Working through this week’s readings, and readings for another class, I am left questioning the expectations digital texts (and traditional texts) have of me, the reader. As I read Paul Ford’s “As We May Type”, I found myself torn between wanting to read the post in its entirety and wanting to stop to click on a hyperlink that will take me on a related excursion. And then I asked, what is Ford’s expectation of me, the reader? Does he want me to click as I read, or wait until the end? Does it change his message?
Ford introduces three new, yet very different, composing tools: Fargo, Editorially (which has since been made unavailable due to a lack of interest), and Medium (to name a few). In this very post I myself have included hyperlinks to these tools. My purpose being to allow readers to access these tools right away if they so desire. If you notice on Ford’s piece, he did not insert hyperlinksfor Fargo, Editorially, and Medium in the body text of the post, but in the margin as a list. Why include hyperlinks to demos and talks within the text, but not to the tools he is writing about? Did he want the reader’s complete attention? (It didn’t deter me from immediately visiting the site.) I actually ignored the list on the right linking me to all of these tools he reviews.
I found it interesting to try to read about a new tech tool, instead of playing around with it. While reading, I had to fight the urge not to go play with them. Although, Ford’s piece did provide background information as to how these tools were developed, for what purpose, and how they are different from others, so that was helpful. I did not overcome the urge to stop reading and go play, however. Just after reading a little about Fargo, I visited Fargo’s website and wanted to play around with it. Then I came across this screen: I As a new visitor, I could either click the left button and be taken to a page that explains what it is, or I could click the right button and start to mess around with the tool. I immediately wanted to choose the right button and jump right in. I wanted to definite it for myself, not how the creators define it. Which button one clicks seems to say something about the person. Am I a person who plays first, then reads the directions? Yes.
How is reading a digital text, and making decisions about hyperlinks, different from reading a text with charts, tables and figures? Does my decision making change? Initially, I would say no. For the New Horizon Report 2014, I found myself at the beginnings of each section wanting to go look at the framework or figure used to make decisions about what to include in the report. I kept thinking (as I have done for years with these texts), when should I go look at the chart to which the authors are referring? Of course, I know I have a choice in this, but what if my choice changes the message, or if I lose out on something? It would be interesting to evaluate how effective these choices are in understanding the material. (If the results differ, that is.)
My last question: Do we teach these reading practices to our students? As I’ve worked through the curriculum writing process for eight years now, I have had the chance to peek into prospective English, math, science, and history textbooks, and there is a significant amount of images, tables, graphs, and figures (it seems to have increased). I’m left wondering how often we take the time to go over how to read them? Additionally, how much time do we take examining digital texts in the same way?