I guess I’ve never given digital texts much thought in the past. Unlike some, I’m not overly attached to the book form and “the smell of the pages,” etc., although I am slightly obsessive-compulsive about taking care of the books I own. I have and use a Kindle, and I know from experience that I love my Kindle when I’m reading books for personal enjoyment but find it to be less useful in terms of course texts and literary analysis (for, I think, some obvious reasons, especially the issue of page numbers). However this weeks’ readings, most specifically Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s Planned Obsolescence, caused me to actually think about how I feel about digital texts and digital publishing, not only because this is the topic of the book, but also because of the format I was reading it in (via Media Commons Press). And I was a little surprised, upon reflection, to find out how conservative I really am in regards to digital texts and publishing.
Regarding the format of Planned Obsolescence, I was at first really impressed and excited by the setup of Media Commons Press. I found it easy to navigate and I really enjoyed being able to read people’s comments and Fitzpatrick’s responses to them as I was reading the text. The comments, especially, were both useful and fascinating; it was interesting to be able to read people’s responses to parts of the argument, enlightening to learn Fitzpatrick’s intended revisions, and therefore helpful to see her work-in-progress. But as I continued reading, I started having more issues with reading a digital text. I became oddly frustrated with the constant need to scroll down the page, as well as with the inconsistent lengths of the pages. I also had a lot of issues with eye-strain, because unlike with my Kindle, I find it uncomfortable to read anything of length on a computer screen. I also became frustrated with my inability to make personal annotations so that I could refer back to the parts of the text that I found particularly significant. I actually started wishing I had a book copy of the text, so that by the end of the book, I could not quite agree with Fitzpatrick’s assertion that digital publishing is a solution to the academic publishing crisis, because I would not want to read these digital publications.
Furthermore, I realized, especially in the discussion of NINES, that I really don’t take advantage of the digital resources available to me. I make use of Google Books to access texts that are otherwise unavailable, but would much prefer even waiting for an ILL loan request to go through than make use of a digital text. On the other hand, I love accessing articles digitally through online databases (although I do tend to then print the articles). I think part of my reluctance stems from my uncertainty concerning how to appropriately make use of such resources. This became especially true as I struggled to understand what Fitzpatrick was discussing in terms of “remixing” and “digital curation”–I am apparently not tech-savvy.
However, all that being said, I can appreciate the solution she is offering to the academic publishing crisis. And in light of my realization of my conservative views concerning digital resources, I’m going to try to expand my digital horizons in the future.