On reading

At some point, two different things about reading ended up in my “tabs to read” window – one about skim reading and the other about reading with a pencil.

In the first, Maryanne Wolf (Director of the Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learners, and Social Justice at UCLA) talks about how our brains’ ability to read is changing as we read on electronic devices more:

My research depicts how the present reading brain enables the development of some of our most important intellectual and affective processes: internalized knowledge, analogical reasoning, and inference; perspective-taking and empathy; critical analysis and the generation of insight. Research surfacing in many parts of the world now cautions that each of these essential “deep reading” processes may be under threat as we move into digital-based modes of reading.

She goes on to talk about we have less “patience to read longer, denser, more difficult texts” and along with that potentially comes less ability to apply higher levels of critical analysis to such texts (or perhaps also in texts we come across in every day life like contracts or wills).

The whole article is worth reading (especially how the change in reading is coming with a change in empathy) but the main thing that interested me was how reading on physically printed media instead of a digital device kind of added “a spatial ‘thereness’ for text” and readers have a better sense of where they are in what they are reading – a place “to go back, to check and evaluate one’s understanding of a text.”

The second tab I’ve had open – the one from Austin Kleon’s blog about reading with a pencil made me really think about how I read. I don’t think I could ever actually write IN a book, which is also interesting to me – there are people who freely write in books they own and then there are people who would never dream of it and is there anyone in between?

Marginalia means to me that I’ve paid attention to the thing that I was reading – for the essays and such that I’ve written in the past, I’ve always had to print out papers (in part to highlight them and make notes) rather than attempt to read them in a digital format. Even though I can’t bring myself to write notes in a book, the books I used for my dissertation were RIDDLED with post-it notes with various scribbles and arrows on them.

I feel like I don’t read as much as I used to – I certainly don’t get through as many books as I once did. However, when I really think about it, I wonder if I am really reading less or is it that reading in a digital format somehow counts less? Instead of zipping through novels, I read fanfic, journal articles, meta, Twitter, newsletters (the satisfaction of reading a blog with the ease of it being right there in my inbox, though I never forsook RSS), the odd Livejournal/Dreamwidth entry… so am I really reading less? Or is it that I don’t have the patience for long things anymore?  I know I don’t understand how anyone can binge-watch a series – I can watch two episodes tops before I have to switch to a different series.

Anyway. It is a thing I have been thinking about.

Other stuff:

Round-up of things

I’ve not really got anything else this week.

Reading old newsletters

I’m subscribed to a few newsletters and tend to read them either immediately or months after I received them.

So now I know what an omelette thing stemmed from, that made the rounds on the twitters and other newsletters that I did read when I got them. Months after the fact.

Some things from newsletters:

I don’t think I was ever a blogger. I had a livejournal for a long time and various blogs etc over the years, but I don’t know if I ever had anything in particular to broadcast.

I <3 RSS 5eva

Reading a Wired article on how RSS is apparently coming back and mostly struck by the fact that, for me at least, it never went away.

Still, the lasting appeal of RSS remains the parts that haven’t changed: the unfiltered view of the open web, and the chance to make your own decisions about what you find there.

“The most amazing thing to me about RSS is that no one really went away from it,” says Wolf. “It still exists. Somehow through all of this. It’s crazy, in a way, that when you go away from RSS and then come back to it, it’s all still there.”

I LOVE RSS.

I browse Tumblr by RSS. I BROWSE TUMBLR BY RSS. And boy am I glad that the spooky names for October business died down because now I only have to check who I am following every once in a while to see who just randomly changed their URL (I have never understood the changing your URL stuff, how are people you know supposed to find you?). I get podcasts by RSS. I still follow a few blogs by RSS.

I miss Google Reader, but now I use Feedly and keep a foot in over at Inoreader and maybe I’m gonna see if I still have an Old Reader account because I liked that one. I also use an RSS reader in the Opera Browser which currently is kind of an extension that is replicated in the latest version a thing that used to be in the old version but Opera has brought in some thing called “News” that tries to hijack RSS feeds away from the RSS reader extension I installed. And you can’t turn the news thing off.

WHY REMOVE A THING, ONLY TO PUT IT BACK WORSE AFTER LIKE FIVE YEARS?

RSS may have sometimes delivered the last 20 items that I already read from a blog, but at least they have never been delivered to me out of chronological order.

Very endless implications

Lately I find myself subscribing to more newsletters. Partly I blame Warren Ellis, mostly I think I just miss the stream of longer form wittering that I used to get from my Livejournal friends page. I never stopped being annoyed when a website failed to furnish me with a RSS feed (or get slightly angry when they removed it).

Oh you don’t have RSS, well I guess I don’t need to look at your website at all.

Which maybe is a little counter-intuitive, since RSS tends to just give you the latest thing (and yeah, I don’t enjoy the RSS feeds that only give truncated snippets), but since if the latest thing in my aggregator looks interesting, I open it in a new tab to pay attention to later then…

Newletters. I don’t always get to them as they arrive, but every so often I binge on a few of them (it’s the same with podcasts for me).

Anyway, I’m slowly putting some links to the ones I subscribe to in the sidebar. Enjoy.

Yes, I would like to subscribe to this feeling

In this week’s edition of Sarah Jaffe’s newletter she says:

“I keep those things closer to the vest these days; once upon a time I was as much a feelsblogger as anyone but, well, some combination of adulthood, professionalism, and Literally Everyone Being On The Internet now marked a shift there.”

And isn’t that a great term? Feelsblogger. I’ve never really been one to talk about how I feel about anything – online or offline. Maybe I did right at the beginning of the Livejournal days, but mostly due to a lack of anything to really say? Most of my writing back then was on Usenet, so that’s where all the real substance (such as it was) went.

Now all the feels I have on the internet are about Star Trek or Captain America or Star Wars or some other media I have engaged with. For me, I’m not sure that anything has changed now that I’m a so-called grown-up with a job and anyone could search for my witterings – perhaps I’m more likely to share my feels (limited to scifi, very little to do with life events)? I don’t think I’ve ever put anything online that I wouldn’t want someone to find – I’ve looked back at those early LJ days and there’s nothing embarassing, though it is like looking in a mirror at someone wholly unrecognisable to me now.

So this Stop Online Piracy Act…

You know how, before a film like Captain America or Thor or any of the films of Michael Fassbender, the internets explodes with fangirling and fanboying and stuff?

If this SOPA thing actually went into effect, does that mean all the free advertising and hype-making from rabid fangirls gets banninated? If so, how is that good for the film industry?