Response to Jay Bolter

I sometimes find myself the subject of ridicule due to my preference for the printed word over the electronic screen. I may be called, a hipster, a loser, poor in a couple cases, all because I do not read on an electronic reader. It isn’t that one has never been offered to me, several times family members have asked if I would want one for my birthday. Whenever I say no to them, I can see confusion in their faces. My response to them is usually along the lines of, just because something is technologically superior, does not mean that it is better.

I admit, writing in an electric medium can bring about things that the printed medium can’t, such as immediate responses from others, and it is a quick way to get public opinion on  a topic. However, not all everything electric does that print can is good. Jay Bolter praises electric mediums in his Writing Space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print by saying, “Electronic writing shares with the wax tablet or chalkboard the quality of rapid easy change” (23). I do not mean that type should be static, but that stories should. Looking back across various literary periods, I can only think that they may have been harmed by too rapid of change. For example, why continue exploring Romanticism when Naturalism is already changing everything? Not everything in the world needs to be the same all the time. That would be silly. There are some things that should stay the same though and not change for some amount of time at least.

I believe that a large problem I have with electronic media in general is that is too quick to change and add to its self. To me this simply speaks to a lack of depth on its part. Bolter almost seems to try and prove my point in his praises. “Hypermediated media give up the attempt to present a world beyond themselves; instead, they offer themselves as immediate experiences” (26). While one could make a claim in favor of the immediate experience, isn’t the experience that is immediate all the more fleeting? I’ve played games where I fulfilled a series of immediate activities, and then, not an hour later, I could not remember a single task I did. What is the point of performing a task, not matter how fast it is, if you won’t even remember doing it? When I set aside time with a book though, I want that world beyond the text. I don’t want an immediate experience that I won’t remember by tomorrow. I want to take the time to reflect and think on that book. Electronic media is all too willing to start throwing recommendations, things your friends have liked, and other nuisances at you before you’ve even finished reading the first item.

When I take in a narrative or a text book, I don’t want it done now, I want it done right. That is to say, slowly, with care, and consideration. I want time to take in the text I’m reading without interruption. I freely admit I am somewhat biased in my regard of electronic media. I see it as too fast, too willing to change, and too fast to add to itself. Even for this posting, I grasped for a quote from Edgar Poe I thought would appropriate, but I cannot find the essay. I instead find many people talking about the essay, most of whom are saying the same things. It is a great irony then that this aids my point of electronic media not thinking as well as print than if I had been able to find the essay.

Works Cited

Bolter, J.D. (2001). Writing as technology. Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print. Mahwah, NJ: LEA. 14 – 26


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