Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

paginating, embedding

Two cool posts from if:book: first, a defense of the value of pagination, even in digital texts:

It's important to realise what you're doing when you're scrolling. You're gazing at the line you were reading as you draw it up the screen, to near the top. When it gets to the top, you can continue reading. You do this very quickly, so it doesn't really register as hard work. Except that it changes your behaviour -- because a misfire sucks. A misfire occurs when you scroll too far too rapidly, and the line you were reading disappears off the top of the screen. In this case, you have to scroll in the other direction and try to recognise your line -- but how well do you remember it? Not necessarily by sight, so immediately you have to start reading again, just to find where you were. . . .

Beyond this, even if you have startling accuracy, still you are doing a lot of work, because your eyes must track your current line as it animates across the screen. For sustained reading, this quickly gets physically tiring.

Pagination works for long text, not because it has a real-world analogy to printed books or whatever, but because it maximises your interface: you read the entire screenful of text, then with a single command, you request an entirely new screenful of text. There's very little wastage of attention or effort. You can safely blink as you turn.

A strong argument.

Second, I didn't realize that the Internet Archive has created a cool tool for embedding whole books in webpages. I’m still trying to decide how useful this is, and what its uses might be, but anyway, it is cool.

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