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Interactive or Interruptive?

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With the advent (and growing popularity) of eBooks, I’m seeing more and more articles about how much “better” they can be, because they have the option to be interactive…videos, music, glossaries … all sorts of little extra goodies to help “enhance” your reading experience, rather like listening to the Director’s commentary on a DVD of your favorite movie.

How do you feel about that possibility? Does it excite you in a cutting-edge kind of way? Or does it chill you to the bone because that’s not what reading is ABOUT?

Once a dinosaur, always a dinosaur. Readers are slowly becoming social outcasts in the sense that popular culture is assimilating to electronic media. The real readers will always be reading, either on paper or on an electronic reader. I love my iPad for its sheer convenience and portability but I don’t swear by it. Given all the interactive features, I use it only for reading on the run. I don’t care for multimedia to begin with, so the video games, movies, and the gazillion apps don’t appeal to me. I like how a book is formatted in a way that can be read just like a real book. I don’t have to scroll down the screen but instead the page is turned upon clicking the button on the screen. The interactive features, in my opinion, distract the whole reading experience. I have seen people with good intention to read on their iPad only to be lured away by Facebook. The reading experience should be focusing on the words and the language, untainted by any form of distraction, visual or audio. E-reader has become a trend, much like MP3 files replacing CDs and CDs phasing out the cassette tapes. As long as there are serious readers of the written words, literature will live on.

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4 Responses

  1. I taught reading for many years and I remember when I first realized that some of my students did not visualize what they were reading — my own head is filled with such images and I couldn’t imagine how you could read without doing this.
    These children were often frustrated by books without pictures. I had felt a bit insulted — perhaps stifled — by picture books by the time I was 8 or 9. I wanted to interact with the book on my own terms..

    I never cared much about music videos for much the same reason — I wanted the music interacting with my brain, my memories, my experience, not someone else’s. Let my imagination do its own thing, please.

    I think that turning a page in a book is one of the great sensual experiences — I don’t want it done for me. So I haven’t entered the world of ebooks. But I’m old and kind of set in my ways. Still, I wonder about children growing up with these interactive aids — what will “reading” mean to them?

  2. When I was studying journalism I did a subject on interactive media and one of the benefits (in their opinion) was that if you were reading an article about, say, live export online they could hyperlink things so you could gather a more complete understanding on the subject without having to write the actual history into your piece. The only problem with that is that people will often click on the link, click another link, click another, and another and so on, and might not get back to the original article for several hours, if at all. It’s a different reading experience and I could see it being handy for my uni studies, but if I’m reading a book online or on an e-reader (which I don’t have yet) I’m going to want it to be free of those bells and whistles so it doesn’t alter my reading experience.

  3. I do not want my book to be interactive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I admit I am old and set in my ways. But from the get-go I loved the computer and let it in my life. But ya know what? I still like a telephone to be just that..a telephone. And I like books to be books. Ebooks are ok if they remain just books. if you give a person too many “choices” they either follow all the paths and forget what was original or they have to pay for all those “perks” that they never use!

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