So there was a time, not too long ago, that I couldn’t stand reading .pdfs on a monitor. It didn’t matter if it was on a desktop or a laptop; I hated reading electronic files. I bought my wife a Kindle about a year ago, it did nothing for me since I don’t get into personal gadgetry. Lest you think me a Luddite, I am a fan of technology – I love electronic music, I routinely oscillate between Daft Punk and Bjork for my robot music fix; I love the internet; I love the hopes of AI, NBIC, and have my own space odyssey from time to time. And I have an archive of obsolete technology, less from nostalgia than from a fascination with how “artifactual” (yes, I made that word up) things die. My point is this, I consider myself to be pretty open to technology, but I have one tiny little problem:
I have a little too thick of a digital immigrant accent.
My wife was complaining about how much paper I had around the house because I was always printing articles that I had to read…and, well, if they are good articles I felt compelled to save them…(hint, my accent: I STILL print!) Ugh.
Something happened though…
- One of the courses in my MA program had a 871 page “Introduction” text-book.
- I got sick of carrying it on the train.
- I bought an iPad 2 weeks into the semester and got the e-book version.
INSTANTLY my ability to comprehend electronic text increased by a factor of probably 800,000 or so.
Do you have any idea why?
I was able to INSTANTLY increase my text comprehension in electronic documents because of ideas in theoretical frameworks like EMBODIED COGNITION and ENACTIVISM. Heard of them?
Essentially, for me, a life-long reader of books in a particular orientation to my ocular path, namely flat on a table or holding it on my lap with the spine of the book resting perpendicular to the spine of my back. I was so used to reading “important” text in a particular orientation that when I had to read electronic text which was in front of my face (LCD & laptop screens) I was not retaining the information with the same level of quality. Hence, my electronic reading skills were relatively poor despite the fact that most books that I read are denser and more complex than what most people conceive of when they think of abstract math.
Buying an iPad changed everything.
Now, I know I am going to get a bunch of SPAM comments because of this post, and I will probably also get some flak for my endorsement of the iPad…I am not making any claims about whether or not it is useful for anything else…(actually, I do have 3 complaints: printing is near impossible, the version of Pages is a light version that doesn’t retain formating when synced with the desktop, & the file tree is your iTunes file structure on your desktop)…I don’t really care about this stuff; over time it will improve.
All I care about is that I am able to read electronic text with complete fluency and have increased my reading speed in the process.
I even do my remote work through the iPad, it is completely flexible for some of the stuff I have to do and I have increased my productivity by a margin of 28-33% depending on the wi-fi strength.
If I had to do it over again I would certainly buy it again.