When reading Networked this week, I was thinking about many of the points they brought up. Some of which I agree with, others that left me wondering. The first point that the chapter mentioned was the idea of linking within digital text as opposed to the limited text features available in print media. I thought about my own online writing and realized how intuitive it is to add a link to something I’m writing. If I’m writing a blog post about a book I read, it makes sense to add a link to the author’s blog or Twitter feed. If I’m reading an article about teachers’ reactions to new legislation, I instinctively scan the page for a link to the original legislation.
Authors Rainie and Wellman referred to this as reading “horizontally” as opposed to reading “vertically”. This was a concept that really stuck with me. When it comes to print media, you read the information on the page. That’s pretty much it. Yet when you go online you follow the additional links, read the comments, click on related news, or go to the author’s own website. You have room to learn more at that moment in time. You can find a topic and branch outward on your own as opposed to being left with only what the author has explicitly told you.
However, I worry about this same idea. The authors mentioned that since we have so much access, we can choose what we want to learn about. By doing so though, are we self-selecting our interests and information? In a way, are we further isolating ourselves by only reading about and viewing that which interests us? It seems that with limited options, you could both be restricted to less information while also being exposed to more variety just due to lack of choice. Digital media has removed added options and thus removed variety.
As Jane mentions in class, the internet (Twitter especially) is like a river of information. You can never expect to see it all. You just have to pull out the pieces of information you can find at the moment. It’s up to us to reach out and research when we are choosing to be informed. On top of the responsibility of being informed we also have the responsibility of being informed and unbiased in our gathering of information. It’s really easy to learn about a topic by researching your favorite side of it. It’s not until you choose to view the other side and see the other perspective that you’re truly informed.