Monday, December 08, 2008

Alan Jacobs: Text Patterns Blog

Alan Jacobs, an unfailingly insightful cultural critic and professor of English at Wheaton College (and, according to one friend, the best-read person on the faculty there) has a new blog at Culture 11, called Text Patterns. It's about technologies of reading, research, and knowledge. Here's a brief explanation from the inaugural post:
I’m a fifty-year-old professor of English and therefore, as you might suspect, a lifelong reader. Books and magazines have been near the core of my identity since I learned to read at age three. I love the printed word and think that it embodies a set of technologies whose virtues can’t be replaced by other media. But I also have a deep interest in and attachment to the online world; I tend to get pretty excited about what I can do, what I can learn, what I can read, and in general what I can experience online.

I’m interested in how reading on the page differs from reading on screens; in how different kinds of screens enable different kinds of knowledge; in the strategies and tools we employ for information gathering, for information ordering, and for information evaluating. I think a lot about linear and non-linear forms of organizing mental experience, and the technologies that make such organization easier or harder. I wonder about whether we’re really losing serendipity, as so many people say. I’m fascinated by the various speeds at which technologies move and by our ability (or, sometimes, inability) to match those speeds. I wonder what libraries are for and what they will be for.