Blog Post

A Couple of New Project Ideas


I've been thinking about a couple of new projects that I want to begin working on this semester and I thought posting my thoughts here would help me organize my thoughts, but also allow for everyone here to help me take these ideas and turn them into something real (although I hate using the word "real" I mean simply that these projects are ideas, but I would really love help to make these ideas work). 


The first idea I have is an Apple Store like app that is a manuscript viewer for the iPad.  What I envision is an app that allows anyone to select and view a number of manuscripts (since I sometimes dabble in Middle English I was thinking about medieval manuscripts, but it can be manuscripts of anything).  That is part one of the app, a simple viewer.  The second part of the app would be that when you turn the iPad into landscape mode then the manuscript and a text page would share a split screen (the manuscript on the right and the text page on the right) and on the text page you would be able to input your transcription of the manuscript.  Of course this would mean that there would be paleographical symbols worked into the text page, so you would be able to select those in order to help you organize your transcription. 


This was what I started with, but then I was thinking that maybe once you would begin a transcription that transcription page would be generated on a server and posted on a wiki type page (and if a transcription had already been started then you would choose that).  Whatever transcription you made would then sync back to that page.  Essentially what I would like to see is a crowd source type of interface where a collaborative group of people would create transcriptions of manuscripts to be used for research and scholarship. 



My second idea is pedagogically focused.  I love my iPad and I would love to teach with it more, but I have a huge problem with the limited capabilities of the video output.  Although there is a VGA dock connecter, what is displayed externally is limited to what applications allow video output and often those apps that do allow video output are limited by portrait mode only or landscape mode only outputs.  I did find an application through Cydia (yes, I hacked my iPad.  Please don't call the Apple police) and that application does allow for direct video output, but it still requires the dock connecter.


What I want is a cable free experience.  I want to be able to walk around my class and flip through presentations or flip through YouTube videos.  I want my students to be able to use my iPad to compose texts that are displayed on the projector without leaving their seats and sitting at the cumbersome video desk (the desks that hold our video and computer equipment here at Texas A&M are huge monstrosities).  What I want is something like what is capable on a Windows 7 machine.  Windows 7 (and even Vista) comes with the capability to connect wirelessly to a projector, so you can place the laptop anywhere.  I want to have this capability on the iPad, so that I can share with the class without being stuck behind a huge desk.  I've looked for a solution to this, but I've been unable to find one, so now I'm working on how to make this work and that includes maybe designing an app that will allow for this to happen.



So those are the two projects I have begun working on and I would love some feedback to help me get these going.  I would also love to talk to anyone that has experience designing apps for the app store.  




My only comment would be that there is no reason to limit the manuscript app you propose to the iPad, other than the development time for porting to other platforms. Such a program would work just as well--if not better--on regular computers. Also, allowing people who have not yet joined the iCult to use it would considerably expand your userbase.


I agree.  I was starting with the iPad as an interesting way to use it for research, but in creating this I definitely want to open it to other platforms.  Part of what I was thinking was opening the wiki, so that you could do the same thing on the computer as you could on the specialized app.