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robertogreco : lisasanchez   1

The Art of Writing in (e)Books — Book club — Medium
"That marginalia are a form of writing which, like other more familiar genres (gothic fiction, love poetry, newspaper articles), has its own standards and conventions or unwritten rules that evolve over time; and therefore that marginalia are susceptible of artistry. Some people are better at it than others. Taste, talent, discrimination, style, originality—all these qualities may be displayed and recognized in this medium as well as in others. We might think that marginalia are private and personal but the history of the form strongly suggests otherwise: people write notes in books for a purpose, and that purpose often includes being seen by other people, so there’s usually an element, largely unconscious, of showing off or trying to impress. If that sounds negative, say rather, of urgency, of trying to persuade someone else to share your point of view.

The celebrated annotators are celebrated for different reasons. It might be for the content of their notes (extraordinarily brilliant commentary and analysis, for instance), or for their wit, humour, or vivid character, or for some sort of distinctive flair. Recognition of their brilliance usually comes from their contemporaries and depends on current notions of best practice—which in turn depend upon the examples or models that are available at the time. Whatever great annotators emerge in the digital age, the qualities for which their writing is admired are not likely to be quite the same as those beloved annotators of the past, because the models they incorporate will have been different. (Modern digital annotators are unlikely to have been modelling their way of writing notes on Swift, Blake, Keats, etc.) I would expect digital annotation, for instance, to be more personal and more personally revealing than marginalia have normally been in the past, because of the example of social media."



"I would say that modern digital readers will have no expectation of privacy—so the experience of reading will be psychologically somewhat different for them from what it has been in the past—and that they will look forward to participating in a group response, with subgroups, alliances, and hostilities (disagreements) probably emerging over time. But it has always been the case that once words are published (that is, put out there) the writer loses control over them and the group moves in to interpret as best it can, according to its own background and needs. The risk I foresee with digital “conversation” is that it will be too big and confusing. If readers feel overwhelmed they might eventually not want to participate, and go back to talking to themselves."



"When people write in books, they do it for some purpose and they have usually seen books marked up in the way they eventually do it. But readers typically develop a method of annotation that suits them only slowly, over time. If you are of an impatient disposition, the sort of person who never opens the manual before trying out a machine, you can just plunge in and learn by trial and error. If you are more reflective, you might want to figure out why you are planning to do this and what you expect to get out of it. Are you using notes to take in information, to express opinions, to correct a text or to make connections with other reading? Are you doing it so that some other reader will read as it were with you, understanding the book as you do? If you do that you will work more purposefully and effectively from the start. Both kinds of annotator are likely to find their practice changing, however, so perhaps it doesn’t matter which type you belong to."
readmill  annotation  marginalia  reading  howweread  2013  heatherjackson  lisasanchez  books  socialmedia  ebooks  allsorts  sharing  community  bookclubs  messiness  conversation 
december 2013 by robertogreco

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