reading and ebooks

I’ve been musing on all of this discussion about what technology, the internet and new media are doing to our brains. Surface skimming and deep diving, information and knowledge…Thinking about the argument that says we need solitude and significant lengths of uninterrupted time in order to think clearly, to be both productive and creative. The argument that says we need to be disconnected for at least some of the time.

I began to think about the nature of reading. I’ve been seduced by ebook readers lately, whether kindles or ipads it doesn’t really matter. But what I’ve noticed is that while they’re great for any sort of non-fiction, whether it’s news and journal articles, reference tools and particularly textbooks, they’re not quite as successful for me when it comes to fiction. The interactivity, the images and the links are great for ideas but not for narrative. For me narrative comes close to collaboration, where we become co-creators with the author. We enter the world they create but we fill it out with our own associations, experiences and aesthetic. The framework is there but we need solitude and an absence of electronic ‘noise’ to enjoy the intimacy of the relationship. Reading fiction is an opportunity to be present and personal rather than social. The librarian in me is suggesting that maybe we should turn off the gadgets sometimes and create the space to read a good novel!

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3 Responses to reading and ebooks

  1. sonia says:

    I am not sure I understand. Novels – ebook or otherwise – don’t have links.

    • ruffl says:

      hi sonia. there are some amazing novels out in ebook format with lots of interactivity. hyperlinking to word definitions at the most simple level to offerring links to alternative endings; links to sources and references that might be used in a poem (think t.s. eliot’s ‘the wasteland’) or a novel, links to maps and places, biographies. it kind of blurs the line between fiction and non-fiction in an interesting way don’t you think?

    • ruffl says:

      forget to include this in my previous reply (just to give an idea of where ebooks and interactivity might be going) http://phictive.com/essay/. cheers, linda

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