That part of the future which is here today

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As you may have gathered, if you’ve been following along, the reason I no longer post much around here is that I’m in grad school, in a program that doesn’t have anything to do with books. Not usually, anyway. It’s a two-year master’s deal, and I have to come up with a thesis sometime in the next couple of months, so I’m hoping to find some way to work books back into it. In the meantime, however, most of the connection between school and books is in the readings I do for my classes.

A few of these readings are in the form of actual bound books, most of which I’ve bought because I don’t have time to wait for them to be available at the library. Many more of the texts I have to read are stapled photocopies, just as Gutenberg printed them when I was in college six hundred years ago. But the majority of my readings this semester are online, either on good, old-fashioned Web pages or in dedicated e-book sites such as Safari or Books24x7, to which my university subscribes.

So, uh, I know it’s old news, but reading books onscreen sucks.

One of my teachers asked us to fill out a midterm questionnaire, which included the questions, “Are there any specific readings you would recommend removing from the reading list? Any readings you particularly liked? Any good readings that you think should be added to the reading list in the future?” Admirable. But all I could think of, staring at the open text box, was, “What’s the point?” All of the readings for this class are online, and I don’t feel like I’ve retained a single syllable of them, except in the ones that I was able to print out. The pages from Safari and Books24x7 can’t be printed (you can print from a paid Safari subscription, but we don’t get this option through the university login), and though I can copy and paste them into TextEdit files and then print those, it’s tedious and doesn’t work well with heavily structured books—like, for example, most computer books. 10/24/09: I’m an idiot. Yes, I can print, though the process is tedious, from Safari; Books24x7 still requires the cut-and-paste workaround, however. 10/31/09: So, just to confuse matters further, Safari Books Online has just redesigned, and they killed the HTML view, which was what I’d been printing from. So now you have to print a book one print-sized page at a time. Idiotic—and so unpopular that they’ve promised to fix it. But for now, neither service has a workable print option. Fortunately, complaining to my teacher helped (I was not the only one, apparently): he’s going to start supplying hard copies of our readings. Take that, Paperless Office! And you evil, evil trees!

Safari book screenshot
help! my book is trapped in this tiny, nasty box! (this screenshot is of the old HTML view)

It’s great that we can read excerpts of all these hot, young technical books without having to buy every one. Last semester, in a panic, I bought three computer books at a Barnes & Noble, the only bricks-and-mortar store I know of that even carries computer books in any reasonable imitation of diversity: $157. When I got home and my sanity returned, I ordered those three books “Like New” from Amazon for $71, shipped. Returned the first set. Yes, it’s people like me who are killing the publishing industry and putting people like me out of jobs. And it’s pricing like this which makes a $43/month Safari subscription seem reasonable . . . until I consider that anything I read through Safari feels ephemeral: I don’t read it as attentively as I would on paper, because I just want to get out of that awful reading interface as quickly as possible, and then it’s such a nuisance to relocate something I’ve read there that I’ll never do it again.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t retain much on the first read; the first run-through is just for warmup. If I liked a book or if it’s important, as soon as I get to the end I’ll often start over at the beginning, so that I can really read it. If I had these chapters on paper that I’m supposed to read for school, I’d probably reread parts of them many times; since I don’t, though, I might as well not have read them in the first place. All I’m left with is a fuzzy sense of having seen some words once that were kind of about the subject in question.

This impression of vague, irretrievable information is exacerbated by the dearth of place cues in e-books of all kinds. A few months ago, for the sake of science, I started reading books on my iPod Touch. First, I read The Three Musketeers in the Kindle iPhone app; then I read The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin in Stanza. Surprisingly, considering that I’m, y’know, a book designer and typesetter, what irritated the !@#$% out of me was not this—

text in Kindle iPhone app
text in Kindle iPhone app

or this—

text in Stanza iPhone app
text in Stanza iPhone app

table in Stanza iPhone app
a table, so help me god, in Stanza iPhone app

but rather the near impossibility of thumbing back a few pages’ worth to find something I’d already read. Stanza offers much better wayfinding aids than Kindle, showing your relative position within each chapter (that thin two-tone line along the very bottom of the two Stanza screenshots), and not just within the whole book. But there was still no substitute for that visual aspect of reading, which lets one narrow down a search: “The sentence I’m half-remembering was on a verso page, about five lines from the top,” so you can then scan quickly backward, looking only at that part of each page spread, until you find it.

You can search an e-book, yes, and that’s a big selling point, but it’s not helpful when it’s just a dumb text search. Searching an e-book (assuming the software lets you—the Kindle app, as far as I can tell, does not) is not like searching with The Google, where putting in the wrong terms can still get you to the same place if enough other people have used those terms to link to the page. Nor is it like a good index, which cross-references guinea pig to cavy and back; if I search an e-book of The Three Musketeers for lackey I don’t get all mentions of Mousqueton or vice versa, whereas in a properly indexed edition of the book, I would.

Is this a deal-breaker? Obviously not, since blind people successfully read and retain information from books every day. And I certainly absorbed some information and enjoyment from these less-than-ideal reading experiences. If printed books—all of them—were to disappear today, replaced by electronic ones, I trust that I’d adjust. Somehow.

At the moment, I can’t imagine a reading interface that I’d prefer over a codex-style book, but that says more about my lack of imagination than about present alternatives or future possibilities. Can you think of a good way to indicate position in a book that is either unpaginated or divided into pages so small that they can’t help you remember where you read something?

Also, while you’re at it, can you think of a thesis project for me? Kthxmuch.

Photo: Love Heart <3 by -Weng-; some rights reserved.

24 Responses

  1. Dylan Tweney
    Dylan Tweney October 23, 2009 at 2:00 pm |

    India, have you tried reading things on a Kindle or other e-book reader? Just wondering how that experience might compare to the onscreen reading you complain about here. I suspect it might have some of the same shortcomings as Stanza (lack of place references, etc) but might be improved by the ability to add notes and annotations, plus the more “papery” look of the e-ink screen. But I’m just guessing. Would love to know what you thought.

    Thesis project: You could do an “electronic” book something like this: http://hlt.media.mit.edu/popables/

  2. Dylan Tweney
    Dylan Tweney October 23, 2009 at 2:02 pm |

    p.s. What’s so annoying about screenshot #2 (ragged-right text in Stanza)?

  3. India
    India October 23, 2009 at 3:43 pm |

    Nope, I haven’t used (beyond cursory examination) a Kindle or other dedicated e-book reader, because . . . well, I was going to say that I can’t afford one, but that’s not literally true. But I am not even slightly persuaded that it would be a worthwhile use of a couple of hundred bucks.

    Keep in mind, I’m also the person who’s never paid for a cell phone handset, and the only reason I had a Palm Pilot is that I won it in a sweepstakes. Three of my four iPods have been free, including the iPod Touch on which I read those two books; the only iPod I’ve bought was an 80 GB Classic that I chose because before I signed up for SugarSync, I was using it for sneakernet. I’m a late, late, late adopter on most gadgetry. This and other parsimonious habits are what have enabled me to work at nonprofits and in publishing for most of my so-called career.

    So if you have a spare e-book reader, please send it along, for the sake of science. In the meantime, I’ll keep reading books on the two electronic gadgets that I already always have with me.

    Just guessing here, but I suspect that the larger screen on a dedicated e-book reader allows traditional page-based location recall to continue working. It would be less memorable than a two-page spread but more memorable than a page that holds only eighty words.

    The second screenshot isn’t exceptionally terrible, but it obscures the structure of the numbered list. If the numbered passages were longer, you’d lose the sense of a list entirely.

    “Electronic popables” is/are adorable.

  4. Judy
    Judy October 23, 2009 at 4:12 pm |

    I haven’t stopped by in a while, so I missed your life-changing decision. Good luck with it!

    And you might mention to your professors and fellow explorers that the web pages for your program are nigh onto unreadable, at least the ones that are white text on pale background.

    My sister, an avid reader, bought herself a Kindle this past year and really loves it, but I still like all the things you cite about the real books in my life. Except carrying them, of course.

  5. India
    India October 23, 2009 at 4:46 pm |

    White text on a pale background? I know the website is a nightmare—the word wikitastrophe suggests itself—but I’ve yet to see that particular combination. Which page(s) did you see it on?

  6. Dylan Tweney
    Dylan Tweney October 24, 2009 at 12:44 am |

    Re e-book readers, I don’t have any spare ones, but I’ll keep an eye out. I’m kinda excited about this Barnes & Noble Nook actually, partly because it supports PDF and EPub formats, and I am very very suspicious of spending money on proprietary-format DRMed books that might disappear at any moment. So even though, if I owned an e-book reader, I’d probably wind up doing just exactly that, the fact that I could also use it to read open-format documents that I actually own would be a comfort.

    Then of course there’s the Mac tablet. Which may or may not, depending on which rumors you believe, render all of these e-book readers moot.

  7. India
    India October 24, 2009 at 3:09 am |

    The Sony Reader also supports ePub and PDF, right now, and at least two wicked-clever people I know own both Sony and Kindle and prefer the Sony.

    I would object to the Barnes-and-Nobleness of the B&N device, if nothing else; it would be like having a McDonald’s-brand stand mixer in my kitchen. Just wrong. Which is sad, because when I was in school, before B&N went chain, it was the bookstore to me. I went to others, but that was the one that always had what I was looking for. Now the only department where they have an advantage is, as I’ve said, computer books, which nobody else can afford to stock in any great variety.

    For me, I suspect the Mac tablet is most likely to be The Thing—though I won’t get the first generation, of course—because it’ll replace my laptop, which is something I’m always lugging around anyway (at least while I’m in school). The last thing I need is another life-support system for rechargeable batteries to try to fit in my bag. Or “bags,” I should say. I’m now one of those women who always carries a too-big handbag and a tote bag. The holy grail of handbag-worthy laptop bags eludes me still.

  8. Cynthia Closkey
    Cynthia Closkey October 24, 2009 at 8:22 am |

    For a thesis, I’m not sure of all your program encompasses, but could your project look at something close to this issue? Differences in usability, retention, and joy in reading based on medium?

  9. India
    India October 24, 2009 at 1:27 pm |

    @Dylan: Make that two wicked-clever people and one highly intelligent cat.

    @Cindy: Hmm. I like that idea, but I’d have to come up with a way to . . . physicalize it. ITP is emphatically not a theoretical program; nearly all the theses are production projects, and a large percentage of those involve physical computing. I am decidedly unhandy at electronics, so I’ve been thinking I’d do a project that involves programming (not that I’m handy at programming, either, but at least I’ve been doing it badly for ten years longer). This topic suggests a physical approach, though, some way of making the project portable.

    Because that’s another problem with a lot of e-reading options currently available. Adobe Digital Editions, for example, lets you view pages in spreads, with exactly the same pagination as in the printed book, but since text designed for print is not usually optimal for onscreen reading (a book is more likely to use some spindly typeface that breaks down at 72 dpi), in order to view those spreads at a comfortable size, I have to use the application on my 24-inch iMac. Decidedly unportable.

    So I’d want to build something roughly book-sized, and wireless. Here the Electronic Popables project suggests itself again, and I’m picturing something kind of like one of those book-safes, where it looks like a regular hardcover until you open it, and then inside there’s . . . something blinky and wifi enabled.

    I dunno. Just thinking out loud here.

    Sucking at electronics is a real handicap, because of course what would be coolest would be to get an E Ink or Pixel Qi screen and hack it into something interesting. That’s soooo not gonna happen, though.

  10. Jodi Schneider
    Jodi Schneider October 28, 2009 at 11:08 am |

    You might be interested in trying bookworm as a reading interface: http://bookworm.oreilly.com/

    What’s your master’s in, anyway? I love thinking of topics for other people.

    I think you’re right about finding things visually. This has definitely been a problem for me on the iphone. Stanza is a great way (for me) to read fiction/popular books because (as long as I don’t run out of batteries) it’s always there. I’m still waiting for my letter/A4 size, annotation-friendly PDF ebook reader for all those scholarly papers!

    As far as search goes, there’s a bright future for this. XML encoding means that there’s the potential to search near parts, in certain sections, just in headings, etc. In fact, Safari Books online allows you to do some of this right now (and I hope you found the print styles, as well).

    I’m still waiting for that perfect ebook reader, but I really hope that it’s on the way!

  11. India
    India October 28, 2009 at 3:48 pm |

    Hi, Jodi. I just watched your “What We Talk About When We Talk About FRBR” presentation and—even though I have only the fuzziest sense of the context—found out about some interesting resources from it. So, thanks!

    I’ve looked at Bookworm a few times, but as far as I’ve been able to tell from reading the site—maybe this is an instance of inadequate copywriting, or maybe the source of the problem is located somewhere between the keyboard and the chair—it doesn’t do anything I need. I almost never read books at my desk; it’s uncomfortable, and if I’m sitting at the computer, it’s probably because I’m supposed to be doing something else. Where I want access to e-books is on the subway, which requires a mobile device—in my case, an iPod Touch or a Google phone. No Internet on the subway = no Bookworm. I can manage ePub files through Bookworm, but that’s not something I need, since I already sync files across my computers and gadgets using other methods. So . . .

    But tell me what you use it for. What do you like about it?

    My master’s is in “interactive telecommunications,” supposedly, which doesn’t mean anything to me, nor apparently to most people who hear those words. It’s a multidisciplinary program that’s vaguely centered on Making, using technology of no specific kind. While it’s possible to follow an academic track there after the first semester (in which the incoming class takes four core courses in physical computing, programming, communications [web development, video, animation, cartooning], and bullshitology), most students go on to make toys, art, websites, mobile apps, music, games, gadgets, and all kinds of other stuff. “A center for the recently possible” is the tagline on the website, and that phrase seems to evoke more useful associations than the name.

    It’s only a two-year program, so I feel like I just arrived, but so far I have shown myself to have no aptitude whatsoever for electronics or fabrication. I have a congenital distaste for anything resembling art; I hate noise; and although I played tons of video games as a young person, I have almost no attention span for them now. So my project will most likely be in the form of software, either a web-based service, or, say, an Adobe AIR or Java-based desktop app.

    So, for instance, something like Bookworm would be appropriate, if it didn’t already exist, and if I thought it served some purpose. (Projects do not have to be useful, but it sure would be nice.)

    Meanwhile, over drinks last night, my clever friend Sarah Groff-Palermo suggested what sounded to me like a partial solution to the wayfinding problem in small e-book readers: set aside an area on each page (e.g., a stripe along the edge) to mark with a sequence of (user-customizable) colors, so that you can remember that the passage you want to flip back to was on a blue page, or a yellow page, or whatever. This would have to be tested, of course, to see if our brains actually retain those color associations with anything like the accuracy of our spatial memory, but it at least sounds like it would work.

  12. Dylan Tweney
    Dylan Tweney October 28, 2009 at 7:28 pm |

    Bookworm sounds cool, though I have not used it. It might suit your subway use case, though, since it syncs with Stanza on the iPhone/iPod Touch. Since Stanza stores files locally, that means you’d sync once, then you’d have the book with you wherever you take your iPhone.

    What Bookworm seems to need, though, is a way to convert a variety of files — PDF, TXT, HTML spring to mind — into ePub. Who has ePub books?? Certainly not me.

  13. India
    India October 28, 2009 at 7:36 pm |
    It might suit your subway use case, though, since it syncs with Stanza on the iPhone/iPod Touch. Since Stanza stores files locally, that means you’d sync once, then you’d have the book with you wherever you take your iPhone.

    But why do I need another app to put books into Stanza? It’s not like Stanza can’t get books into itself. What am I missing here?

  14. Dylan Tweney
    Dylan Tweney October 28, 2009 at 9:13 pm |

    Oh yeah. Duh.

  15. Jodi Schneider
    Jodi Schneider October 29, 2009 at 3:58 am |

    Bookworm can be a backup for Stanza (so your files aren’t just on one platform), and a way to test EPUB files.

  16. Jodi Schneider
    Jodi Schneider October 29, 2009 at 4:33 am |

    Addressing wayfinding with color sounds interesting. The trouble is that I don’t always know that I want to bookmark a page when I’m first on it. Would this be like a rainbow of colors already running through the book? That seems like an interesting project in and of itself.

    It sounds like you’re beating yourself up for not being an engineer. Don’t. Interaction design sounds like it’s part of the program. Interfaces, and how things look, is really important. And I’m betting that those are your strengths (from what I understand of your background in book design).

    Does creating software or a web-based service really sing to you? It sounds like you’d have a lot of fun creating interfaces. Question is, for what. I’m hoping you go for some sort of reading interface.

    For instance, can you apply research on typeface design or readability to an ebook interface? Perhaps with experiments on actual users? What about updating a study like Sellen’s Myth of the Paperless Office? (Have I mentioned ClipRead to you?)

    Could you partner with an industrial lab? (Think paper/document companies as well as eink, as well as computing companies.) Intern with a place like Kodak, HP, PARC. Someplace research-oriented in a group where your previous background is an asset, and engineering skills aren’t essential. Or perhaps an innovation group at a publisher–like Penguin’s Interactive group, the people behind We Tell Stories.

    What do you plan to do with the degree when you finish?

    As far as coming up with a topic, I highly recommend blogging about it. Also see if you can get interest from a place life if:book? Their Brooklyn location might also be a great place to hang out and find some collaborators. And if they linked to your “here are my ideas what should I do” post, you’d get lots of comments, I think.

    I’m definitely looking forward to hearing what you wind up doing!

    PS: How flattering that you spent the time to look at my FRBR talk! Happy to talk about it if there’s anything you want to know!

  17. Jodi Schneider
    Jodi Schneider October 29, 2009 at 4:53 am |

    Just ran into Library of Congress’s new “read online” promotion: here’s an example via read.gov

  18. India
    India October 30, 2009 at 12:59 am |
    Addressing wayfinding with color sounds interesting. The trouble is that I don’t always know that I want to bookmark a page when I’m first on it. Would this be like a rainbow of colors already running through the book?

    Yes, it would just be there all the time, so you’re only subliminally aware of the colors. I think that’d be enough. Maybe I can mock up an iPhone or Android app and test it . . . oh, by 2012 or so.

    It sounds like you’re beating yourself up for not being an engineer. Don’t. Interaction design sounds like it’s part of the program. Interfaces, and how things look, is really important. And I’m betting that those are your strengths (from what I understand of your background in book design).

    Yeah, well, my dad was a lapsed engineer, and I guess I just like them. Also, the kind of coding I’d like to do is hardly rocket science; I’m just really slow at it. I make a lot of stupid mistakes that would probably go away if I did it more often, but because I’m bad and slow at it, I don’t do it often enough to get better.

    I’ve been a designer for most of the last decade, and even an “art director,” whatever that is, but I don’t think it’s my métier. Mainly, what I’m good at is bitching, finding fault, and then making small, incremental improvements. That’s how I approach design: “Well, damn, even I could make a book that’s more readable than that . . .” It’s also how I code, once I’ve gotten the “Hello, World” part out of the way—I make something awful and clunky, and then I gradually tweak it, line by line. See entry at “slow.” I’ve heard that people who plan their projects beforehand work faster and cleaner, but I don’t think my brain can operate that way. At least, it hasn’t yet.

    Does creating software or a web-based service really sing to you? It sounds like you’d have a lot of fun creating interfaces. Question is, for what. I’m hoping you go for some sort of reading interface.

    I’d love to have a job bitching and complaining about reading interfaces and then coming up with lots of tiny ways to make them better. Probably shouldn’t put that objective on my résumé in quite those words, though. (Anyway, objectives on résumés are for n00bs.)

    For instance, can you apply research on typeface design or readability to an ebook interface? Perhaps with experiments on actual users? What about updating a study like Sellen’s Myth of the Paperless Office? (Have I mentioned ClipRead to you?)

    Aagh! ClipRead! One of my classmates was doing a project like that all last year. I hate that kind of interface. In my head, it makes everything sound like William Shatner doing a poetry reading. Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!

    I haven’t read Myth of the Paperless Office, but I’ve heard it mentioned a lot, and it sounds interesting. And I’d certainly like to try to design a reader interface, but I think that would be too pragmatic a thesis project for the program I’m in. Maybe I can incorporate it into what I’m probably doing, though.

    Could you partner with an industrial lab? (Think paper/document companies as well as eink, as well as computing companies.) Intern with a place like Kodak, HP, PARC. Someplace research-oriented in a group where your previous background is an asset, and engineering skills aren’t essential. Or perhaps an innovation group at a publisher–like Penguin’s Interactive group, the people behind We Tell Stories.

    This would be awesome for after I graduate. It’s not something I can cram in before May, though.

    What do you plan to do with the degree when you finish?

    I have no effing clue. I’d like to stay near publishing, preferably nonprofit, but besides that, I’m refusing to think about it.

    As far as coming up with a topic, I highly recommend blogging about it. Also see if you can get interest from a place like if:book? Their Brooklyn location might also be a great place to hang out and find some collaborators. And if they linked to your “here are my ideas what should I do” post, you’d get lots of comments, I think.

    I confess I’ve always had an aversion to if:book because it’s associated with Sophie. The first e-book I ever worked on—and one of my first freelance typesetting jobs—was a textbook set in tk3, Sophie’s predecessor. It was one of the most spectacularly ill-conceived pieces of software I’ve ever had the misfortune to have to work in. Tk3 made the then current Quark XPress 4 seem like, I don’t know, uh, InDesign CS4 by comparison. It was clearly made by people who didn’t understand the first thing about making books or software—and especially about the separation of presentation from content. Sophie doesn’t seem to have come very far, and I managed to crash it in less than two minutes of tire-kicking. Makes it hard to take them seriously. Also, they may have a lot of readers, but I see far more insightful blog posts just about everywhere. (Shoutout: Cody Brown, who’s the subject of the most recent post over there right now, is in one of my classes. He seems like a whip-smart guy.)

    Rant over? Probably not.

    Pro0freAding this and my other comments, above, I see that my response to all your excellent advice sounds like “No, no, no, no, um, and no,” but I can assure you, that’s not what I mean. It’s just—like with the bitching and complaining about design and interfaces—my first reaction is always, “No!” and then I start layering thin, more constructive responses around it. I’ll definitely be thinking more about all that you’ve suggested, and once I’ve had some sleep, I’ll start trying to put some of it to more positive use. Thanks so much for your thoughtful encouragement.

  19. Jodi Schneider
    Jodi Schneider October 30, 2009 at 7:42 am |
    Mainly, what I’m good at is bitching, finding fault, and then making small, incremental improvements.

    Sounds like you’d be great at usability!

    Funny that you don’t like ClipRead. I skim, but I can skim faster when form follows content. In fact, in my own books, I get really annoyed when a page ends mid-clause. I’m trying to come up with explanations for each “bad page break” so that I can pass them on to somebody who’d prevent them (i.e. automatically with software).

    It sounds like you’d like the design processes of GMU’s CHNM, who make Zotero. But do give if:book another try.

    What I really appreciate about if:book is their singularity of purpose: following the future of books, cataloging what’s going on around the world, and so forth. Of course, that’s a big bailiwick, but I often find things from them that I don’t see elsewhere.

    Looking forward to hearing more about the ongoing adventures, and glad to hear about your ITP blog–I’ll take more of a look at bookalator one of these days.

  20. Dylan Tweney
    Dylan Tweney October 30, 2009 at 10:41 am |

    I haven’t used ClipRead but the description makes it sound functionally similar to Readability, a JavaScript thingy that reformats web pages so they’re more readable. I find it very useful: http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/

    Actually, I don’t use it super often, but it is occasionally indispensible. Instapaper, which I use all the time, does something similar, although it doesn’t offer Readability’s range of options for formatting.

    I like both of these because they return some control over the text formatting to the user, and get rid of all the crap that seems to dominate nearly ever website’s design these days.

    I actually think that the future of content sites’ designs — for both user-readability reasons and for business reasons — will be much, much cleaner. Big areas of text, no sidebars, minimal or no headers. Such designs would be more reader-friendly, would allow more room for big images, and would make it easier to put big ads in too (without making those ads too obtrusive). If the sites I read were more like this there’d be no need for things like Readability, of course.

    Thanks for that Shatner link. The man is awesome. That video totally made my day.

  21. Jodi Schneider
    Jodi Schneider October 30, 2009 at 10:53 am |

    India, Do you use delicious or something of that sort?

    Ran across a link to Random House’s innovation group via a “Future of the Book” workshop.

  22. India
    India November 1, 2009 at 1:11 am |

    @Dylan: Readability, I love. I only wish it worked on more sites. But ClipRead is a very different product—it cuts the lines of text into little chunks.

    I hate that.

    @Jodi: Yes, I was on delicious, but now I’m using pinboard.in—”Social bookmarking for introverts.”

  23. India
    India February 16, 2010 at 12:26 am |

    Looks like I’m not the only student who hates reading articles online and who doesn’t learn as much from online readings as from hard copies. Jenifer Joy Madden has a great post at her blog The Durable Human about student and faculty reactions to American University’s “Green Certified” courses, in which “teachers communicate online, use electronic books and readings, and let students use laptops in class, among other measures considered sustainable”: How Green Is My Classroom.

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