electronic format. These electronic copies of a document are likely to be read, possibly marked, and shared by a number of people. Therefore, a rise in knowledge and information sharing via electronic (e-) writings (in the form of annotations) should be anticipated as active reading and document sharing becomes a convenient activity. Thus, the focus of this article is on elaborating the basic concepts of information sharing among networked reader communities through markings made on electronic (e-) documents.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Document Markings: Can include annotations, highlights, underlines, symbols, indications, drawings, signs, and so forth.
Networked Community Readers: Utilizing Wenger’s (1998) definition of communities of practice, are ad hoc groups that exist within (or sometimes across) organizations. These groups are formed to focus on a common set of information needs, or to resolve mutual problems.
Document Sharing Environments: Occur when members of a networked community collaborate on a specific task by reading electronic documents on a shared network server, which caters for simultaneous viewing, reading, and annotating of the document.
Digital Libraries (DLs): Store library materials in an electronic (digital) format. DLs have the potential to offer electronic resource creation, search, and use. They also offer flexible and adaptable electronic annotating medium in which document may be marked, and the changes stored locally for access by an individual or a community of users.
Electronic (E-) Document: Is presentation of text in digital format. It could be generated by a common word processor, publishing software, or may be a Web page available through the World Wide Web. An e-document may also assume the form of a genre in multimedia format, that is audio or video.
Active Reading: Indicates the rich collection of activities that a reader performs during interaction with a document. These activities include skimming, searching, browsing, editing, commenting, surfing, reviewing, and rereading. Thus, the reader acts also an author, and engages in writing on the text while reading.
Wiki: A Website that allows users to add content as comments while preserving the original content. That content in-turn can be read and edited by other users.
Blogs: A piece of information that is instantly published to a Website. Blog scripting allows anyone to automatically post information to a Website that supports blogging
Annotation: A form of writing that has been placed on paper or an electronic document by the user of that resource. It is the outcome of attentive reading of a text and is a visible trace of human attention. These annotations make a statement about the document, or some part of it at a certain point in time.
Knowledge: The most valuable form of content in a continuum, starting at data, encompassing information, and ending at knowledge. Tacit knowledge is information that has been acquired through experience and task execution, and is more of a personal nature. Explicit Knowledge can be codified formally using words, numbers, symbols, or rules, and tends to be available in a more shareable format.