Is That All There Is?

Newspaper cat realization #30,566:

Words on a page. How can I play with those?

I mean, come on. Isn’t this so much more fun:

There are a lot of iPad apps for cats out there, y’all!

This is going to have to be a short post this week because I’ve got a jillion things to do to get ready to leave for a conference tomorrow, so I’ll just get to the point. The big idea that this week’s chapter (4: “The Appeal of Words Onscreen”) from Naomi Baron’s Words Onscreen raised for me was the implication that a key appeal of digital texts is interactivity.While Baron’s research points toward the unsurprising conclusion that different media are better for different kinds of reading situations and needs, readers prefer digital when they need or want interaction with a text (e.g., searching capabilities, ability to choose particular actions).

Since multiple media co-exist in networks of remediation, print and digital media will continue to be part of our reading lives for the foreseeable future. What we have to do as readers and, most importantly for this class on Writing for the Web, as writers, is to learn how make intentional and intelligent choices when we design digital texts. Choices that consider how people read, how media affects how people read, how media affordances suggest opportunities for engagement even for onscreen reading. I suggest that we will have to think especially hard about creating interaction possibilities for readers in digital texts. According to Janet Murray, an affordance of digital media is its procedural capability, the computer’s ability to execute conditional behaviors. Combine that with opportunities for participation on the part of readers and you’ve got interaction. And that is extremely appealing. Just ask the kitties!

Insert one more gratuitous cat video here:

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