Surfing a dissertation

In 2007 Caroline Nevejan successfully defended the the dissertation Presence and the Design of Trust at the University of Amsterdam. A dissertation is a book of about 150 pages, which is usually only accessible through the library. Nevejan created a new way of presenting a dissertation by loading the text into a database and adding metadata for making it possible to 'surf' the dissertation.

With Mediamatic Lab an experiment was executed. With Willem Velthoven and another friend, every paragraph of the dissertation was loaded separately into the Anymeta database. Anymeta was the predecessor of Ginger, built with the same principle that "everything is a thing". 

As result the over 650 paragraphs had become distinct items in the database to which the author can add keywords. By adding keywords relations are created between different paragraphs at different locations in the dissertation. 

Sometimes the keywords were already there, sometimes the author made new ones. When too many keywords were created, the author would merge keywords creating larger containers of meaning. Finally the set of keywords became fixed and one can argue that an ontology emerged.

It is now possible to surf through the dissertation. Paragraphs from chapter 6 seamlessly seem to match paragraphs from chapter 2 and 4.

Surfing this dissertation while being author of the text and being author of the metadata offers a very special experience to the author. As if one unfolds ones own thinking to oneself.

Please experience this at:


The dissertation included 2 case studies: the Galactic Hacker Party (1989) and the Seropositive Ball (1990)


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