Window and Mirror Reading: Happy Belated Week 8 Post

In the beginning, there was Darcy Moore….

This week, I am of the opinion that Popular Culture is beguiling, fluid, addictive and overwhelming.  Popular Culture, accessed via the internet, has wooed me with its charm, has caused me to jump around from one great thing to the next for over three hours, by the end of which I was completely overwhelmed by information overload.  I had to sit in a darkened room with limited stimulation for half an hour in order to restore my default settings.

fire hydrant

Information hydrant by Will Lion

http://www.flickr.com/photos/will-lion/2595497078/

Background image adapted from www.flickr.com/photos/josephrobertson/127758523

It began innocently enough with Darcy Moore.  He might not strictly be a polymath, but he comes fairly close.  In his blog, he struggles with his purpose for reading,

‘Reading has always been a solitary pursuit – by definition – in my mind’. 

Despite being a self-confessed non-participant in book clubs and other social reading groups, he has seen the light, promoting social reading platforms such as ReadCloud and Shelfari.  He even includes a quote by CS Lewis, ‘We read to know we are not alone’.  I understand his conflicted views.  For me, reading is a very personal and comforting pursuit.  As Erica Hateley beautifully explains, reading is both a mirror and a window: affirming life in the here and now, as well as showing a world outside of oneself.  Although reading is personal and solitary, I gain so much out of my regular book club, which meets once a month and has been going since 1991!

darcymoore.net/‎

My experience of the transformative effects of book clubs is not unusual.  Way back in the dark ages (1996), Sandra Kerka researched the book group phenomenon.  Her article, ‘Book Groups: Communities of Learners’ outlines various reasons why people join and stay.  The learning achieved by participating in a book group includes knowledge of texts, knowledge of contexts, knowledge of self, of others and knowledge of how to read.  She begins in her abstract by stating that

‘Hundreds and thousands of adults participate in book discussion groups, satisfying lifelong learning needs informally and in community’,

and concludes by reiterating that, for adults, book discussion groups fulfill the needs of relating to others and ongoing learning.

So, how does this all relate to Popular Culture?  Let’s assume that reading is still a popular pursuit with adults and youth – a reasonable assumption given the continuing growth in ebook sales (http://digitalpublishingaustralia.org.au/2012/12/05/ebooks-now-represent-more-than-1-in-5-us-adult-trade-purchases/).  What has changed is the platform via which reading is delivered and the methods of engagement with others.  Enter ReadCloud, Shelfari, Twitter, Inside a Dog…three hours later, enter information overload and aforementioned darkened room!

Tumblr of just some of the links which took me far and away from Darcy Moore…

http://beguilingaddictive.tumblr.com/

References

Hateley, E. (2013).  Children’s Literature: Criticism and Practice (Learning Resources).  QUT: Kelvin Grove. http://blackboard.qut.edu.au/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_4_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2FcourseMain%3Fcourse_id%3D_101715_1

Kerka, S. (1996). Book Groups: Communities of Learners. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education. 1996 (71) pp. 81-90. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/doi/10.1002/ace.36719967111/pdf

Moore, D. (2012, July 29). Social reading: Fad or future? Post on Darcy Moore’s Bloghttp://darcymoore.net/2012/07/29/social-reading-fad-or-future/

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5 thoughts on “Window and Mirror Reading: Happy Belated Week 8 Post

  1. I’m very tempted to go out and seek a book group, now! It gives us a feeling of belonging, of sharing knowledge, that we do not get in any other circumstances. I think Erica did say it in the perfect way when she said that reading shows us both sides of the coin. There is nothing better than opening up a new book, hearing the crack of the spine as it yields, wondering what magical worlds lie within 🙂
    ReadCloud sounds very interesting, I have not heard of it before- but it definitely demonstrates just how quickly technology is moving ahead. I would love to be able to see it in action.

  2. Indeed, the internet vehicle for popular culture is a wild train. And one is easily taken onto a three hour ride against its own will! As we forever evolve, this is another era of our human history with its benefits and challenges. Benefits that let us virtually connect and share our thoughts, stories and skills as long as we have an internet connection! And challenges in sorting out the good from the bad and protecting our children in these wide world of web internet. As you mention in your post, book club have been around for a long time and they help people share ideas. But now with the advent of cloud computing and online network these ideas can be shared and connected to more people. The good in this, I believe, is the connection with more like minded people. The bad might be the absence of face to face human interaction (though there is always the webcam!). The good is that shy people might express themselves more on an online platform. The bad maybe the lack of scrutiny. The online world is now our world and our kids world. Personally, I don’t think we have a choice, we have to look at it critically to understand it and work with it to get the best out of it.

    • Yes Gabrielle, I agree with your pragmatic assessment of popular culture – ‘we have to look at it critically to understand it and work with it to get the best out of it’! There are so many little gems in popular culture, both the hidden gems and the exposed ones. It’s so lovely when, on that ‘three hour pop culture ride’, we come away with more gemstones than slurry:)

  3. I have similarly never been in a book club…I think it’s because I don’t like the pressure of reading to a deadline. That’s why I like online/asynchronous forums like Goodreads, because I can connect with ‘like-minded people’, as Gabrielle suggests, but do it on my own time and at my own pace.

    PS. Do you happen to have a reference to where Erica Hateley said that thing about mirrors and windows? Or did she say it in class?

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