Friday, April 29, 2011

How Form Affects Function

In class today we discussed how the format of a particular piece of writing affects its function. I didn't pipe up in class but I could think of several examples, specifically when our discussion turned towards the scriptures. So... stories ....

My mom was teaching a sunday school class of 8 year-olds and was attempting to introduce them to the footnote systems that the LDS scriptures use. She asked them, "How would you find out more information about King Solomon?" They answered as any digital native might, "Google it." Duh. And I reminded her that in all actuality, they would probably all be reading their scriptures on their iPhones by the time they're in seminary and thus really would google things they were unfamiliar with or at least be able to hit the links to the footnotes which makes much more sense to them than a footnote. The experience made us chuckle.

Also, my husband has experimented with reading his scriptures conventionally and also online. I think we've both found we prefer to read them in physical format, though mainly this is because of all the distractions available when you read scriptures online. But someone in class said you cannot highlight and such, and if you go to and log in using your membership account information, they have created a pretty functional highlighting and commenting system that I really like. One of the interesting aspects of studying scriptures online that I've noticed is that I tend to share what I learn more often when I already have access to networks as I'm studying. For example, this morning I did a gospel study online and because my husband was already at work but I wanted to share my learning with him, I was able to just quickly email him my written thoughts from what I'd learned.

I'm going to read a book on this topic next week: The Case for Books, but I'm curious to know, what differences have you noticed about the differing functions of reading in different formats?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Book Choices

For my book on Digital Culture I actually chose the "anti"-route and decided to read Robert Darnton's The Case for Books, since I think I've probably taken enough courses from Dr. Burton to have heard all the pro-arguments. ;) No, I am really interested to hear the arguments against the digital formats, since I am not really bothered by reading in digital format or paper format. I think there's benefits to both. I am excited to see what Darnton says.

For my personal literary work (pending approval from Dr. Burton), I have chosen to reread The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I really enjoyed it when I read it the first time around and I know there will be plenty of literary scholarship on it already, though what I can possibly have to add to that conversation, I have no idea.

Personal Reading History

I remember coming to my mom one summer sometime in my early adolescence and telling her I was bored. At this point, she suggested a host of books that she had read as a youth. I wasn't into reading and I tried getting into The Boxcar Children books and Nancy Drew, honest I did, but it just reinforced to me that reading was more boring than TGIF and my weekly helping of Boy Meets World.

It wasn't till my dad wanted some father/ daughter bonding time and decided to read aloud Tolkein to me that the world of books was really opened to me. Not only did we read together but he expounded his countless theories about how these books related to gospel themes which sparked a myriad of discussions that lasted late into the night. From there dad was able to direct me to a whole world of books that he had grown up loving and reading. I never finished The Hitchhiker's Guide but I really enjoyed the first couple books of Another Fine Myth. Then the Harry Potter craze started and after the third book came out, I yielded to a close friend's insistence to give them a try. The books gave not only my dad and I, but by this time several of my siblings, something to read and talk about together. 

At this point I began to read, almost bookclub style, with my two sisters closest in age. We read I believe all of Tamora Peirce's quartets, and things like Johnathan Shroud's Bartimaeus trilogy, Shannon Hale's fairy-tale like YA fiction, and later Chistopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle. We would read and swap and discuss and I believe the books not only shaped our imaginations but also, in part, who we wanted to become. I was very strongly influenced at a young age by Peirce's strong feminist heroines and Shroud's sarcastic characterizations.