LiquidText, An application to help improve active e-reading

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Summary: Active reading is considered, by some, to be a cornerstone to both proper reading and effective learning. It is also a missing component (or crippled component), for most e-reading. This application is meant to help...

BLOT: (01 Jul 2011 - 12:32:41 PM)

LiquidText, An application to help improve active e-reading

When I prepared my LS502 library research topic, which was about the cognitive differences between print reading (p-reading) and electronic/digital reading (e-reading); one of the pretty big things that marked my research as relevant was the fact that e-reading (I was mostly focusing on e-reading as I see college students doing it: via a computer monitor) has [as much as severely] decreased active reading. As you read, you touch the page. You flip back and forth. You write notes down. You scribble in the margins.

This isn't really the super secret trick to being big smart learning types: research that I saw was actually kind of vague on real benefits, and it mostly is used as a tool to get you to think about the text in different lights. Rather than just sit back and passively accept the text you dissect the sentences, digest them into your own words, think of them as tactile as well visual, give yourself time to absorb what is being said. Many aspects of active reading can be accomplished even if you are on a monitor: you can still touch the "page", still write down random notes elsewhere, or give yourself little quizzes on the text. Even basic text displaying applications such as Adobe Reader and Microsoft Word have increased highlighting, note taking, etc etc. But active reading does help develop good thinking habits and the kind you do with a computer monitor or tablet is a different sort of thing and those differences seem to have a degree of interference.

One of a trio of links (see bottom of this entry for the other two) that Sarah sent me yesterday dealt with a program, LiquidText, designed to aid active e-reading. And it does it quite nicely. You are able to take chunks of text and break them off and put them aside, to make marginalia, highlight with a touch, to link bits together. What's more, it allows cross-references and multi-page interactions, meaning you can generate an even higher degree of active text interaction than a piece of paper would allow. I wonder how well it handles sort of mixed motions of the hands—one swipe to kind of jostle a page, one to highlight, one to move a chunk off page—because ulimately it will be the natural quality of the motion that makes all the difference. I love my Kindle, and I occassionally love to make notes and such, but there is nothing natural about its set-up.

Besides that nice bit of technology, here are the other two:


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