Day One – Prompt #1: Digital Editions

In reading a digital edition, it felt superficial in the way that it seemed more artificial and less personal or emotional-driven with its conversion into data and statistical representation on the website. In the past, I rarely read online before (only when necessary) as I preferred reading printed copies for a hands-on approach. Personally, the usage of technology can be beneficial in certain situations but ultimately, I found myself side-tracked by the internet to be effective in my search for information. I feel it better to be in a library or a bookstore that limits the flow of internet to have a clear perspective.

What is similar between the book and those online is the system of classification firsthand, how it is divided up by chapters or how it has a table of frames and contents to access certain parts of the story. What’s different between the two mediums is simply the navigation implored in reading that is not only physical but mental as different venues are employed for mental mapping and structure of the story.

Some advantages of digitization of text may be the diversity of information that can be classified in a way that benefits a researcher. For example, in this particular website, it includes the cast of the characters such as the Creature, Dr. Frankenstein, Henry Clerval, Elizabeth, and other influential characters that hold significance to the story; http://knarf.english.upenn.edu/. Furthermore, it provides more in-depth analysis that proves insightful such as illustrations on ‘medical electricity’ (crucial to understanding the devices used in the experiments) or geographical maps of areas such as Arctic Oceans (crucial to understanding the voyage made by certain characters).

At the same time, however, one of the disadvantages of this digitization of text seems that it is too ambiguous with information. It’s hard to recollect all of it and determine with complete accuracy to be an effective source as the information is cluttered in a mass among each website. For example, in the previous website, there are various different links that branch out that may or may not hold useful information. For example, it seems unnecessary to bring about information regarding the chronology of 18th and 19th centuries.

In that regard, an advantage that printed text possess is the ability to be straight-forward with the material, a beginning, middle, and the ending that flows in one direction. With a digital edition, you can often lose your positioning and continuously navigate through the website in search for a specific piece of information. Having said that, however, the dangers of printed text can be that its limitations of information are confined to that specific edition, holding only what is deemed relevant to the story. Digital texts can thus access other sources of information, old and new, and include them into its own source. As a result, digital texts can provide a constant, indirect flow of information that printed text cannot but printed text can provide a direct structure that is constant (494).

5 thoughts on “Day One – Prompt #1: Digital Editions

  1. Interesting post! I completely agree with your final paragraph stating that in certain digital editions it is easy to lose one’s place as the reader is pulled into a new webpage and away from the original content. However, my rebuttal to that argument is twofold. First, if the digital edition worked in “pop-up” annotations, that did not take the reader to a new page but held the information over the content so the reader could look at both simultaneously, the issue of losing one’s place would be solved. Second, in a physical edition, notes are often at the end of the novel, which while a pretty weak argument, also causes people to lose their place in the novel and their focus.

  2. During the end of your first paragraph, you state that “I feel it better to be in a library or a bookstore that limits the flow of internet to have a clear perspective”. I agree with you in that sense that having a control on internet use will make it beneficial to anyone that is using a digital edition of a book as their main source of text. Because of this control, the reader will benefit from actually being able to focus on the material and not get side tracked easily. Moreover, you do not necessarily have to be in a library, just as long as you are anywhere with a place of control, such as a classroom, it would be important to focus on the lecture than to get sidetracked so using a digital edition will help you navigate along with the lecture by using keywords to find sections easily, and also in a classroom there is limited internet use so that makes it very benefiticial to use a digital text since you won’t be on the digital text as much, only when searching for a certain paragraph for class discussions. But other than that you will be busy with the discussion and less focused on the digital book, so that is a good sense of control. I am just saying that having a sense of control is important if you want to benefit from reading a digital edition of a text, but if for instance you were home and reading from a digital edition, I am a very sure distraction will be expected since there is no control over internet use.

  3. Vincent, I really like your point about the “flow of information” in terms of a printed text versus a digital edition. To be honest, I hadn’t thought of the natural progression of a novel in that way before. The “clutter” of digital editions is something that I struggle with — there is almost too many options and/or links to follow, and I end up feeling like Alice down the proverbial rabbit hole. When you are on a deadline for an assignment or simply short on time, it is hard (at least for me as a reader) to stay focused on the text. The allure of clicking a link to learn something supplemental about the text is often too great of a temptation to ignore. However, I was reading a novella by Henry James this summer (“Daisy Miller”), and was having trouble engaging with the story. Some of the supplemental links in the story enabled me to see photos and illustrations of the story’s setting. Once I could see images of the Swiss Alps and the lavish hotel where the novel opens, I was better able to engage with the text. It really is a fine balance to achieve, isn’t it?

  4. I disagree as digital text also bears that straight-forward element when it allows readers to click to the chapter they left off on. In addition to that, with how e-readers have progressed, we can even bookmark and take notes that we can later review. It bears benefit against the printed copy in that when we write in our books, we have to rely on memory (even when it is shoddy) to recall tiny but useful details. I find that diversity of information is certainly advantageous for the reader in developing receptive skills.

  5. Vincent, I really like your point about the “flow of information” in terms of a printed text versus a digital edition. To be honest, I hadn’t thought of the natural progression of a novel in that way before. The “clutter” of digital editions is something that I struggle with — there is almost too many options and/or links to follow, and I end up feeling like Alice down the proverbial rabbit hole. When you are on a deadline for an assignment or simply short on time, it is hard (at least for me as a reader) to stay focused on the text. The allure of clicking a link to learn something supplemental about the text is often too great of a temptation to ignore. However, I was reading a novella by Henry James this summer (“Daisy Miller”), and was having trouble engaging with the story. Some of the supplemental links in the story enabled me to see photos and illustrations of the story’s setting. Once I could see images of the Swiss Alps and the lavish hotel where the novel opens, I was better able to engage with the text. It really is a fine balance to achieve, isn’t it?

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