February 2010 Archives

Post #5 Linear or Non-Linear Reading

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When it comes to reading on the web, I am definitely a non-linear reader. I think this also applies to when I read dense material like text books for certain classes. However, I believe that I am a linear reader when I am reading something for fun. When I want to enjoy what I am reading I make sure to take the time to read it all. Unfortunately, most of the reading I have to do isn't for fun and is for school or learning purposes. With more and more reading being done on the web, it is easy to see how we are changing the way we are reading. The internet relies on speed and convenience, so being able to understand the main messages quickly and move on is crucial.

In Neilson's Reading on the Web it is discussed how people usually don't read every single word on the web page, but instead they scan the page for key words. I agree with this idea because it is definitely what I do in my own experience of viewing web pages. The faster I find what I am looking for, the better. I like when web pages are organized so that the most important information is located near the top, or easy to find. It is easy to get discouraged quickly and move on to a new site if you don't find any helpful information on the website in about the first thirty seconds. Neilson says close to the same thing in Information Foraging, when he states that web sites should support short visits. "Be a snack, not a meal."

Post #4: Is the Book Here to Stay?

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In chapter five, Bolter discusses the digital technology of electronic books. With full texts available on our lap tops and hand held reading devices, it is easy to see how the book might be in danger of becoming obsolete. However, I believe that actual printed materials such as books, magazines, and newspapers will survive for many generations to come. Magazines and newspapers will face extinction long before books are ever threatened because the Internet is much more effective at instantly providing the most up to date news. Still, many people agree that there is just something more enjoyable about holding the actual object in their hand as opposed to reading off an electronic screen.

I do think that we will see a shift towards more people using digital technologies for reading as they become more widely availiable. Devices like the Nook could be very helpful for college students. Instead of having to buy and sell back books each semester at the bookstore, not to mention having to haul them to and from class, students could rent the materials they needed for the semester on to their Nook. I can see this becoming a reality for students in the not so distant future. Personally, I find it much easier to read and take notes from a book compared to reading articles off the Internet. There is just something about being able to physically handle the material that makes it more substantial.

There are a lot of people that agree with me about having a better reading experience with books instead of digital technology. This is why the book is here to stay. There are many physical qualities a book posseses which are not available through electronic readers. You can quickly toss a book to the side if you need a break from reading. You can actually feel your progress as the weight of the book shifts from unread pages to read pages. You can show off your book collection by displaying them in your home or office. These are just some of the characteristics that add to the aesthetic appeal of reading a book compared to reading electronic texts. All in all, their sales and printing numbers may decline, but the book will withstand the digital revolution.

Blog Post #3 Technological Determinism

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In this week's readings, especially in the Chandler reading, the idea of technological determinism was discussed. This concept revolves around the idea that new technologies determine what people do, think, or say. For example, because of Google, now people don't memorize as much information because it is so easy to search for what we need from Google. The fact that this technologly is so widely available to everyone, a technological determinist would argue that Google has actually caused a change in how we recall information.

Personally, I disagree with the technological deterministic viewpoint. I believe we create situations in which these new technoligies become a demand. For example, Google was created because of the high demand for being able to search all the information on the internet. The internet got so advanced and large that we needed a technology that allows us to easily find what we are looking for. Google came along and provided this service that we greatly needed.

Carr discusses this idea in his article "Is Google Making us Stupid?" I don't think that using Google to search for information instead of going through the memorization has made us less intelligent. I actually believe that being able to be connected to tons of information at our finger tips has made us smarter. We might not be able to recall as much information of the top of our heads as other generations, but we have access to much more information and instantly.

Post #2 What Does Hypertext Refashion?

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The main point that I think Bolter was trying to get across is that there have been a large variety of different writing formats and methods over the course of history. Each new technology finds a way to improve upon, or completely change the writing processes that preceded it. Written text refashioned spoken word and was considered an amazing achievement when it was first developed. The ability to physically preserve somebody's words and ideas onto some kind of surface completely changed the way information was passed along to one another. Hypertext is taking the refashioning process to a whole new level.

With hyptertext words, pictures, videos and sound have no boundries. On the web we are able to combine all these different forms of communication to create completely new and exciting forums of information. The most amazing part is that all this information is instantly available to anyone in the world, as long as they have a connection to the internet. Hypertext is doing away with the boundries that hinder some forms of communication because now it can all be transfered electronically in seconds.

Before hypertext, if someone wanted to let all there friends and family know what was going on in their life, they would have to call everyone or send out a bunch of letters. This could be very time consuming. Hypertext has refashioned the spreading of "personal" news. Social networking sites such as FaceBook allow for instant access to this kind of information. However, you can still find places within hypertext that still try to embrace the older communication styles. At PostSecret you can mail in a secret message on a post card, and it will be scanned and placed online for everybody to see.

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