“Reading” and digital text

Digital technologies are rewriting not only our reality but also the perception that Man has of these innovations. Precisely for this reason, the CfGC has been engaged for years in the analysis and experimentation of those technologies that can enhance the human dimension by alleviating difficult tasks and thus rendering it available for creativity.

A twenty-five-year search

Since 1992, the year that the CRAIAT (Center of Research and Applications of Computer Science for Text Analysis) was founded at the University of Florence, Luca Toschi has experimented with new and unprecedented design processes to enhance the reading and studying of texts through digital means.

The CRAIAT’s main research field concerned new technologies and, in particular, the automation of symbolic and physical processes. This led to the development of an approach to communication that could go beyond the transmissive, hierarchical model to embrace a generative model. In these years of study and research, in fact, Luca Toschi has developed a methodology applied to communication, starting from the study of literary texts and their possible enhancement thanks to new technologies

The first experimentation was the construction of a hypertext of "The Antiquarian’s Family" by Carlo Goldoni. Following this initial experiment, the CRAIAT developed other scientific products related to the works of Verga and Pirandello and, subsequently, Manzoni’s novel “The Betrothed.” Prof. Toschi then went on to study the relationships between the lives and works of Italian authors based on the "Atlante geografico della letteratura italiana".

Why bring CRAIAT experiments back to the surface?

With the aim of continuing the experiments launched in 1992 and with the desire to examine novel and unprecedented forms of relationships between new technologies, process automation and our daily reality, the CfGC has initiated a rereading of the main projects carried out by the CRAIAT through short scientific video-documentaries.
In this way, the CfGC hopes to call the scientific community’s attention, and that of others as well, to the importance of automation and digital texts today.

In fact, more and more often we are faced with persuasion strategies employed by principal media and power groups who use new forms of content dissemination according to a transmissive approach that subdivides contents and proposes them without critical consideration of the communicative methods.

The CRAIAT experiments began from a position of critique and philology but their application did not end, nor has it ended, in the literary field. Inherent in the CRAIAT model is a methodology that can be applied in the most diverse of contexts. Hypertexts present a new way of thinking, working, and studying, with new technologies serving to assist critical thinking and to strengthen the creative dimension which is typical of Man.

The first video produced by the CfGC from the CRAIAT experiments is related to the scientific product "L’ipertesto d’autore", published in 1996, which proposes a philological reading of the three editions of "The Antiquarian’s Family" by Goldoni.

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Since 1992

A twenty-five-year search...
The CRAIAT and the CfGC: the connecting thread.


L’ipertesto d’autore: automation at the service of text analysis

Luca Toschi

Luca Toschi is currently the director of the Center for Generative Communication and Professor of Sociology of Cultural and Communicative Processes in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the University of Florence.
He is the author of the book La Comunicazione generativa which is the basis of the methodology used by the researchers of the CfGC on a daily basis for their research projects.


“L’ipertesto d’autore”, one of the very first products of its kind, was the result of accurate philological research that, relying on the opportunities offered by the hypertext form, allowed creation of a cutting-edge publishing product.

The project explores the opportunities of using digital technology to enhance artistic and literary heritage in an attempt to go beyond a merely document-based view, typical of a traditional database.
In this sense, "translation" of the work into hypertext form makes it possible to rethink the author contribution of the scholar who composes the hypertext and, at the same time, of the user who consults it by activating different reading frames (hence the title "ipertesto d’autore").

In the electronic edition, which resulted from an important collaboration regarding the conception and structuring of the contents by Maura Gori, Marzia Pieri, Francesca Gramigni and Alessandra Anichini, it is possible to read the three editions of Goldoni’s comedy thanks to the hypertextual process that makes it possible to move from one text to another in order to compare the different editions, while remaining in a single medium.
The three editions--by Bettinelli, Paperini and Pasquali-- are highlighted in three different colors: green, red and yellow, respectively. On the screen, the digitized text (treated philologically with construction of the hypertextual plot), shows words in white to identify the part of the text common to all three editions. Instead, when words appear in the colors indicated above it means that the author made changes in one or more editions.

The hypertext interface anticipated today's e-books but it went beyond. It formed a complex fabric correlating the different versions of Goldoni's work.
This experimentation, as mentioned above, was only the first of a series of scientific products by the CRAIAT. Recovery by the CfGC of previous work continues with the intention of reflecting on the meaning that digital texts assume today in relation to new technologies within the field of automation.

According to the CfGC, in fact, it’s not possible to pursue automation for content management without rewriting the contents themselves. In this sense, the creation of hypertext links represents a transformation of the "analogical" work which experiences a profound redefinition of its original contents through the potential of the digital text.
Thus, the author is also the designer of the communication that carries forward and highlights the complex weave of relationships present in the original text.

L'ipertesto d'autore

Automation at the service of text analysis

Download the video transcription >>