Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Post 7: Online Publishing

Do you primarily read digitally (online or digital device) or in print? Please discuss your preferred method and the reasons why you choose one over the other. What would you describe as the main advantages and disadvantages of reading digitally versus in print?


Sicong Zhao said...

Although I feel lots of flaws in reading digitally, I still read more digitally than in print. Anyway, I feel reading digitally is more like an obligation to fulfill for me, other than spontaneously. Here is what I think.
The most noticeable flaw in reading digitally for me is the distraction, which has two parts of a syndrome. Sometimes when I’m reading news and articles digitally, I tend to scroll all the way down to the bottom to see what happened at last, without reading thoroughly of all the content. So such an action may lead to a result of pseudo acknowledgement, means I thought I know something, but truth is I didn’t. To my confusion, such a syndrome never happened when I read in print, no matter books or newspapers. I wonder if it’s a psychological disorder of mine, or an intrinsic flaw of the digital content itself.
Another syndrome is poor focus. Unlike a book, or a newspaper, whose content is settled and limited, there is way too much digital information which is easy to distract people from one topic to another. When you are reading online, there is whole lot of information marked “related” to what you are reading, which has a high potential to distract people from their original need. Even if it's a designated platform like e-book, it’s still a highly diversified content system. As you can see, it’s hard to imagine that there is only one book in someone’s e-book. I feel like this is an universal problem that not only occurred on me. Although I tell myself consistently to focus on what I’m reading, I’m still easily distracted by the other content, and I believe most of others could suffer from this syndrome as well.
Moreover, I feel a sense of structural lost when reading digitally. When I’m reading books o newspapers, I have a sense of book structure in my mind, that I can always remember the location of the content. For example, when I heard something I’m familiar with, yet couldn’t remember specifically, I can sometimes tell like “It’s somewhere top right corner of what book”. And I can always find it without difficulty, because the whole book is a big structure in my mind. While when I’m reading digitally, I feel a sense of numb by flipping page by page or site by site, that I sometimes know I read something somewhere, yet never be able to recall where.
However, the reason I still read digitally more than in print is that reading digitally is too convenient as I don’t need to bring thick books anymore, and the news information are always available online with even more content than on newspapers. Using Roger’s theory, it is the relative advantage that stimulates me to read digitally instead of reading in print.
At last, I have a particular habit of my own that I have to study in print. I don’t mind reading digitally for some informational material, but have to read in print when I’m studying to acquire a more effective outcome. I can barely understand a theory or memorize an example when I read digitally. Wondering if that’s another syndrome of reading digitally of mine.

Raeann Ritland said...

I primarily read digitally. In an effort to cut down on printing costs and conserving paper, many professors choose either to post things on BlackBoard or post through the library’s course reserves. The majority of my professors have chosen this method. Likewise, my research (for my assistantship) is conducted almost exclusively online. We utilize Dropbox for sharing data/information, and my main project last year was performing an extensive and exhaustive literature search using Web of Knowledge. For that, I had to read soooo many articles online. Also, I TA for an online class, so when creating course materials, I read/created everything on the computer, and when grading, I read everything on my computer screen (some 15 hours for every assignment/discussion board topic).
However, despite the amount of digital reading I do, it is not by choice. I much prefer reading hard copies of text. I find the advantages greatly outweigh any negatives. First, I like the feel of paper and the lack of glare. After so long, digital screens bother my eyes. They start to burn, and I have to take a break. Second, I can take paper with me anywhere. Not having a laptop of my own means I’m stuck wherever the computer is. Usually, this also means I’m also stuck reading wherever there’s an internet connection. Due to this, I tend to stay home instead of visiting my siblings (2.5 hours away). If I have paper, then I can read in the car or read at their apartments. Third, paper is easier to flip through. If I want to check something some 10 pages back, I have to scroll forever or take the time to click “back” ten times. With paper, I can flip backwards. Fourth, paper allows me to take notes in the margins, highlight important things, and/or underline phrases. I can do that if I save a copy on the computer, but it’s often too much of a hassle. Fifth, when I read paper copies, I tend to pay more attention. Since all my digital reading is online, I tend to get distracted far more easily. I open Facebook or do cryptograms (my latest time-waster) or Sudokus.

Aimee Burch said...

I primarily read print versions of things. I much prefer holding a book in my hands, printing off research articles so I can take notes in the margins, and getting my favorite magazine in a nice, thick stack.
My friends hear me say the phrase, "If I don't write it down, it doesn't exist" on a regular basis. I think that's why I prefer the print version of things, especially when it comes to my academic works.
However, this past week I broke down and got a 1st generation iPad from Amazon. So far, I really love it, especially for reading magazines. I recently read the "Reunions" issue of Entertainment Weekly on my iPad. The interactive features it had were quite interesting. The pictures were clear and vivid and the magazine had exclusive photos and other content for readers. It was a pretty cool first experience. I'm not sure I'm ready to use it for hard-core studying and research, but so far my experiences have been pretty good.

Rebecca Peterson said...

I read about the same in print as online. Like RaeAnn said, we, too, are under pressure to save $$ by putting most course materials online. I have compromised, I guess. If I am teaching a first year course I print out the syllabus for everyone and I ask for hard copies of rough drafts to mark on. I ask students to pull out assignments, syllabi, etc all the time and write notes on them. However, I try to put many materials online as well, kind of like "breaking them in." For second year classes I put reading, assignments, syllabi, drop boxes for assignments, etc. exclusively online. Issues of access are a concern on my campus, so I try to have print copies available if students need them. I am also under pressure in my department to move to free online textbooks, which I'll be discussing later in my class presentation.
In my personal reading I also do half and half. I love magazines (subscribe to at least a dozen personally and am on the routing list for another half dozen at work). All of these are in print. But I read novels on my kindle because electronic copies are cheaper than print and I can find any book I want online. But I do miss the feel of a book. Like others have said here, I can remember where I read information on the page (near the top left page, etc.). And I like to flip back when reading fiction if I can't remember exactly who a character was or something. This is much easier to do with a hard copy. So I guess I am divided. Somethings are fine online, but I'm not ready to give up paper yet.

Raeann Ritland said...

Aimee's mention of her new iPad made me think about The Daily app I have on my iPod. I can agree that it's nice to have the option of reading the news without having to pick up the paper; however, I still think I prefer the printed version of the newspaper. First, I like it because each issue has the same format, making it easy for me to flip to specific areas (like the police blotter). This is similar to what Rebecca referenced when she talked about being able to remember where certain topics are on the page (I do that too and find it very helpful/useful). Second, the app doesn't have all the same things that the print copies do (again, like the police blotter). Also, maybe it's just my iPod, but the technology seems to not work half the time. When I want to read an article, it won't load.
There's a flipside to all of this, though, too. Whereas the print copy is simply for that day, the app seems to keep older articles within the scroll bar for a few days. This is nice, because instead of finding an old newspaper, I can simply scroll through and see what I missed.
I suppose then, I am like many others: torn between digital and print. But I cannot deny my fondness for print.

Anonymous said...

I have different patterns of reading regarding different contents. I prefer to read print version for books, this might be just the habit. Sometimes I read books online in order to save money, or it's not that convenient to buy or borrow Chinese books in the U.S.. But for news I like reading it through iPhone or computer. It's not just because it's quick and efficient, but I believe reading news online could possibly save some trees.

Sarah Wiley said...

It depends on what I am actually reading. My day-to-day reading (e-mails [duh], newspapers, etc) are all on-line. Many of my school projects and all of my internship are conducted online so that also requires extensive digital reading. I do, however, have a hard time reading PDFs, books, or other lengthy sources online. I like to have actual paper in front of me on which I can highlght, comment, and take notes. Paper is also much more portable: I can sit outside in the grass and not have to worry about glare from a screen or a low battery. There are few things better than reading a good book poolside in the summer. I would never venture to do that with digital readers. I also fall asleep reading so if I roll over onto a books is a couple of wrinkled pages, not a $500 piece of technology. Ultimately, I see the utility of online reading, but I much prefer paper. Something just seems to be lost when you use digital.

Amber Knutson said...

I prefer to read everything in print. I like the tangibleness of the book and paper, itself.
Last year, to save money, I bought a returnable ebook on amazon for one of my classes. While, the experience wasn't completely negative - and the techy-ness of it made me look forward to reading - when studying, I found that I needed to write long passages down because you can't flip through pages like you can with a real book. I found that flipping through pages of the ebook required me to read every page, instead of knowing "about" what page something was on. In addition, kindles don't have page numbers, which made it that much more difficult.
Although I prefer to read everything in print, like Raeann and Rebecca noted, I have been forced to read much of what's given to me in a digital format and, like Bill, I find reading online and in a digital format quite distracting.
While I appreciate the printed option, I wonder, though, how the next generation will think of things.