Sunday, September 12, 2010

Simple model of reading

I've been thinking about a simple model of reading that can be applied to texts of all kinds - books, new media and virtual worlds. There's only 2 aspects to the model (although that's a bit of a cheat, because they all break down much further). They are: 1. operating the interface, 2. engagement. First of all then, operating the interface in the typographic world involves all that book knowledge, directionality and decoding stuff, whereas the analagous skills in online texts are sometimes the same and sometimes different with large doses of clicking and pointing, dragging and dropping and so on. The important point about operating the interface is that for a skilled user it becomes naturalised and usually takes place beneath the level of consciousness. That frees up attention for the second aspect engagement. Not, of course, that they should be seen as sequential operations or to suggest a developmental path for learning. Engagement is all about meaning-making and at the moment I see it as having 3 dimensions. The first is interest, because without that we won't have the energy to give the text enough attention. The second is point of view. Somehow or other an interaction between our point of view and the point(s) of view in the text needs to happen. In other words we need to negotiate the meaning. Finally, we have belief. Seems a bit strange, I know, but after reading about virtuality (I recommend Laila Shereen Sakr) I'm starting to think that the textual meaning is in some senses virtual. We have to believe in it to engage with it. That doesn't mean we have to believe or accept the point of view or the message, but we have to believe the text to bring it into being. More on this, no doubt, in future postings. Stay tuned!!

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