I’ve been focused on this fundamental question for some time: what happens when reading becomes social? I fully admit I don’t have the answer.
First, it is difficult for classrooms to embrace this notion of reading as social beyond the walls of the classroom and even within it. Second, the work flow for making reading social is not as seamless as it needs to be for a mass entry point.
But I continue to explore this question. This is why I really want to know what students and teachers think about the ideas presented in the recent article “Social Reading: The Next Phase of e-Book Revolution” by Sean Prpick.
In particular, I’m fascinated by this thought from Bob Stein in the article:
This idea that we read by ourselves is a relatively recent idea and is going to go away. The reality is that once you start locating texts inside of that dynamic network, you start opening up the possibilities for the book to become a place where readers can start to congregate and start to talk to each other, and once people start to see the power of that, they won’t want to go back.
This is such a rich quote to unpack.
This isn’t a new concept for English teachers. We’ve long seen the value of a network experience for learning. This is why we’ve read whole-class novels and other pieces, discussed them as a class, and engaged in work surrounding these pieces. However, it is the notion of a dynamic network that not only transcends the walls of the classroom but makes the individual book open to all of those in the network.
That is the difference! My book used to be a personal and private experience. My notes, my ideas, my questions were mine and only shared if I engaged in a discussion or gave the teacher my book.
What happens when my book is a window for anyone to look through? What do we gain? What do we lose?
The Power of Social Reading
When digital reading is just a replacement of the print… When it doesn’t take advantage of these new found possibilities… I can guarantee you’ll see a split if not a leaning towards sticking with the print book. However, I would bet an immersion into a dynamic network and the openness of reading that is simply not possible in print would at least provoked an interesting debate over print vs digital.
What happens when my thinking about the book connects me to the author? to experts interested in the same topic? to amateurs exploring the book?
Closed Silos of Information
Prpick claims that “digital pioneers say the old business model that’s existed in the publishing industry for the last 500 years — that books are closed silos of information — is about to be blown away.” And this notion of closed silos exists whether digital or physical. The question is whether we are going to embrace or at least try what is possible in the social realm.
It is a great article to read. More importantly, it is a great article to discuss which is exactly what I’m going to do with our pilot teachers and students.