Monday, October 18, 2010

“Violation of Virgin Text”(?)

Can eReaders deepen student engagement with text?  See “wiki-italicization” etc in

Can eReader devices enable deeper student engagement with text?  
Annotation and highlighting options are described as  “wiki-italicization” and explored by Virginia Heffernan in the article “The Medium:  E-Readers' Collectiveexcerpted below. Pls read it in preparation for TLTG’s 1st online book discussion session this Friday 10/22 2pm ET - _Crazy Busy_ by Edward Hallowell, because we’ll also discuss how and why to run online book discussions.

MAGAZINE   | October 17, 2010
The Medium:  E-Readers' Collective
What's the use of reading in a crowd?

“...italics added right in books, postpublication, by readers, in a kind of wiki-italicization project? These are the so-called “popular highlights” that now show up in Kindle e-books. Marked by a dotted underscore that indicates that other Kindle users have found the passages significant, popular highlights constitute crowd-sourced literary criticism. Readers, on the spot and yet collaboratively, make meaning of what they’re reading. The effect is odd — even for those of us who see literature as something readers determine incrementally and collectively.

“.... The dotted line, like the distinctive hue or underscore that signals a word is clickable on the Web, may be a new kind of punctuation that affects contemporary style.

“Readers coming to e-books freshly purchased from Amazon might be taken aback to find them
already marked up. Stumbling on a passage that other people care about, framed as though you
should care about it too, can seem like a violation of virgin text. It’s bad enough that vandals
have gotten to your “new” edition before you have and added emphases unendorsed by author
or publisher.

“...feeling alone enough to read.

“But there’s a genie-in-the-bottle problem here. As with many things on the Web, once you’ve glimpsed popular highlights, it’s hard to unglimpse them. You get curious about what other readers think,

“Reading, after all, is only superficially solitary; in fact, it’s a form of intensive participation in language and the building of common culture.

“... finding yourself one of many — can be uncomfortable.  But if you can’t handle that discomfort, you shouldn’t be reading popular books

If you don’t want to read a book that’s been “popularly highlighted,” but you want to get a sense
of what Kindle underliners believe is poetry, check out Amazon’s list of most-highlighted
passages at
Kindle devotees: don’t just complain about popular highlights, do something. Highlight your own
passage, and get your friends to do the same. As of October, it seems to take only a few dozen
highlights to win a popular-highlight underscore.
In “Is There a Text in This Class?” (1980), Stanley Fish of The Times — not that anyone owns
Stanley Fish — wrote the book on reader-response criticism. Not available for Kindle yet. Hey,
readers: respond and request.
10/18/2010 The Medium - E-Readers Collective - NY…

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