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Computer-based documents are “changing the way we read,” says Polle Zellweger at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center-and she aims to accelerate that change. In her “fluid documents” project, Web pages, spreadsheets and plain old prose no longer appear as static text and images. Instead, elements of an electronic document smoothly rearrange themselves to make room for more information.

A fluid Web page, for example, previews a linked-to site with annotations that push aside text, take residence in the margin, or show up as an overlay. Zellweger points to the tight screen real estate on handheld devices as particularly in need of innovative ways to display complex layers of information.

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