The Future of Print and Cyberculture
As our class learned from the last assignment in which we created a writing technology, the introduction of new technology can change the way that people operate on a day-to-day basis. Inventions like the automobile and the television, for example, have forever changed the culture in many countries. However, no invention has changed the world more than the computer. In fact it has been the computer that has made the most recent technological phenomenon, the Internet, possible. While the Internet has made obvious changes in the way people communicate, it has also changed how we perform other functions that are as fundamental to us as reading and writing.
One of the issues the Internet and similar technologies have forced upon us is the switch from reading from textbooks to reading what is referred to as "hypertext" on the computer screen. Because the Internet has turned into such an extensive source of information, many people find themselves reading from the screen what they normally would have read from plain text in the past. Although this is a process that a lot of people are uncomfortable with, James Sosnoski, author of the essay Hyper-readers and their Reading Engines, believes that reading from computer screens will soon become commonplace. "Though I readily acknowledge that many persons do not like to read from their screens at this time, I assume that over a period of time, the practice will become so habitual that it will seem 'natural' - just as it now seems customary to use a computer rather than a typewriter," he said (404). Reading hypertext is different from the reading that we are accustomed to for a variety of reasons, one of which being that people tend to be more selective when reading from their screen. Sosnoski developed a list of characteristics that he feels define the reading of hypertext (also known as hyper-reading):
Filtering: A higher degree of selectivity in reading.
Skimming: Less text actually read.
Pecking: A less linear sequencing of passages read.
Imposing: Less contexualization derived from the text and more from readerly intention.
Filming: The "…but I saw the film" response which implies that significant meaning is derived more from graphical elements as from verbal elements of text
Trespassing: Loosening of textual boundaries.
De-authorizing: Lessening sense of authorship and authorly intention.
Fragmenting: Breaking texts into notes rather than regarding them as essays, articles, or books. (404)
Although the characteristics listed above may not represent how reading has been conventionally defined by our society, Sosnoski believes that our transition to "hyper-readers" make them necessary. "I subscribe to the notion that we live in a postmodern era and that we cannot operate on the conventions that governed the reading practices of previous generations," (403).
Even though some people may always prefer to read from conventional...