April 2010 Archives

Ebooks are the Future :-)

| No Comments

An "e-book," unlike a printed codex, can contain many layers arranged in the shape of a pyramid. Readers can download the text and skim through the topmost layer, which will be written like an ordinary monograph. If it satisifes them, they can print it out, bind it, and study it at their convenience in the form of a custom-made paperback. If they come upon something that especially interests them, they can click down a layer to a supplementary essay or appendix. They can continue deeper through the book, through bodies of documents, bibliography, historiography, iconography, background music, everything I can provide to give the fullest possible understanding of my subject.

--Darnton 61-62

I'm not sure about the Kindle, but I know for sure that the iPad meets most, if not all of Darnton's expectations. In my Magazine Writing class last week, the E-I-C of Pittsburgh Magazine showed us a video of what Wired Magazine hopes to do with an e-book version of their magazine. And I have to say, I felt myself trembling with joy of the possibilities.

 

 

El 336

A case for libraries

| No Comments

Let me just begin this blog by saying LONG LIVE LIBRARIES. It's been a long time since I sat down in Reeves Library to do some homework, and like always, I find myself wondering why I don't stop by here more often. There's just something about the atmosphere of a library that forces me to write and work more diligently than I could ever hope to at home or even in the commuter lounge. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that in the past few hours that I've spent in the library, I've accomplished more work than I have in the past week or so. It's a shame, and I really hope there will always be a place for libraries in our society.

The bargain looked dubious to some of us in charge of the libraries. We had provided Google with the books free of charge in the first place, and now we were being asked to buy back access to them, along with those of our sister libraries, in digitized form.

--Darnton 45

We've talked about Google Books before in class and in other assigned texts by Darnton. In later chapters, he mentions that Google Books never set out to be a monopoly, and I still agree with that. I do think it's unfair that they charge institutions to access full texts, but I can understand that certain copyright laws might prohibit them from displaying all of the data online for the world to see. There are plenty of hackers out there who can get around Google's firewalls, I'm sure. I just wish we could at least have some digital-world peace, at least for the case of books and other documents.

In the case of books, the digital copies in Google's database will belong to Google, and Google can charge any price it likes for access to them. It will own a vast stretch of the road.

--Darnton 47

Society's big mistake is not giving Google a capable competator. In my research for my term paper, I found that Microsoft released a similar program to digitize books a few years ago, but prematurely (if you ask me) abandoned the program. The millions of books already digitized are still available for anyone to read, but as of right now there's a huge battle with Google for rights in libraries. I'm optomistic that the iPad and other eReaders will level out the playing field sigificantly. Unfortunately, Google Books still has an advantage because they scanned the actual documents rather than just uploaded microsoft word-type documents online. Looks like we're on our way to a book war, if you ask me.

Google's mission statement: "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." Should we think of Google as a publisher?

--Darnton 54

I don't know about my peers, but I don't consider Google to be a publisher, because they aren't printing anything. Sure they're making documents more accessible to a larger audience, but they're just using information that was published by other companies. I think we need to think of a different word to describe just what Google Books is.

EL 336

Let's see how far we've come!

| 1 Comment

Of the three chapters assigned for this week, I found the first one to be the most valuable for my research paper. I found myself spending a lot of this reading time nodding in agreement with what Darnton was saying rather than nodding off in exhaustion. Now, I'm not saying that the other readings have bored me to sleep--all I'm saying is that I'm more rested now and I'm more invested in the text. Anyway, here's my analysis...

When strung out in this manner, the pace of change seems breathtaking: from writing to codex, 4,300 years; from the codex to movable type, 1,150 years; from moveable type to the Internet, 524 years; from the Internet to search engines, 17 years; from search engines to Google's algorithmic relevance ranking, 7 years; and who knows what is just around the corner or coming out the pipeline?

--Darnton 23

He's absolutely right. I think it's just amazing to look back and see just how far we've come in the past decade, let alone in the past few thousand years. Like Dr. Jerz always says, everything's really coming together for us, since we're nearing the end of the semester. I think we all have a greater appreciation for the digital aspect of writing now that we've experienced all of the other fields as well.

Darnton also mentions that blogs now create news rather than just report on it. This is a pretty important thing to keep in mind, because it fits in with the argument that blogs allow "anyone to become a journalist."

As a spoof, a satirical newspaper, The Onion, put it out that an architect had created a new kind of building in Washington, D.C., one with a convertible dome. On sunny days, you push a button, the dome rolls back, and it ooks like a football stadium. On rainy days it looks like Congress. The story traveled from Web site to Web site until it arrived in China, where it was printed in the Beijing Evening News.

--Darnton 24

I found myself laughing quietly as I read this part of chapter 4. Darnton's right when he argues that the internet is both a place to spread information and a place to spread lies and spoofs. These days, I feel like nothing I see is true. I love when I get those emails with the "fantastic" nature images, because I can't help but wonder how much photoshopping was done to the image. Furthermore, anytime I recieve one of those chain-emails with a seemingly unrealistic story, I check it out on snopes.com, because you never can be too careful in the age of technology, can you?

Having learned to write news, I now distrust newspapers as a source of information, and I am often surprised by historians who take them as primary sources for knowing what really happened. I think newspapers should be read for information about how contemporaries construed events, rather than for reliable knowledge of events themselves.

--Darnton 27

Darnton's comment here makes me think back to last semester in News Writing when Dr. Jerz assigned the class to watch the evening news. Before this assignment, I'd already had a great dislike and distrust of broadcast journalism, but this viewing only heightened my opinion, because I found their "news" to be dismal and more about advertising than anything else. I can see how Darnton might argue that newspapers are not reliable as one would hope, but I still have to politely disagree with him. A trained journalist should know to write a news article with an objective voice. Obviously he or she cannot hope to get every fact and detail exactly perfect as it happened, but Darnton should really give print journalists a little more credit, because they're stuck with the job of recreating an image with solely words and a few choice pictures. They don't have the option to broadcast video--until recently. I see great things happening in the future for journalists. We'll be able to include high-def footage of events as they unfold along with our stories. Some people already do this on their blogs with their media-phones. Darnton's aboslutely right--our new technology is revolutionizing the information landscape.

To students in the 1950s, libraries looked like citadels of learning. Knowledge came packaged between hard covers, and a great library seemed to contain all of it. To climb the steps of the New York Public Library, past the stone lions guarding its entrance and into the monumental reading room on the third floor, was to enter a world that included everything known.

--Darnton 32

That was then, and this is now. Nowadays, students look to online resources as citadels of learning. We prefer the internet, because it's more conveinent and it provides faster feedback. I use EbscoHost and other internet databases more often than I actually visit a library. I'll even admit that if I can get what I need out of a limited preview on Google Books, I'll do that over checking the whole book out in the library. Darnton furthers this thought by describing how modern college campus libraries are changing their atmosphere to adapt to their students needs, and I've got to say, our library's pretty close. We've got plenty of comfy couches and chairs to relax in. I spent many a day my freshman year reading assigned text for various classes in one of the armchairs next to the big windows in Reeves.

So what can we take away from this chapter of Darnton? The information age is growing and changing the way we access and search for data. Darnton's right to wonder about the future of libraries, as he does in chapter 3.

EL 336

 

Microfilming again?

| No Comments

In the 1920s and 1930s microfilm had become popular as a storage medium for records, especially in banks, and all kinds of people were busily inventing microfilm equipment. Microfilming saved storage space and banks founds that microfilming cancelled checks was a useful measure against fraud.

--Emanuel Goldberg

 

The last time we talked about microfilming was in reference to libraries microfilming old newspapers as a means to keep more documentation once they ran out of room. Although I disagreed with the practice of destroying newspapers and books in order to make room for new ones, I was comforted by the idea that microfilming would keep them alive in at least one way. I'm still a fan of reading things on physical paper, but Goldberg introduced a pretty interesting idea when he mentioned that microfilming checks faught fraud. If you ask me, microfilming seems like a much safer process than making everything completely digital. From what I read,it seems like the memeux is very similar to a computer, in that it uses coding and similar coding at that to store things and also relate them to each other. Who woulda thought that Bush was actually on to something way back when?

It's really hard for my generation to remember what it was like before the internet made everything so readily available. Although I have to say, even though I prefer physical paper to digital media, if I had to choose between microfilm and digital, I'd go with digital. But I think that's mostly because of the era in which I grew up.

 

EL 336

EL336 Portfolio 2

| No Comments
So it's that time of the semester again, Portfolio time. We've come a really long way since the first portfolio, because we've visited so many other sections of communication. Below is a showcase of my work between the first portfiolio and now. Enjoy :-)

Coverage:
  • My Handwriting has a Personality all its own was my entry in response to Naiomi Baron's article in Writing Material concerning handwriting. Because I enjoyed this assigned text so much, I decided to partake in a handwriting personality profile test online and post my responses for my peers to view. The results were surprisingly accurate.
  • Monk's God-given Gift was an entry about Trithemius and his observations that writing was a gift from god for the monks in monestaries. I found connections back to some of my liberal arts courses that have nothing to do with english.
  • The Technological Catch-22 showed my agreement to our assigned text by Dennis Baron. I explained that modern technology is turning into a catch-22, because we need to learn to use the new technology (especially with computers), but at the same time, it's making some students lose out on some of their intelligence. My example, aside from spellcheck was the idea that kids forget basic math equations because they're so used to using a calculator.
  • The Printing Press' Effect on Money is an entry where I further analyze Eisenstein's points concerning the printing press and paper/coin money. It revolutionized counterfeit money, but also made it easier to carry around. I even touched briefly to hyperinflation in this entry.
  • Calvino's non-introduction Well, my copy of Calvino's book did not have the introduction that others did, so I blogged about the opening pages instead, as many of my peers did as well. I talk about my high expectations for books but also comment that my standards have dropped compared to what they used to be.
  • Throw the Book out the Window, I dare you is my blog entry on the first fifty pages of Calvino's book. I expressed some concern in this blog, because it kind of annoys me that Calvino thinks he knows how I'm thinking. I also found myself reflecting back to what we learned about errata earlier in the semester.
  • Lost in Translation is more comments on Calvino's book. In this particular entry, I question the necessity of a dictionary and argue its importance, using hieroglyphics as my prime example.
  • Preservation Please is my blog entry on Darnton chapter 8. This particular chapter really hits home for me, as I mention in the blog entry, because libraries are slowly digitizing a lot of their information, especially with newspapers. I mention my experience with keeping newspaper clips from my articles and I also touch on Fahrenheit 451 briefly.
  • Bibliographies Today was my entry on Darnton chapter 9. This was a weird blog entry for me, but I talked about the fact that I never realized how many different versions of Shakespeare's works are really out there.
  • Commonplace Books = Blogging? was my take on what Darnton explains to his readers as commonplace books. According to Darnton, we owe a lot to old authors who comprised books full of other authors quotes to further analyze them. In this entry, I pose the argument that our academic blogs are basically a modernized version of commonplace books.
  • iBooks vs text books was my response to chapter 1 of Aarseth's Cybertext. I discuss the difference between print and digital text. I provide a youtube clip that shows a demo of the iPad's new iBooks app, and also reflect back to my days in EL 236, Writing for the Internet.
  • 15-pager proposal is pretty self-explanatory.
  • Electronic Literature Makes Me Smile is a reflection of further analysis with the electronic literature collection. I love this stuff, and explained each of my experiences in depth. The RedRidingHood was my favorite this time around, but I also linked back to my blog from over a year ago on the same subject.
  • Hypertext Future is a response to Aarseth's stuff on hypertext, something I'm really interested in. In this entry, I, like Aarseth, try to prove that hypertext CAN be linear, despite what others seem to think.
  • The future of literature will rely on electronic literature This was one of the first times I really connected with what Aarseth is trying to say. He talks about interactive fiction in this chapter, and I link back to a previous blog that shows Dr. Jerz and his son working their way through an IF game.
  • Deadline exp. I ran into some issues while playing Deadline. I mentioned that I tried playing the game before I read Aarseth's chapter on it, so I had to go back and replay the game to really appreciate it. I also touched on the fact that patience and the ability to notice small details is really important in IF games and I think that's why I'm not always very successful in them.
  • Google Books will save the world is my response to Darnton Chapter 1, where he explains that Google Books is a corporate program that allows access to books that are not available to the general public, but at a cnost. I mention that this directly correlates with my research paper and comment that the future of our society will learn to rely on programs like Google Books.
  • Hypertext's like a play is pretty self-explanatory. I expanded on Aarseth's idea that hypertext resembles plays in that each experience is different from the last.

Depth:
Timeliness:
Calvino's non-introduction and Bibliographies Today were my two most timely blog entries. Both were posted over 24 hours before the due date.

Interaction:

Discussion:

Xenoblogging:
  • The Link Gracious~ Monk's God-given Gift: I linked to Megan's entry in my entry, because I agreed with her observations.
  • The Link Gracious~ Electronic Literature Makes Me Smile: This was a super link gracious :-)  I linked to Maddie's blog on this one, and also linked back to Aja's entry from our EL 236 class.

Wildcard:
  • iBooks vs text book shows my ability to synthesize information that I've learned outside of class as well as in past classes. I also provide a youtube video :-)

Hypertext's like a play

| No Comments
A user of a hypertext novel, for instance, who annotates and relinks his or her copy of the hypertext structure, is not on the same level of discourse as the novel's creator.

Aarseth, 167

This passage completely describes why I love hypertext and interactive fiction so much. This new form of literature allows you to recreate an otherwise unoriginal story or essay. Like Aarseth says later on the same page, hypertext resembles plays and musicals in that each production will be slightly different, depending on the audience, director and actors. For hypertext and interactive fiction, however, it's different for each experience, because every time you either play the game or work through a hypertext fiction story, you probably won't take the same path. There will be times when you don't need to access some links, so your experience will be different. 
I keep going back to this in my research paper as well. One of the greatest thing about this new form of literature is the fact that hypertext offers so many different paths for its users and readers. I cannot say it enough times that this really is the future for literature. And, I can't wait!!

Google Books will save the world

| No Comments
Libraries exist to promote a public good: "the encouragement of learning," learning "Free to All." Businesses exist in order to make money for their shareholders--and a good thing, too, for the public depends on a profitable economy. Yet if we permit the commercialization of the content of our libraries, there is no getting around a fundamental contradiction. To digitize collections and sell the product in ways that fail to guarantee wide access would be to repeat the mistake that was made when publishers exploited the market for scholarly journals, but on a much greater scale, for it would turn the Internet into an instrument for privatizing knowledge that belongs in the public sphere.

Darnton 11

The subject matter in this chapter actually deals directly with my research paper. However, it turns out I have an opposing view from Darnton. I think it's a wonderful thing that Google Books is trying to digitize our libraries. Even if you can't print out the documents that Google Books provides, it at least gives readers the chance to look at information they would otherwise not have any access to. If it weren't for Google, few people would ever see a copy of Middlemarch, which now seems unfair thanks to Google.
In my research for my rough draft of my final paper, I found that even in digitizing a multitude of books, Google prohibits a lot of the preview. In fact, very few books have full preview; most are limited to snippet view or limited preview. As I argue in my paper, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, because Google's kind of keeping the physical book industry and the library industry afloat. By limiting what readers can view, it forces them to make a decision concerning the preview they just witnessed. It saves researchers a ton of time as well. If the book's preview isn't what you're looking for, move on. If it is, and you need more information, just go to your local library or bookstore and pick up a copy of the book. I don't see what all the fuss is about. Even if Google is making a profit with what they're doing, they're also benefiting the general public, because without their digital copies of a lot of books, there would be a lot less out there for us to use. Gasp! Think about it...we might actually need to go to a library to do research instead of just sitting  in front of a laptop all day.

EL 336

Deadline exp.

| No Comments
And et, since solving an adventure game is usually very difficult, it requires extreme sensitivity to details. The contract between user and text in "interactive ficiton" is not merely a "willing suspension of disbeliefe" but a willing suspension of one's normal capacity for language, physical aptness, and social interaction as well."

Aarseth on Deadline pg. 117

I never pay enough attention to detail when I play these IF games. Usually, that's why I end up dead--or frustrated. For example, I tried playing Deadline before I read this chapter and then revisited the game briefly afterwards. During my first play through, it never even occurred to me to try fingerprinting things, even though that's what detectives usually do. I spent most of my time just wandering around the house and its surroundings. 
One of the thing I enjoyed about this particular IF game was the sense of humor the author seemed to have. Instead of just saying "the toilet has nothing of interest" or something to that effect, he writes "You have stooped to a new low, snooping around toilet bowls. Wait! Something catches your eye--was is the Tidy-bowl man? Is he the murderer? Naw..."
Stuff like that just makes me smile while I'm reading these games, even if I do grow VERY frustrated over time.

To use another metaphor, they are keyholes, fitted by the text for very specific keys. However, even if the key fits, the strategic progression of the game may not be affected at all. The openings, or keyholes, of the adventure game are therefore of two different functional kinds: those that advance the strategic position of the player and those that don't.

Cybertext 111

Finally some stuff I can wrap my head around. I guess it helps that a lot of the information Aarseth refers to in this chapter is a bit of a review from both Writing for the Internet and Video Game Culture and Theory, where I studied Interactive Fiction. However, I really like the passage above, because Aarseth perfectly explains how coding works without even referring to the action as parts of code. When I read this chapter, I immediately thought of MIT's new programming game called Scratch, where the users place together puzzle pieces in order to create code. It's still the whole "if...then" idea, but the puzzle pieces help kids (and adults) better understand why the "if...then" occurs. Dr. Jerz's video of Peter's test-drive through 9:05 exemplifies Aarseth's example as well. If you take a look at my old blog on Peter's adventure, I quoted Peter in saying "Drive car without crashing due to lack of Knowing what to say." Even though "drive car" is a logical response and fits with the code, it does not advance the gameplay, because of the rest of Peter's statement.

In my last blog, I argued that hypertext is just as linear as a book. But, if you consider interactive fiction to be a part of hypertext, I'd have to rethink my argument. In a text adventure, or even in just a regular old video game, you have a lot more freedom with how you advance your story. Sure there's usually a bit of a linear route with the main story line, but a lot of recent RPGs allow players to explore the world around them without focusing all or sometimes any of their energy on the main storyline. Even if Interactive fiction isn't as linear as regular fiction, I'd gladly argue that it's more valuable to society, because it's interactive. In fact, this is why Scratch is already such a widely successful programming tool--because it's interactive in it's teachings. And it's fun too.

If you ask me, the future of literature will rely on interactive fiction.



Hypertext Future

| No Comments
Gunnar Liestol contends that hypertext reading, like all reading, is linear in time and that the act of reading a hypertext reduces the nonlinearity of space to the linearity of time.

Cybertext 43

I find it really hard to believe that people argue that hypertext isn't linear. to the contrary, it's very linear, because it's still so similar to a book. Even though readers have the opportunity to jump from place to place via links in websites and hypertext documents, they're still following a specific path. As Aarseth mentions on page 47, "a hypertext path is only one (undirectional) link between text chunks is much more authoritarian and limiting than a detectie novel, in which the reader is free to read the ending at any time." Although this is true, I like to think that most seasoned mystery readers don't skip to the ending. It would be pretty interesting to see how they'd hold their own in a hypertext mystery, where they'd be unable to access such an ending until they complete the entire hypertext story. Then again, it's always possible that the user could simply click through all the links and arrive at the end of the story without reading the middle portions. See, hypertext IS linear, because there IS an ending. 

An interactive work is a work where the reader's interaction is an integrated part of the sign production of the work, in which the interaction is an object-sign indicating the same them as the other sings, not a meta-sign that indicates the signs of he discourse.

Cybertext 49

As much as I love reading physical books, I'm kind of anxious to see what a world would be like if everything we read was interactive. In a way, interactivity does change the level of linearity, because the more you interact with something, the more you'll get out of it. Having said that, what will classrooms be like when everyone has access to a laptop in class? How will this amount of interactivity alter things? I doubt people will ever fully rid the world of books, but I'm sure the eBooks phenomenon will make a lasting impression. It's already evident that people learn best by doing and by interacting; so, it only makes sense that more activities in school as well as in the work force and the rest of the world should be interactive. It's just hard for me to imagine what that world would be line now. Would everything be learned through video games?


I want to be elegant

| No Comments
Self-conscious stylists also write extravegently long sentences....You won't acquire an elegant style just by reading this book. You must read those who write elegantly until their style runs along your muscles and nerves. Only then can you ook at your own prose and know when it is elegant or just inflated.

Williams 130-131

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I'm guilty of writing long sentences. This passage makes me think back to the very beginning of this course when we read that too many students read the works of classic literature and think they need to write like those old guys in order to be successful. The more you read a certain style, the more likely you'll be to write that way. It's a shame when you think about it, because so many of us grow up with that background that it's almost unavoidable. And then I can't help but also think about Charles Dickens. Even though he probably wrote twice as much as he needed to, his writing was definitely elegant. So where's the happy medium? I take it it's just one of those things that you just feel in your bones. I know personally, when I write something, I know right from the start whether it's up to my expectations or not. I'm not sure if I've reached the point where I can point out which of my sentences aren't as elegant as others. I guess it's just going to take time.

Electronic Literature Makes Me Smile

| No Comments
This isn't my first interaction with Electronic Literature. As Dr.Jerz mentioned, we sampled this stuff back in EL 236 Writing for the Internet. I'll say now as I probably said a year and a half ago, that I love Electronic Literature. This is one of those things I hope to learn how to do in New Media Projects if we get to work with Adobe Flash. Electronic fiction is an excellent example of how computer users can take a regular work of fiction and turn it into an artistic display that is more than just a bunch of words. In addition to my new reactions, I'm providing links to my old reactions, because they were pretty in depth, even for a freshman.

A new form of literature? Blog 1 were my initial reactions to four of the stories I went through online.

A new form of literature? Blog 2 analyzed Inanimate Alice more indepth.

On to my more recent electronic literature findings...

I You We was an interesting find. Instead of reading from left to right, I found my eyes wandering all over the place. This particular site doesn't seem all that interactive to me, other than the reader's part in reading all of the words on the page. At times, I found myself growing dizzy from the movement of the words all over the place, but it was really interesting, because the whole thing revolves around the word I. Tons of tiny "we"s and "you"s float around amongst numerous verbs such as "captivate" and "spiral." You could also click and drag the mouse around, but I liked it a lot better when it moved on its own.

Windsound was an interesting one. When words finally appear on the screen, they're accompanied by a computer generated voice who attempts to read the text, some of which makes no sense to me. Over time, the voice changes from a man to a whisper to a woman and then back to a woman. There may be more changes, but I didn't listen to the whole 20 minutes presentation. The text and its background change with time as well. While this is an example of what printed text cannot do, I also think what this Electronic Literature is trying to show us that text-to-speech will never fully replace reading on our own. Although there were sections that I didn't understand, it was easier for me to read this than to listen to the computer reading it to me.

Like Maddie, I also chose to study RedRidingHood because I've always enjoyed fairytales, especially spins on the original. I also remembered Aja's analysis of the interactive story from EL 250. The whole experience was pretty weird. I suspect there's a lot of symbolism in this literature, but a lot of it escapes me. I take it the x-shaped flowers were meant to be poppies, since they acted as a drug that put Red to sleep. In preparation of reading this EL, I read through Aja's analysis of the "game," and it seems like I'm missing a lot of the links. So, I decided to spend the extra 20 minutes snooping around in the world of Red Riding Hood.

Extended play...

During the extra time I spent with RedRidingHood, I clicked around on as many things as I could think of. This got pretty frustrating, because sometimes the curser would switch over to the pointer finger icon and othertimes it wouldn't, even if there was something I could click on. I'm not a fan of this user interface. But, I did discover some other houses to visit in the apartments where Red lives. It took me a while, but I found the diary Aja was talking about, and in glancing through it, it makes you wonder if Red was really as innocent as the storybook version lets on. Out of all the Electronic Literature I've looked at, this one seems closest to my idea of what it should be. It's creative and interactive, and I love that it takes a new spin (but is it really new?) on an old story. If you have time, check it out!

15-pager Proposal

| No Comments
For my final paper, I'm really interested in studying the changes brought to the table by eBooks. We've been studying the progression of technology for some time now, but eReaders are fairly new, so there should be a lot of interesting literature online for me to sort through. Furthermore, I'd like to focus on a topic similar to what we just read in Aarseth's introduction--is there really a difference between electronic and printed media? Obviously there's a physical difference, but what other aspects are different. At this point, I'm not sure all cybertext can or should be compared to printed culture, because Interactive fiction and even hypertext fiction is drastically different from most print culture. I'm not even convinced that they belong in the same category. I really don't have a narrowed down topic just yet, because I'm not sure which angle to pursue.

Some questions to help with my research:

Aside from physical appearance, how else do print and electronic media differ?

What is lost in the transition from print to digital?

What are the advantages to reading an eBook over a physical book?

What is text?

Can electronic text speak better than printed text?


iBooks vs text books

| 3 Comments
What these strangely irrelevant exuberances reaveal, I think, is that beyond the obvious differences of appearance, the real difference between paper texts and computer texts is not very clear. Does it even exist?

--Aarseth 17

A few years ago, I probably would've argued the case for there being a major difference between print media and digital media. I'll still argue that I prefer the look and feel of a book in my hands over reading a book on my laptop or even on my iPhone. I'm not ashamed to admit that I used to own a kindle, but had no use for it, because I prefer physical books. But, with the introduction of the Apple iPad, I'm starting to see the two blend together. I fear that society is slowly shying away from print media. Look at digital vs film photography. Film is almost obsolete at this point--and I'm not sure how far off print culture is, especially with the "green" movement.
I could argue that it's just not the same to not turn the page of the book I'm currently reading, but Apple's new iPad simulates that experience for you--as you swipe your fingers across the screen, you can control how fast the page turns. Pretty cool stuff. For those of you who are interested, here's a five minute video that illustrates how Apple's iBooks will function similarly to physical books.



Aside from the physical attributes to the iPad versus a physical books, I really can't see much difference. You still get the same out of the iPad as you would a physical book--maybe even more.
However, let me reflect briefly on what Aarseth had to say about some cybertext. I'd defnitely agree that not all online material is linear as a book would be. In EL 236, we read and created hypertext fiction and interactive fiction. Like Aarseth points out, the reader is a player rather than just a reader and she bares the consequences of her actions.

Having said that, I'm pretty excited to see what SHU can do with the iPad. As for me, I'll definitely use the iPad for some of my classes at least, but I still don't forsee myself fully transitioning over to eBook-world. Sorry.

Commonplace Books = Blogging?

| No Comments
They also turned their reading into writing, because commonplacing made them into authors. It forced them to write their own books; and by doing so they developed a still sharper sense of themselves as autonomous individuals.

--Darnton 170

Before reading this chapter, I'd never come across the term "commonplace book" before. I'm still struggling a little bit with the exact meaning of what it is, but from what I can tell, it's a book that has quotes and passages from other authors with similar meaning? And, the authors of these commonplace books used them to analyze the quotes they chose to include in the books? 
I could be completely wrong with my analysis of this text, but oh well, at least I'm giving it a shot. If I'm right, which I'm pretty sure I am, these commonplace books were a precursor to what students do now when they study. We copy down important facts from our text books and then attempt to analyze it. It might not always be successful (like right now), but the work is definitely half the battle.
I'm pretty sure I could even go so far as to argue that our academic blogs are a revolutionary form of commonplace books, because they usually showcase a direct quote from the original text and then follow suite with an analysis or comments concerning that text.
Regardless, society would be lost without these books. I find it interesting that we're studying this now, however, because I imagine a commonplace book as a manuscript document or a diary--I can't imagine Thomas Jefferson typing this out on paper, but again, I could be wrong.
Even if they are diaries, there's no shame in that, because like Darnton mentions in chapter 10, we use these books to better understand what the author of the commonplace book thought of other authors.
Although we don't practice "commonplacing" now, we definitely take notes and write down the important stuff, which in turn turns us into authors just as Darnton points out in chapter 10. 

Interruptions and Introductions

| 1 Comment
You also frustrate readers when you interrupt the connection between a subject and verb, like this:

Some scientists, because they write in a style that is impersonal and objective, do not easily communicate with laypeople.

--Williams, 90

Before reading this chapter, I would've thought that sentence was fine as it stood, but I understand where Williams argument fits. The phrase in the middle does force a pause in the original thought. However, my first thought of revision isn't what Williams would've suggested:

Because they write in a style that is impersonal and objective, some scientists do not easily communicate with laypeople.

Unfortunately, after reading the introductions section of this chapter, I'm forced to rethink this revision, because it doesn't get to the point quickly enough. I still think that if I had to choose between the original and my revision, I'd go with my revision, but at the same time, I don't think my revision is all that strong either. 

At this point I'm almost at a loss. I thought maybe I could revise it like this:

Some scientists do not easily communicate with laypeople because they write in a style that is impersonal and objective.

But, I keep thinking back to what Williams has said over and over again about keeping the new information and the end and the old at the beginning of a sentence. 

In short, what I've really learned from this chapter is that I've still got a lot of room for improvement. My writing style relies heavily on introductory phrases as well as interrupting clauses, so it looks like I'm back to the drawing board all over again. Oops.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2010 is the previous archive.

May 2010 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.