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.
Information hydrant by Will Lion
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!
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…
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 Blog. http://darcymoore.net/2012/07/29/social-reading-fad-or-future/