I give here the abstract of my talk to the “Going Digital” Nobel Symposium.
Digitizing includes digital texts, digitized books and digitized libraries and it poses the question of reading. Is there anything like digital reading? And is this digital reading able to succeed to “classical” reading?
This approach looks at reading as a practice, not as a simple consequence of digital text, digital medium and computerized devices for reading.
The web has created the environment for real reading practices. But questions are arising about: the consistency of technology, the sort of attention of the reader, the achievement of the reading act, and, at last, the type of reading.
Flimsy and intricate technology, hyper-attention rather than deep attention, pre-reading rather than complete reading, information reading rather than studying reading: all this tendencies may converge towards a situation where the link between reading and reflection is no more established. Yet this association of reading and reflection, of lectio and meditatio, is the keystone of classical reading.
If this diagnostic is correct, the two following questions are: why technology is so poor? And: how the public of readers can manage with this situation?
The notion of “industrial readings space” is proposed as an answer to the two questions.
History knows reading technologies or “literary industries” but reading industries are a true novelty. Reading industries appear on the crossing of information industry, cultural industry and marketing industry. A characteristic of the digital era is the place of access industries rather than content industries. Reading industries are such access industries.
Reading industries have three activities: computerization of the means of reading; production of reading acts and reading texts; and – what is the basis of the business model – trading of readings and readers.
The industrial readings space differs deeply from the earlier combination of public and private space, as evoked for example by Kant around the principle of publicity, “Öffentlichkeit”. Mainly it is a face-to-face of the reading industries with the public of readers, without intervention of the public powers who have disinterested themselves of their responsibility on digital literacy, and digital reading knowledge.
So the readers face a lot of responsibilities: on technology, closing of the text, type of reading, auto-institution as public, and training.
One of the main problems of the industrial readings space, and of the so-called “society of information” is: are the different readers, including the “digital natives” prepared to such responsibilities?