Marginalia on the Open Web

When we think about all things digital, we usually think about tools. Twitter comes to mind. Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat. We think about Google Docs, and WordPress; and if we’ve been at this awhile, we may think about the languages tools speak, like HTML or markdown or PHP. And if we’re aficionados, our minds might go to indie ed tech solutions, like and Reclaim Hosting.

But the truth is that the digital isn’t about tools at all. The digital is about what happens when human minds meet with an interconnected network of information, resources, and other human minds. Continue reading “Marginalia on the Open Web”

Attention! Multitasking, Mindfulness, and Social Reading

Much has been made of digital culture, of the innovations—and rapidity of those innovations—related to the devices, platforms, applications, and approaches that make up the apparatus of that culture. We are a people of the device these days, working from wherever we are on our phones, our laptops, our tablets. The cloud is the new office. Yet, in her keynote at Digital Pedagogy Lab – Prince Edward Island, blogger and activist Audrey Watters asserted that, in fact, adoption of digital technologies has been slower than the adoption of the technologies upon which it’s built.

Key to her argument is that almost all of the digital has analogues in the analog. We were using telephones before we were using video chat; we were sitting in front of TV screens long before we were streaming movies on our computers. Continue reading “Attention! Multitasking, Mindfulness, and Social Reading”

Welcome to the Margins!

Welcome to Digital Annotation for Learning and Scholarship! This digital learning experience is a brand new (slightly experimental) offering from the Office of Digital Learning at Middlebury College. We’ve partnered with the good folks at to create an online space where participants can both learn and play with digital, social annotation while exploring the theory behind annotation, and its potential application for teaching, learning, and scholarship.

By way of orientation, here’s quick guide for participating in this learning experience: Continue reading “Welcome to the Margins!”

To Read or Not to Read: Digital Texts and Finding Friends

I have never liked reading online. This means a lot, considering that I’ve taught online for many years, and was the managing editor for a successful online journal. As an instructional designer and an employee who works remotely, online text is not only a huge part of my job, but it is also the “classroom” through which I teach. Regardless, I find digital reading to be laborious, and have always preferred the turning of pages to the roll of a mouse wheel.

Anne Mangen, in her interview with Maria Konnikova says that “Reading ‘involves factors not usually acknowledged … The ergonomics, the haptics of the device itself. The tangibility of paper versus the intangibility of something digital.’” And I would agree. I am usually unable to engage the same way with digital text as I do with ink-on-paper text. For one, I think the Internet encourages skimming, and makes deep reading as hard on the soul as it is on the eyes.

Continue reading “To Read or Not to Read: Digital Texts and Finding Friends”