Over the course of the last six weeks or so I’ve read a lot of information about digital literature plus I’ve looked a wide range of examples of digital literature with some of them sharing certain attributes. For example, it has been my experience that the digital literature I’ve seen which has been developed as entertainment is more often than not much more interactive than digital literature which has been developed purely to provide information.
The hallmark of a good digital text is the judicious use of meaningful interactivity. In other words, its important for the developer of the digital text to be thoughtful and intentional about when and where they add interactive elements. In other words, the interactive elements need to complement the text by adding meaning to what is being said. Walsh (2013) describes it as an aesthetic synergy between the technical features, the artistic creation of the text and the ideas within it.
At the same time, the good digital text has been developed to take advantage of the affordances of the platform being used whilst at the same time using interactive elements which help to communicate meaning. In other words, a good digital text includes interactive elements that enhance the meaning of the text and add value to the experience of the reader.
A good digital text is also well-designed in the sense that it has been constructed to suit the age of the reader and the purpose of the author. In other words, the content has been written in such a way that it can easily be accessed by the reader. In particular, the language used is appropriate to the audience.
As an example, the Al Gore – Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis iPad app contains a large volume of factual information in the form of language which is both concrete and specific. SHERLOCK: Interactive Adventure, however, is a work of fiction with language that is much more abstract. Moreover, in Our Choice, in order to make it easier for the adult reader to digest this information, some of which is quite technical, the developers have created a number of interactive images that help to convey meaning. On the other hand, a developer creating a digital text to be viewed by young children would use short, simple sentences the meaning of which can be clearly understood by a small child. In particular, including technical information in a digital text intended for a young audience would be ridiculous since the children’s language skills would still be fairly basic.
Out of all of the digital texts I have looked at recently my favourite would have to be The History of Jazz: An Interactive Timeline. I believe this app could be used as a learning resource in a several different educational contexts. Students of visual design could analyse the app as a particularly fine example of a digital text whereas students of music history could learn about the various genres of jazz whilst listening to the music from each particular genre. I’m imagining a professional educator starting a tutorial by introducing his or her students to a genre of jazz by opening The History of Jazz on his or her iPad and playing some of the YouTube videos whilst projecting what he or she is doing onto a large screen. This activity could then lead into a discussion about the history of that particular genre of jazz music.
I’ve been a digital convert for many years. I don’t remember when I bought my first Kindle but I guess it must have been around the same time I made my first purchase on the Amazon website which was in July 2010. Anyhow, since then I’ve bought and consumed a large number of digital texts from the Amazon website. In fact, according to Amazon, I’ve purchased 10 ebooks in just the past six months. I hate to think how much money I’ve spent buying digital texts over the last five years.
As a bit of a greenie, I decided to buy a Kindle because I wanted to reduce my carbon footprint. Instead of buying printed texts which are labour intensive I wanted to save the world by buying digital texts where possible. I must admit, I found changing over from print to digital very easy.
Alexander, B. (2011). The New Digital Storytelling: Creating Narratives with New Media. ABC-CLIO.
Amped, Inc. (2011). The History of Jazz: An Interactive Timeline (Version 2.1) [Mobile application software]. Retrieved from https://itunes.apple.com/
Gannes, L. (January 12, 2011). 955 Dreams Jazzes Up iPad With Interactive Music History App http://allthingsd.com/20110112/955-dreams-the-ipad-gets-jazzed-up/
HAAB Entertainment. (2014, March 24). SHERLOCK: Interactive Adventure. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/sgx3p_sYuEw
HAAB Entertainment. (2015). SHERLOCK: Interactive Adventure (Version 1.6) [Mobile application software]. Retrieved from https://itunes.apple.com/
Push Pop Press. (2011). Al Gore – Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis (Version 1.0.4) [Mobile application software]. Retrieved from https://itunes.apple.com/
Leu, D.J. et al (2011). The new literacies of online reading comprehension: Expanding the literacy and learning curriculum. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(1), 5-14. doi: 10.1598/JAAL.55.1.1
Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment (Ch. 13). In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA). https://www.csu.edu.au/division/library/ereserve/pdf/walsh-m3.pdf
Yokota, J. & Teale, W. H. (2014). Picture books and the digital world: educators making informed choices. The Reading Teacher, 34(6). Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/3886534/Picture_Books_and_the_Digital_World_Educators_ Making_Informed_Choices