Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Opening Windows on the Text

We had some interesting feedback from a valued critic yesterday. She was looking at a large title (nearly 900 pages) that we have in a test account and she pointed out that it was very easy to read different chapters once she had decided to keep the Table of Contents in one tab, and opened the specific chapters she was studying in separate tabs.

I am a very messy user of tabs and windows (my colleagues shrug their shoulders when they see that I am running three browsers on my system with multiple tabs and windows in each). I am not a tidy reader. But this matter of reading the same book in a multiplicity of tabs is something to think about.

It is often assumed that the instant availability of masses of information, billions of web pages, which are all only two or three clicks away, is impoverishing our reading experience. But as we learn to read books using search, Google web search, library search, single volume search, linkage in all its forms, all available navigation, and with multiple windows open on the text at different places, and in different texts, it may be that our reading experience is actually getting to be in some senses deeper, more total, and more analytic than the simplistic model of continuous reading with which we are often confronted.

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