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What is the main issue, problem, or subject and why is it important?

The proposal should start with a discussion of the main issues, problems, or subjects that the proposer expects to address and why these are important.

A new age of interactive computing has begun with the introduction of ‘Extended Reality’ (XR/VR/AR/Headsets) tools and devices. Just as academic research has been transformed by the digital technology developed over the past few decades, knowledge workers both in the academy and beyond will soon read, write, collaborate and disseminate their work in 3D immersive contexts. How these these environments should be structured to best support scholarly activity rather than the needs of the general community is an open question and one that must be addressed before systems which do not adequately address the concerns of academics have become all but immutable industry standards. Because of the speed with which development is taking place in the hotly contested commercial XR space, the importance of fostering a timely inclusive dialog among potential users to widen the potential of what working in XR for academics should be can not be overstated since once a technology is widely disseminated, the work practices of users become defined by the affordances and limitations of the tools the technology makes available. For academics, therefore, it is important that future devices truly address the needs of the academic community.

The promise of working in in extended reality environment is to truly extend our ability to get to grips with our knowledge and our own thoughts. This can be knowledge unleashed. If we do it right–if we do it from the perspective and ownership of the user community, not simply as a commercial endeavour–and if we provide the metadata infrastructure to enable rich views and interactions.

In order to expand our understanding of the demands and opportunities for scholars who will soon be working in the Extended Environments enabled by advancements in head mounted displays, we propose:

(1) To foster an inclusive dialog with an expanding community of researchers in both academia and industry to survey existing systems to evaluate how XR processing and dissemination interfaces should be designed to meet the needs of scholars. We will facilitate this dialog through:
a. Remote weekly meetings of interested participants
b. Annual Future of Text Symposia, which, like the recent 2023 Symposium will focus on knowledge work in XR
c. Publication of Symposia proceedings and commentaries by participants well as others in the community as Volume 4 of The Future of Text

(2) To design, implement and test an initial software environment incorporating recommendations from members of the community for scholars to ‘experiment to experience’ working in XR. This Academic XR Workbench will support reading both conventional academic literature as well as academic literature augmented with rich metadata. The Academic XR Workbench will be implemented to run on the advanced state of the art Apple Vision Pro. It will be built as an extension of the macOS Author and Reader software applications developed by Frode Hegland and his team to support the text processing needs of academics.

(3) To support rich interactions in XR, open and robust metadata will be required, which is not currently available for academic communications.