Brad Tober /
Experimental Interface Lab

«Sign My Book

Sign My Book is a multimodal system for mediating collaborative semiotic authorship. The system consists of two closely integrated components: a mobile app and a series of print volumes. As parts of a multimodal system, these components only work when used together—they do not function on their own. The pages of a Sign My Book print volume are keys to content that is stored online and accessible only through the mobile app. By using the app to scan the specially encrypted QR codes present on each page, participants can view and edit others’ contributions, as well as submit their own content.

In its mediating role, Sign My Book establishes a framework for facilitating semiotic authorship, a creative activity that is structurally reflective of a process of constructing signs. In semiotics (the study of how meaning is made), a sign is a unit of meaning consisting of a signifier (the form / vehicle of the meaning) and the signified (the concept / idea behind the meaning). This structure is reflected in Sign My Book, where the print volumes alone model the role of a signifier and the participant-generated content accessed through the mobile app represents the signified. Together, these two components "sign" the book.

A typical user flow begins after a participant launches the Sign My Book app [1]. From here, the participant can either access information about the app or scan a page from a Sign My Book print volume. After tapping the "Scan a page" button, the page scanner [2] uses the device's camera to read the unique QR codes printed on Sign My Book print volume pages. These QR codes are encrypted for use only by the Sign My Book app (the QR code in this image has been censored to maintain the integrity of the multimodal system). After successfully reading a code, the existing content for the page is displayed [3]. If the page has never been edited, or if the page's edit delay has passed, the participant can tap the "Edit" button to add and / or change page content [4]. After tapping the "Done" button, the participant returns to a read-only view of the page [5]. The newly edited page cannot be edited again for a length of time equal to the edit delay in effect at the time of submission, which exists to promote collaboration across a greater number of pages.


The Sign My Book mobile app is available for free download on the App Store, although its usefulness is limited without access to one or more Sign My Book print volumes.


  • "School of Art and Design Faculty Exhibition." Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois (August 28–December 23, 2015).


  • Harris, Jenese. "Krannert Art Museum celebrates 90 years of faculty exhibitions." FOX Champaign News at Nine. Fox. WRSP, Champaign, Illinois. August 21, 2015.
  • Dharmasankar, Shivani. "Teaching Sans Textbook." buzz weekly. September 4, 2015.