Frode Hegland & I learned last week that our project, “The Future of Text in XR,” was funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Here is the link to the Future of Text website with detailed information about our work, including videos and prototypes. 



We believe a fundamental change will occur when working in XR becomes the norm because when we see different, and we can interact differently, we become different. Our concern is that the paradigms of working in XR will be owned solely by commercial entities that have their own priorities. Therefore, our goal is to inspire and enable powerfully useful XR workspaces & workflows. We aim to inspire through building experiences that are truly useful, not just demos, and we aim to enable others through community dialog & support for open infrastructures. To fully augment knowledge work in XR, dialog is crucial but it also becomes necessary to build systems that are better than ‘what ships with the headset’. We have chosen to focus on augmenting academic reading and authorship first, with open systems that anyone can take advantage of to build ‘power tools’ for the mind for other user groups as well.

Advisory Board

Future of Text Lab Members


Our objectives are to 1) support dialog for how to work with text in XR, 2) build XR software and, 3) develop metadata infrastructures to support software interaction that integrates with real-world workflows.

Proposed Activities

1) Community building and support for dialog, including weekly lab meetings, annual Symposium, student competition, and continued publication of volumes of The Future of Text, with a focus on text in XR

2) Software development for WebXR with a focus on reading for the first year and authorship the second year

3) Visual-Meta Infrastructure support for more robust & open metadata, at very low cost to users & publishers.

Expected Outcomes

The potential of XR is too important to leave only to commercial developers. Keeping in mind the expression, “first we shape our tools, then our tools shape us,” the paradigms we develop for work in XR now will influence the imagination for generations to come. This project will result in better understanding of how powerful working in XR can be, far beyond the vision of any one software development company. We are the last generation not to be working in XR, at least during part of our workday. Let’s make sure we think this through, together.

Final Thoughts

The Electronic Literature Lab is excited about other possible outcomes of this project. First, it provides us the ability to experiment with a new kind of metadata that this project is specifically developing for XR environments––namely Visual-Meta. Second, it may open up new ways of expressing born-digital literature, art, and games where words and other forms of text can be experienced in a more immediate and visceral way in XR. Third, it will help us dig deep into practices of preserving and conserving XR-oriented works.