Resources for Students Wishing to Study Digital Text Reading Behaviors

Image of my print copy of Bolter with (excessive?) marginalia p. 77 

        Documents without punctuation or word division may seem bizarre (Bolter 76-77 and 83), but think about writing as a representation in text of what someone has said.  Is there clear word division in the stream of sound we make when reading this sentence out loud?  What form does punctuation take, or should it take, when we read this sentence?  Note that modern logical punctuation differs from ancient "musical" punctuation; the former was for the eye, the latter for the ear.  When silent reading replaced the habit of reading aloud, punctuation conventions appear to have grown more important to help the eye bring order to the silent text on the page.  For another undivided, unpunctuated MS, see the British Library's image of a leaf from the Biblical Codex Sinaiticus.  Its all-capital alphabet in Biblical majuscule (i.e., caps) is similar to the script of the Vatican Library's Virgil in Capitalis Quadrata.

        Some Possible Questions to Discuss about Bolter.

1)  In Bolter's analysis, what is "linear reading" (76-8)?

2)  What kind of reading does Bolter call  "dialogue" (78-80)?

3)  What is reading a "network" (81-84)?

4)  What old-print typographic (or "paratextual") features may change in the new hypertextual environment (86)?

        Students who want to explore the claims made by Bolter and Sven Birkerts about the nature of reading in a hypertextual environment (i.e., online) may want to read Stephenson, Wen. "The message is the medium: a reply to Sven Birkerts and 'The Gutenberg Elegies'." Chicago Review 41.n4 (Fall 1995): 116(15). Goucher College Library. 8 Jan. 2007.  Available online from this stable URL: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&db=ufh&db=lxh&db=mzh&bquery=(message+%22is%22+the+medium%3a+a+reply+to+Sven+Birkerts)&type=1&site=ehost-live  

        Students interested in a sociological and cognitive studies approach to on-screen reading compared with print-text reading should read Ralf Schneider, "Hypertext narrative and the reader: a view from cognitive theory."  European Journal of English Studies; Aug2005, Vol. 9 Issue 2, p197-208, 12p.  Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=17980481&site=ehost-live .

1)  What does Schneider say are ordinary reading's "non-linear processes" (199-200)?

2)  What does Schneider say may change about "character" in hypertext fictions, and how might that also affect hypertext non-fictions (e.g., blogs, ordinary web pages like this one, Wikipedia entries, etc.) (203)?

        Students interested in the Internet's effect on social coherence and reliable information definitely should read Cass Sunstein's 2001 article (a section of a book chapter), "Fragmentation and Cybercascades" in Writing Materials, pp. 453-66.  In his introduction, Sunstein, writing eight years before the events, predicted the emergence of the "tea party" movement of 2009, and described the "cybercascades" of "fake news" that submerged the 2016 presidential election in debates about false or misleading charges that misled voters and encouraged low turnout.