Where do you stand? Why?

According to Keirsey, Oprah Winfrey may be a T...

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The debate continues: will ereading replace reading paper documents?  At a popular level, there seems to be a fairly strong move in favour of ordinary, print books – in particular.  Other types of documents may not be subject to scrutiny using the same criteria.  Oprah Winfrey, a public figure who has strongly encouraged reading through her immense influence, appears to be rather sceptical of ereading:  see, for example, http://www.oprah.com/health/How-Reading-Can-Improve-Your-Memory

Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes are similarly not very impressed by ereading, in spite of new and different capabilities of digital media (see, for example, ‘Inanimate Alice‘ which was referred to in a previous post on transliteracies).  At least the librarian gets some positive PR here, for a change:  http://www.unshelved.com/2011-3-4

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Japanese people today.  Thank goodness the Internet is helping families find each other, as well as making us aware of what is going on and what is required (http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/people-turn-to-the- and #prayforjapan and http://www.mendeley.com/groups/951191/earthquake-and-tsunami/)

All the best


About Susan
Retired academic, website creator, SEO advisor, grandmother. I love the sea, dogs and walks; I hate fluorescent lights and TV sport.

2 Responses to Where do you stand? Why?

  1. Dear Claudia
    Thanks for your question – it’s a good one.
    To explain my point of view on this, I must refer again to my definition of information: it is that part of knowledge that an individual chooses to share with others, which is represented (or coded) in a language (art, music, song, spoken or written language, mathematics, body language, etc.). It is the work of the knowledge/information creator to ‘represent’ or code the work as well as s/he can, using a symbolic, abstract code which has culturally endowed meaning. In other words, the ‘codes’ or ‘representations’ used should have meanings that are shared by particular groups, and these meanings should match, as closely as possible, the ideas or concepts (aka ‘information’) that the creator wishes to share with others.

    It is the work of the audience – those who are in a position to receive this coded information or message – to determine the meaning, or decipher the code. This will depend to a great extent on their knowledge of the symbolic code or ‘language’ used. As ek nou in Afrikaans begin skryf, and jy ken nie daardie taal, sal jy nie verstaan nie (If I now start to write (or speak) in Afrikaans, and you do not know that language, you will not understand). This is, possibly, the ‘worst case’ scenario: where communication has, to all intents and purposes, not taken place, as the recipient can make no meaning of the coded information, or message.

    There is obviously a continuum, from total lack of understanding or making sense, to absolute and complete understanding, along which we can range the results of the ‘reading’ or ‘interpretation’ process. Firstly, as mentioned, there should be some widely accepted (within particular communities or cultural groups) mutually agreed upon meanings for these symbols, be they movements, colours, alphabets or sounds. An individual’s grasp of these – as both creator and ‘reader’ – will vary, and if there is too great a difference between these, communication will be difficult or impossible.

    To answer your question, then, I believe that ‘reading’ starts as we exist within our environments and receive signals through our senses. So, looking at a cloudy sky is a simple act: ‘reading’ it suggests that we create further meaning, perhaps recognising that it is likely to rain or snow, or perhaps that the weather is clearing. It is this ‘creation of meaning’, or ‘interpretation’ that takes us beyond mere observance (or perhaps sounding out strange words on a page without knowing what they stand for or represent) into the realm of understanding and learning. Reading without thought – without understanding the ideas the creator of those ideas presents to you, and perhaps relating them to what you already know or prompting you to discover more so that you do understand these new ideas – is a waste of time, and is perhaps not ‘reading’ after all.
    On the other hand, everybody is different and so everybody will create a different understanding of the coded information, or ‘message’. For example, the more you know about the history of art or the work of a particular composer, the more you will understand, and the more meaning you will make, when you look at a particular picture or listen to a particular piece of music.
    When children first go to school, the first thing they learn is how to interpret and translate our cultural symbols – they learn how to read and write. Sadly, they are often not taught how to interpret the many other codes with which each culture deals on a daily basis – this is often left to take place through a process of cultural osmosis. The derivation of symbolic value is also not commonly explained, since history now seems to be an unpopular subject to be taught at school.
    Looking at images, listening to music, watching ballet: all of these are ‘reading’, in my view.

  2. Claudia Koltzenburg says:

    thank you for this topic,

    in your view, where does “reading” start? is looking at images “reading”, too? is looking around you?

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