Reading Experiences

I decided to do a small experiment for this reading – I first read everything on the web version, and then after some time passed, did my re-reading with the pdf. This is a bit of a divergence from my usual linking out, but I want to note some of the significant differences:

First, understandability. By breaking up the quotes and chunks of prose, I was able to more easily take away points from the web-based writing. In fact, this forced me to read the quotes a lot more thoroughly because they stood out more (for context, I’m often in the bad habit of skimming over side quotes in a reading). For the written portion of the text, the web-based platform won out. Of course, the videos present necessitated web access – the discussion of those examples rely on the web platform. I was surprised, though, by the handling of the image examples. I found having the pdf was far handier because the pictures were easily visible while I was reading about them. This was one instance where needing to click between pages was frustrating.

Second, I want to address the nature sounds and bird chirping. I personally had the experience that this background noise helped me focus, except when the track restarted – the bird chirps had a very distinct break when the sound looped. This distracted from the reading, and I feel that it undid the focus that the noise was supposed produce.

Finally, I wanted to talk about the experience of navigating prose through clicking mouse buttons. There is a sense of agency gained – I actually noticed that I felt I had more control over the reading, and in a way more ownership of it. A problem I noticed, though, is that where you click to get information was inconsistent. Sometimes, there were arrows. Others, I searched for an answer only to realize I needed to click the gray boxes at the top of the page. This was jarring to my reading – not that I had to click something, but that I had to exert mental energy to find where I should click. The pdf, of course, does not suffer from this problem.

Results:

I would say that overall the experience of the interactive web article was better for me for retention purposes, as well as overall experience. I question, though, some of the problems I mentioned. I wonder if the site could have been more clearly laid out. This points to a bigger issue for me, and nods to the questions from my last post – how do we determine what a “good” product of New Media is? I was able to pinpoint hang-ups that I had, but I can’t speak to everyone’s experience. I didn’t even mention the background image and shifting that occurs from the homepage, but maybe there is more to say about it. Reading this text in both ways has me questioning what I would do if I assigned website creation in my class – would this be a shining example, or a mediocre one? I’m still struggling with that aspect of New Media for classroom usage.

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One comment on “Reading Experiences

  1. To start, I had many of the same problems with the flash version of the article, especially with trying the blasted soundbites, which drove me nuts being on such a tight loop. I think the errors in design are why web designers are paid so much money to create as intuitive experience as possible. I think website creation might be a bit overwhelming for many students unless a simple template is used for creation, but that could cost a lot of money. I tried my hand at generating one recently and it was a nightmare of truly epic proportions.
    I think a “good” product of new media is something that is intuitive to use and does not create great distractions for the person consuming the media. It has to be accessible or you risk irreparably damaging the points and writing that you are trying to get to the reader. Frustrating the consumer of the media only serves to undermine the media. I felt this way while navigating certain parts of it becoming distracted by the terrible button placements and how the progression buttons switched out. My question would be how to teach that intuitiveness and if that is a worthwhile task in the classroom or if it would be too complicated.

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