6 Comments

  • Chris Joseph says:

    Yes… or trying to recreate that musty old book smell…

    The really interesting thing is the strong relationship between smell and memory. It would be fascinating to compare passages of the same book read digitally and in print to see if there were any differences in recall.

    There are also things being developed in the tactile area, but I came across them in my pre-delicious days, so can’t find them at all now ;)

  • Jess says:

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for your comment over at the Frontline Books blog. Thanks too for sharing the olfactory developments…wonder what it really *feels* like to listen to some chilled out music and have daffodils, lillies, or candy floss embrace your nose? A real life instantiation of mellifluous (in Italian = sweet sounding).

  • Jess says:

    I think that’s a really interesting project on which we should get to work (can’t end sentence on a preposition!!) :)

    Although, i do think there are numerous variables involved in both kinds of reading…like if the person favours the left brain or right brain, is a more “logical” thinker or creative etc…a straight comparison might be a bit like David S. Miall and Teresa Dobson’s “Reading Hypertext and the Experience of Literature where they take a print poem and simply transfer it into “hypertext” by adding links. As far as I know Elizabeth Bowen’s “The Demon Lover” was not originally created to be read hypertextually so I’m not quite sure how Miall and Dobson could qualify their addition of links and conclude “hypertext appears to promote processes of attention that inhibit the engagement and absorption that are [literary texts’] most characteristic aspects.” Anyway…maybe this is where transliteracy comes in (again!); transliterate people might remember more without the addition of smells (good or bad ones!). There’s an interesting article on the haptics of reading here.

  • Chris Joseph says:

    >> “hypertext appears to promote processes of attention that inhibit the engagement and absorption that are [literary texts’] most characteristic aspects.”

    intuitively i would agree with this… the tendency for digital texts to be skimmed, and/or read while activities are continued in other open windows or tabs… N Katherine Hayles’ concept of “hyper-attention” again?

  • Jess says:

    hrm…I’m not sure if I do agree with that quote. I don’t know if all hypertexts do promote processes of attention that inhibit that kind of literary engagement. I think there are web fictions *out there* that do set the scene for a literary encounter. I’m thinking especially of Claire Dinsmore’s High Crimson which I find really beautiful and certainly draws the reader in. When reading this piece I found myself less aware of the technology – the clicking, the whirrs of the computer – and instead appreciating the narrative. I think this enjoyment was in part because of the technology and the way certain aspects of interacting with the story made it more realistic or easier to “suspend my disbelief” (either of the intrusion of the technology or of the narrative itself). There’s a bit where the reader has to click to allow a conversation between Jean and Beatrice evolve and that clicking which to some might inhibit the reading experience, instead made me feel more a part of it.

  • Chris Joseph says:

    I wouldn’t disagree that there are works out there that attempt to set the scene, and engage on a deeper level… but I do wonder how successful they ultimately are, or whether the vast majority of readers don’t actually bother, and either skim read/click or simply pretend that they have read it (as many do with heavy-going print books!)

    However the High Crimson moment is well done. It certainly can work. So here’s another question: is that type of literary engagement actually necessary or preferable?