iapresentation

Watching digital readers

Posted in content, Data, ideas, Online by solle on 02/06/2009

One of the things our grandchildren will find quaintest about us is that we distinguish the digital from the real‘ William Gibson

Somewhere between Nicholas Carr’s ‘Is Google Making us Stupid?‘ and Clive Thompson on the Future of Reading in a Digital World there is the issue of how we are viewed when we read. It has become increasingly evident that depending on how you are reading, what you are reading and upon what you are reading you are viewed very differently.

how-computer-works

It is said that it is more acceptable to read a newspaper at the breakfast table than a paperback novel. Why? Is it because the viewer can see something of what the reader is reading and approximately where they are in their reading but with a paperback novel it is hard to establish exactly what is being read and where the reader is? Books can seem private and cut off.

Is reading a newspaper or magazine or book at the breakfast table more acceptable than reading from a Kindle (or like), laptop or iPhone (or like)? Why? Is it because the viewer can see something of what the reader is reading and approximately where they are in their reading – be it the title, the cover, the cover story or at very least that it is a book or a newspaper etc – but when the reader is using a digital device they can’t even be sure they are actually reading and if they are reading you have no way (apart from maybe facial expressions) what they are reading? Viewer feels no sense of engagement.

Of course in some circumstances (ie dinner party) it is frowned upon to read anything but especially a newspaper or a paperback novel but you might just be able to squeeze in reading a short summary of a sporting event on your mobile phone without too much objection (or risk of never being invited again).

Likewise when attending a lecture, panel event or roundtable it is perfectly acceptable to multi task reading connected and non connected stuff from a mobile phone or laptop – the feeling is that the reader is still engaged with their surroundings, involved with the event, in the conversation – but reading a newspaper or book in this environment would give the impression of non interest, non engagement, being separate from their surroundings (even though they may be reading something directly relevant).

Like the William Gibson quote describes, in time these differentiations will become quaint references to a time when individuals discussed the digital and non-digital/’real’.

Please comment below with any other references on the subject.

Thanks newhousedesign for Ladybird picture

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