A Response to “Reading on the Screen: The New Media Sphere” by Christian Vandendorpe

Christian Vandendorpe’s “Reading on the Screen: The New Media Sphere” Reading from the Screen the New Media Sphere
Vandendorpe brought the aspect of Christianity and it’s historical involvement with the codex medium to a stark reality for me. Seen as a form of liberation yet also as a form of control is very interesting and very relevant, making one wonder about the use of the internet as a means of control. My ears also picked up when I read further when Vandendorpe discussed the advent of silent reading which enabling readers to take their own time to absorb and understand the text at their own pace within context of the monastries of the 12th Centutry. Vandendorpe brings to the forefront the aspect of reading which is vitally important in regards to the individual’s autonomy.As well as being a means of escape, the novel serves the purpose of shutting the world out and entering into another ‘virtual reality’.  With the world wide web’s creation in 1993 the challenge became clearer to the books’ longevity and at the same time providing a glimpse into the opportunities and potential the web has for a world wide library and resource.

Grazing, browsing and hunting are concepts which Vandendorpe uses and relates to the book itself as a medium which provides an avenue for all to be utilised. He draws comparison with the web, highlighting that it really only provides opportunity for browsing and hunting. The aim of which he states is to incorporate grazing for the new form of reading to be established.
On the World Service today there was a piece with a publisher in the UK being interviewed on exactly this, the closure of publishing houses and bookshops and the future of books. She seemed to think that books are already dying out and the bookshop will probably remain, albeit only to serve the purpose of a day out… as a showcase for books.. I thought, as I listened to this how relevant it was regarding Vandendorpe’s essay and further on where he focuses on the evolution of the book in the form of the e-book and the future of reading on screen, as with the kindle. Vandedrope sees the future of reading to be via the digital book, with digital pages (which I couldn’t quite grasp) and the death of the author as all texts are hyperlinked to all the others..(as we are already experiencing)

However why stop there? Will the cognitive act of reading actually be fased out eventually? Surely with technology advancing as it is it won’t be necessary in a few hundred years time. Now that’s science fiction in the making!

Vandendorpe continued to discuss reading style and within this he provides useful and practical tools. He states that people read online text easier with no more than 70 characters to a line and in columns rather than one wide amount, just like in magazines and newspapers..

Work Cited.

Christian Vandendorpe’s “Reading on the Screen: The New Media Sphere”


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