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?


  1. I completely agree about there being too many distractions when you read the scriptures (or most anything, for that matter) online. Though I'm thrilled that information is more accessible now than ever, it's concerning to me and my health generally when I find that 3 hours have passed and I've only halfway completed a task I assigned myself, if I remember it at all. Granted, this is perhaps a personal discipline issue, but it doesn't occur in nearly the same way when I'm reading paper.

    Generally, reading from a screen leaves me feeling drained and intellectually weak. Reading from a page makes me feel renewed and capable.

  2. I am partial to good old fashion books. There is just something about turning the page myself that I love! My mom loves her digital tablet reader. While I do envy the amount of books she can hold in one place, I still would rather read the printed page. When I read on the tablet or on my computer, I feel as though I am reading an article instead of a book. Besides, I like seeing how much I have read- it gives a sense of accomplishment.

  3. A comment emailed from a friend (Jeri Jorgensen), posted with permission:

    I love to read my hard copy scriptures. I have many glue-in's like maps that show where Assyria & Babylon are today and other such info valuable to me (and maybe only me). Though I do not believe in "photographic memory" I do find myself saying (to myself) "yes, that scripture is found on the left hand page second column near the bottom" something I wouldn't be able to say about scriptures on my IPod Touch. If you lose a Touch, or phone or electronic book you've lost them all, if I misplace my book in the airport I've lost only one. Maybe I'm showing my age, but books are fun to cuddle up with on a cool evening and there is much comfort in gazing at my book shelf.

  4. Bri, great new blog! I appreciated your comment on my blog, I just wish you hadn't erased it.

  5. wait wait wait ... i didn't erase it. I had a lot of trouble posting it in the first place; blogger wouldn't let me post to your blog for some reason. I can comment on other people's blogs but yours is treating me funny. I don't know why it erased itself but I'll try again. :)

  6. For me, highlighting something on the computer isn't the same as highlighting physically. Writing a note online isn't the same as writing a note in the margin. I am grateful for email and other useful ways to get in touch with people, but I imagine I'll always be rather old school in most ways. :) However, whatever helps people get their scriptures studied, personal progress done is good by me. :)