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Are Physical Interfaces Superior to Virtual Ones?

Something's been bothering me ever since I started reading books, especially non-fiction, on my Kindle:

I can't remember where anything is. Physical books are full of spatial reference points; an especially beloved book is a physical topography in which we develop a vague sense of which chapters contain relevant information; even where, on a page, a particularly striking sentence or diagram lies.

Ebooks have none of these referents. They're searchable (or at least, some are) which mitigates this issue somewhat. But I'm unlikely to remember that a fact was at "41% through a book" for one simple reason: my hands never got a chance to find out what 41% through a particular ebook feels like.
The entire article is very interesting, but these paragraphs in particular caught my eye - finally, an articulation of one of the main reasons I find myself dissatisfied when reading in any kind of digital format.

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
ransomedsea
Mar. 5th, 2011 03:26 pm (UTC)
This has been precisely my problem. That and not being able to flip back/forward easily. It really bothers me to not be able to go back and reference or flip ahead to see where a chapter ends when I'm getting sleepy and want to find a good stopping point.
eattheolives
Mar. 5th, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
Exactly! And no phyiscal way to mark/make notes. I stick those reusable post-it tabs in where I want to go back and check a fact, or copy down a quote, or write down a book title mentioned, and then you can see at a glance where you wanted to go back to and ...

ugh. e-books.
thinkinthots
Mar. 5th, 2011 04:40 pm (UTC)
I read the Bible off my phone, so that is the extent of my experience. But I can quickly memorize things from my own Bible because it's like my brain photographs the page and the layout with a few readings over a passage and I can close my eyes and see the page. Digital reading doesn't give me that. :(
(Deleted comment)
belovedwarrior
Mar. 6th, 2011 05:12 pm (UTC)
Reading on the computer is a completely different experience than using an ereader! I dislike reading articles online as well; I have trouble with it. I can, however, read several hundred page books on my nook with ease.
mattiescottage
Mar. 5th, 2011 11:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, I agree. I have a similar problem with PowerPoint presentations, by the way. And audio books and old-fashioned speeches and sermons. But I'd hate to do without all of these.

When they come to me and there is no alternative paper book format, I just work with that. I love my eBook-reading because it brings me books (and allows me to listed to them) when paper-format books are not a workable option.

eattheolives
Mar. 6th, 2011 10:47 pm (UTC)
There are quite a few audio books I've listened to because that was the only way format I could get them in - but I've found that I really retain less, so I try to stick to rereads or light fiction in audio.
trozzort
Mar. 6th, 2011 03:47 am (UTC)
I don't think I'll ever join the e-readers either. Although I love LJ, Facebook, Twitter, etc online, I just prefer the "old fashioned" hand held books. You can take them practically anywhere. I think with an e-reader, I'd be less likely to take it places that I could with a real book because I'd be afraid of ruining such an expensive item. Most books are easily replaceable, less likely to get stolen and (I believe) will last longer than e-readers (definitely the batteries at least, lol).
eattheolives
Mar. 6th, 2011 10:44 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, I'm like that too - I think I'd be afraid of hauling an e-reader around too much in case it got stolen or damaged.

Books can easily last hundreds of years and I've yet to see a piece of electronic equipment make it that far, but I don't suppose that's a valid comparison. :)
everydayjoy
Mar. 6th, 2011 08:52 am (UTC)
LIKE.
belovedwarrior
Mar. 6th, 2011 05:09 pm (UTC)
I was not sure how i felt about ebooks, because part of me wanted to savor the physicalness of holding and smelling a book.. I went back and forth about wanting one and finally said that if my husband were to buy me a nook, i would not complain. He did and i LOVE it. I don't have a problem remembering where anything is. I know how far I am in a book because the progress bar on the bottom shows me and that's enough for me.

I understand eredaers aren't for everyone, but i worry that those against them carry over their negativity to the users as if saying a true bibliophile would never downgrade to such a format. :(.

My nook is my favorite non sentimental possession. It's so convenient, especially as a breastfeeding mother. I can easily hold it in one hand, which is all i have free these days.. And have all the books i want in one location. It's much easier to ask daniel to grab my nook for me than describe what book and where it is. Also. I tend to jump around in different books, depending on my mood. Sometimes I need to read light and fluffy because I'm too tired to concentrate and other times i want to read to learn. It's nice having that allinone, so the brief moments of downtime i have, I can whip one device out and read.

While i love going to the library.. And still do on a weekly occasion, it's MUCH easier to log online and download a book from them instead of lugging my baby there when he probably should be sleeping.

Because of the convenience, I have already read more books sinceChristmas than i have last year combined.. A guess, but a logical one. Also i LOVE that it keeps track of exactly where i left off. Of course, a bookmark should do the same thing but i am constantly short of them when i need one and they tend to fall out. ;)

Not trying to convince you to use an ereader, just trying to explain they (and their users) are not evil incarnate like I've heard some claim.
eattheolives
Mar. 6th, 2011 10:41 pm (UTC)
Certainly not; I'm happy for people to read in whatever manner suits them best! I was simply gratified to find that someone had put into words why I personally do not enjoy the experience. I'm very, very tactile, as well as visual, and having that sense of physical space, the texture of paper, the varying type, even the sometimes rather alarming stains left by previous readers (!) is really important to the way I process and remember information.

I also have to be careful with audio books - I enjoy listening to them in the car or while working on projects, but I just don't retain the material like I will with a paper book. So I generally stick to rereads or chick lit when I go the audio route.
belovedwarrior
Mar. 6th, 2011 10:50 pm (UTC)
Ah, I see. I am a kinesthetic learner, so audiobooks suit me well. I remember audiobooks far more than when I read them on my own because when I listen, I am DOING something, and just the mere act of doing something puts my memory into overdrive. I first discovered this in highschool when I would put together puzzles while listening to audiobooks. The next time I worked on the puzzle, I could recall, almost word for word, what I had just heard.

I am not a spacial person at all. In fact that's my biggest weakness. Perhaps this is why ebooks do not bother me at all. I am absolutely horrid at remembering where things are. I *am* tactile but I like the feel of my nook and love clicking to the next page. :)

Also, Grayson says: ,MKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK.;Aqxlz,/; ;/,,gnnj,m ,bj
eattheolives
Mar. 6th, 2011 11:01 pm (UTC)
Grayson: yllasw..,eaSs;;//nngj,rr,,,,ccvplee''!

(betcha didn't know that speaking Baby was among my talents. :))

I LOVE when people can figure out their learning styles and use that to make learning easier and more enjoyable. Homeschooling worked out really well for my family largely because my mom was really good at teaching each child in his own language, so to speak. My two brothers and I have radically different learning styles, and we were each able to use that to help us instead of having it work against us.
belovedwarrior
Mar. 6th, 2011 10:13 pm (UTC)
Also. Just added 72 Pratchett books to my nook today. :)
eattheolives
Mar. 6th, 2011 10:49 pm (UTC)
I think someday I should just read my way straight through my shelf of Pratchetts (I own them all except for some of the ones like the Discworld Companion books and one or two of the very early ones, like the Carpet People book(s).) I never get tired of him!
chestnutcurls
Mar. 7th, 2011 05:48 pm (UTC)
YES! Thank you for sharing this.
eattheolives
Mar. 11th, 2011 06:35 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! And oh, what a lovely icon that is ...
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )