Week 9

I really like what Lisa Gitelman says about how the corporate roots of PDFs influence their functionality and reception. She says that they create hierarchical labour structures, where recipients of PDFs are encouraged to read without writing. I think that’s definitely true. Technically, it’s not difficult to highlight and annotate a PDF, but it doesn’t feel natural to do so.

A couple weeks ago, we were talking about how it’s easier to focus on a PDF than a website, even if the content is identical. Combining the two articles for this week, I think this is probably related to how PDF documents aren’t fragmentary. They do feel very static, and they’re really unlikely to have distracting hyperlinks. They also open in a separate program, so they don’t feel connected to the internet. For the sake of reading academic documents, these are probably good things.

How does everyone like to take their notes? What file format do you prefer to read academic work in? What about other things, like books or comics? Personally, I prefer epub for books because the text and page style are malleable.

The point Lisa Gitelman makes about our physical hands disappearing from our consciousness when we use computers is also really interesting. I think that this might be changing as touchable screens become more popular, and it probably varies a lot depending on what OS you use. Apple computers place a lot of emphasis on gestures, and both their mice and touchpads give a fair amount of physical features β€” they seem to want you to be aware of your hands as part of the machine.


2 thoughts on “Week 9

  1. Annotating PDFs is really pain. I’ve experimented with a number of apps for it and still find it really awkward. I once forced myself to annotated an entire PhD thesis on my ipad,–I think with iAnnotate– but it still felt really unnatural by the end.


  2. I find with PDF I still need to print the document in order to really focus on it (especially scholarly articles). If I’m reading a PDF digitally, I become more distracted than with a text that is fragmented with hyperlinks because it’s less appealing. Basically, I get bored, especially knowing I’m still connected to the Internet. That’s just been my personal experience with PDF. As for reading digitally, I’ve read several books on iBooks, which I was quite skeptical about initially. I still prefer the physical hard copy, but iBooks offered a lot of functions that made maneuvering through the text quite simple (such as searching for specific quotes, annotating, and changing the colour of the background to be easier on the eyes).


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