Tuesday, 6 December 2016

follow up to our class on the future of the page

Lots of items to include in this week's follow-up post, in addition to the lecture slides now posted in the usual place on BB. To begin with, I've added links to two recommended readings, one being a chapter from Andrew Piper's book Book Was There, and the other being Peter Stoicheff and Andrew Taylor's introduction to their collection The Future of the Page.


The second of these readings contains some useful references to the concept of ordinatio in medieval books, which we discussed in class. If you are interested in learning more about this concept and the world of medieval scribes as some of the world's earliest information designers, I recommend two projects by Erik Kwakkel: his blog, and a richly illustrated introduction to medieval manuscripts called Quill: Books Before Print. I'm part of a project that's similar to this but broader in scope, called Architectures of the Book. Some of Monday's lecture was drawn from an entry I wrote for ArchBook on the subject of the opening.

Closer to the present, we also looked briefly at the field of typography and the concept of bibliographic codes as read through Dave Addey's excellent blog post on the typography of the film Alien. Although he's writing about films, not books, his mode of analysis and attention to detail are good models for the study of all kind of media, including books (digital and otherwise). I also recommend this post as a great example of the genre of the blog post, especially one that blends form and content to great effect.

We also spent some time at the end of class with the Spritz speed-reading interface. As a class we did pretty well keeping up with the flashing words, even at 700 wpm, but feel free to try it out on your own screen, which is closer to the interface's natural habitat. The Spritz website is also worth exploring, especially the section titled "The Science," which is where the image below comes from. (Just remember that science without citations is usually just advertising...)

 The Spritz interface generated some interesting discussion about reading last year, when it first started making news. I recommend checking out Lifehacker's post on "The truth about speed reading," and Charlie Jane Anders's excellent io9 post on the question "Does anyone read books the right way any more?".

And if all this speed reading has you wanting to slow things down to a livable pace, I recommend spending some time in the Inforum's new mindfulness corner. There you'll find copies of David Levy's book Mindful Tech, which includes a discussion of calligraphic writing as a meditative exercise -- which closes the circle that began with medieval pages. 

Happy reading and writing (fast, slow, or otherwise)!