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[LINK] “Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds”

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Alison Flood’s article in The Guardian about the apparent issues associated with reading ereaders resonated with me, as it did with people around the world. I generally prefer reading from books to reading online, having noticed the same comprehension and retention issues in my own reading.

I wonder what the consequences will be in the future, when so much more reading material is only going to be online. Will ereaders technology advance enough?

The study, presented in Italy at a conference last month and set to be published as a paper, gave 50 readers the same short story by Elizabeth George to read. Half read the 28-page story on a Kindle, and half in a paperback, with readers then tested on aspects of the story including objects, characters and settings.

Anne Mangen of Norway’s Stavanger University, a lead researcher on the study, thought academics might “find differences in the immersion facilitated by the device, in emotional responses” to the story. Her predictions were based on an earlier study comparing reading an upsetting short story on paper and on iPad. “In this study, we found that paper readers did report higher on measures having to do with empathy and transportation and immersion, and narrative coherence, than iPad readers,” said Mangen.

But instead, the performance was largely similar, except when it came to the timing of events in the story. “The Kindle readers performed significantly worse on the plot reconstruction measure, ie, when they were asked to place 14 events in the correct order.”

The researchers suggest that “the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does”.

“When you read on paper you can sense with your fingers a pile of pages on the left growing, and shrinking on the right,” said Mangen. “You have the tactile sense of progress, in addition to the visual … [The differences for Kindle readers] might have something to do with the fact that the fixity of a text on paper, and this very gradual unfolding of paper as you progress through a story, is some kind of sensory offload, supporting the visual sense of progress when you’re reading. Perhaps this somehow aids the reader, providing more fixity and solidity to the reader’s sense of unfolding and progress of the text, and hence the story.”

Written by Randy McDonald

August 22, 2014 at 8:14 pm

[LINK] “The First Gay Space on the Internet”

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David Auerbach‘s Slate article on the USENET group soc.motss is a delight. I’m a participant in the Facebook group founded by many of the group’s long-time participants, and I myself have fond memories of USENET (soc.history.what-if, mainly). It’s a delight to see USENET get the attention it deserves.

(This article is the first in a series. There’s more stuff coming.)

I grew up in a time and place—the Los Angeles suburbs of the 1980s—where LGBTQ culture was pretty much invisible in everyday life. The first out people I met were online. In fact, LGBTQ culture played a significant, though underreported, part in shaping the overall online culture. Since the early 1980s, there have been many LGBTQ spaces on the Net: newsgroups, bulletin board systems, or BBSs, mailing lists, social networks, chat rooms, and websites. But the very first LGBTQ Internet space, as far as I’ve been able to find, was the soc.motss newsgroup. And it hosted conversations that had never been seen before online—and that arguably remain in too short supply even today. (I’ll be frequently using “LGBTQ” as the best available catchall term, with the awareness that categories and nomenclature have gone through many evolutions since the early 1980s.)

In 1983 programmer Steve Dyer started a discussion forum called net.motss (later soc.motss) on the Usenet newsgroup system. Built in 1980 atop pre-Internet networks such as ARPANET and BITNET, Usenet allowed for creation of hierarchical categories of interest groups (comp.lang.java.help, rec.arts.books, etc.) and public threaded discussions within each group, in much the same way forums and comments work today. The abbreviation “motss” stood for “members of the same sex,” an unflashy acronym that would make it less of a potential target for censorship. University of Colorado–Boulder professor Amy Goodloe, who went on to start many lesbian Usenet groups as well as found and run lesbian.org in 1995, calls soc.motss the first explicitly LGBTQ newsgroup—and possibly the first explicitly LGBTQ international space of any kind.

And it was a prominent space: By the early 1990s, motss member and software engineer Brian Reid estimated that about 3 percent of all Usenet readers were reading soc.motss, which was an audience of about 83,000 people. (For comparison, 8 percent were reading the perennially popular alt.sex.)

Dyer, who died in 2010, was a Unix hacker who worked at BBN before becoming a private consultant. In the very first motss post on Oct. 7, 1983, Dyer set out the newsgroup’s aims: “to foster discussion on a wide variety of topics, such as health problems, parenting, relationships, clearances, job security and many others.” Dyer stressed that the forum would provide “a supportive environment” for gay USENET members: “Net.motss is emphatically NOT a newsgroup for the discussion of whether homosexuality is good or bad, natural or unnatural. Nor is it a place where conduct unsuitable for the net will be allowed or condoned.”

According to engineer Nelson Minar, who was active on soc.motss in the early 1990s, newsgroups of the 1980s and ’90s tended to have a slower pace of discussion. A day could pass before someone replied to a thread, and responses were frequently closer to mini-essays than short comments. That sort of belles-lettristic group dialogue allowed for a deeply nuanced and intellectual discussion of gay and lesbian issues.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 22, 2014 at 2:00 am

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO lists five classic Toronto signs at risk of disappearing.
  • Centauri Dreams discusses plans for really, really big telescope arrays.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that young star HD 169142 appears to be forming both a brown dwarf and its own planetary system.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on the use of a laser by the US Navy to accelerate a projectile to speeds of one thousand kilometres a second.
  • Far Outliers’ Joel reports on the last major uprising of the Ainu against the Japanese, in 1789.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a report from some American homophobes claiming that lesbians, owing to their left-wing ideological commitments, are a big threat than gay men.
  • Language Log examines a sign blending Mandarin and Cantonese.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a news report suggesting readers absorb less from online reading than they do from paper.
  • Peter Rukavina maps his travels over the summer.
  • Spacing Toronto notes concerns over the cost of the high-speed rail connection to Pearson airport.
  • Torontoist notes Rob Ford’s newest conflict of interest allegations.
  • Towleroad talks about Luxembourg’s openly gay prime minister, set to marry his partner.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes problems regarding the protection of eagles and religious freedom issues regarding holding eagle feathers for religious reasons.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on claims by activists that Russia must federalize or disintegrate.

[NEWS] Some Saturday links

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  • Al Jazeera America argues that depending on cars will hurt Newark’s urban renaissance, notes the emerging Indian-Israeli alliance and the import of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in sectarian communities in Northern Ireland, looks at the slowly reviving film industry of Côte d’Ivoire, chronicles the human rights issues of LGB Ukrainians and of Christian sects in the Caucasus, examines the legacies of German immigration in Brazil, and looks at the shantytowns of Mongolia.
  • Al Jazeera examines Russia’s Eurasianism, notes emergent water shortages in Syria, looks at the reaction of Sephardic Jews to a new Spanish citizenship law that would give them access to Spain, and chronicles the persecution of the Ahmadiyya in Pakistan.
  • Bloomberg notes that sanctions on Russia may hurt the Greek economy, notes the collapse in wages for young people in southern Europe, and looks at Germany’s serious impending demographic issues.
  • BusinessWeek looks at Tinder’s shabby treatment of a female co-founder, examines the stagnant economy of Thailand, looks at hospitals which mine credit card data to predict their future patients.
  • CBC notes with disappearance of anonymous public WiFi in Russia, takes a look at the consequences of the shutdown of the McCain potato processing plant in Borden-Carleton, points out the ongoing collapse of a caribou herd on the Québec-Labrador border, shows the sad toll of the Air Algérie plane crash in Québec, and notes that Vancouver’s aquarium can no longer breed cetaceans.
  • Global News looks at the impact of Air Algérie’s disaster in Montreal.
  • MacLean’s suggests Canada is not immune to an American-style housing crash, argues that the Canadian job market is weaker than it appears, and reports on the claims that restrictive American immigration policies could work to the benefit of Canada.
  • National Geographic notes some surprisingly social cephalopod populations and looks at naming ceremonies for some gorillas in Rwanda.
  • NPR reports that some big data firms claim Snowden’s data release has given terrorists ideas as to how they can be quieter, and notes some Ivoirien cacao farmers who taste
  • The New York Times notes the closure of an Upper East Side restaurant priced out by rising rents.
  • Reuters observes the worsening demographics of Italy.
  • Transitions Online takes a small-scale look on the effects of emigration in Uzbekistan.
  • Universe Today looks at how some Martian canyons were formed by different water releases.
  • Xinhua notes how emigration from Portugal has become mainstream.

[PHOTO] Island Tel pay phone, Cavendish Boardwalk

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Island Tel pay phone,  Cavendish Boardwalk  #princeedwardisland #pei #cavendish #telephones #islandtel #payphone

I was very surprised to see on the Cavendish Boardwalk last month a pay phone with the insignia of Island Telecom. Since amalgamated into Bell Aliant, Island Tel was effectively the local telecommunications monopoly on the Island since 1885. (Dave Hunter’s history of the telephone on Prince Edward Island is worth reading.) Previously, I mentioned it here when I linked Peter Rukavina’s post on the early days of the Internet on Prince Edward Island.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 16, 2014 at 6:14 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO shares vintage postcard images of Toronto in the 1970s.
  • Centauri Dreams notes a proposed method for detecting exomoons, by detecting the disruptions that they cause in their parent worlds’ magnetic fields on the pattern of Io’s disruption of Jupiter’s magnetic fields.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes a new paper suggesting that Enceladus’ geysers are caused by its tides with Saturn.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at what sociology has to say about sibling relationships.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that some American conservstives think gays should oppose immigration because immigrants bring tuberculosis which kills HIV-positive people.
  • Languages of the World’s Asya Perelstvaig demonstrates that there is no evidence at all that Yiddish descends from the Turkic Khazarian language, noting instead arguments for a Germanic origin.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog maps population change in Estonia over 1989-2011, noting that there has been population growth only in the metropolitan areas of three Estonian cities with Russian-majority Narva not seeing growth.
  • At Savage Minds, Uzma Z. Rizvi thinks about racism in the United States over time.
  • The Search interviews online anthropologist Robert Kozinets.
  • Spacing Toronto notes that Toronto saw the invention of the first arcade game.
  • Strange Maps shares an interactive infographic tracing the cross-border electricity trade in the European Union.
  • Towleroad notes a fatal gay-bashing in San Francisco and the near-murder of an Azerbaijani teen by parents who wanted to burn him alive.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes an American court ruling refusing to enforce a Moroccan court judgement on the grounds of the Moroccan legal system’s corruption.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that support for federalism is spreading in Russia, notes one analyst’s argument that Russia can become a beacon of reactionary conservative ideology, and suggests that Russia is trying to nudge outside powers out of the Armenia-Azerbaijan dispute.

[BLOG] Some Canada-related links

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  • James Bow celebrates his fourth published novel.
  • blogTO celebrates WiFi in Bay station and shares old pictures of the Junction.
  • Speed River Journal’s Van Waffle examines the question of what caused new pollution in Lake Erie.
  • Spacing Toronto examines again the controversy over a billboard apparently unauthorized at Bathuest and Davenport.
  • Torontoist links to a project mapping specific songs to specific places on the map of Toronto, observes after Cheri DiNovo turmoil in the post-election Ontario NDP, and notes Dr. Barnardo’s Home Children as well as the complex life of possibly-lesbian Mazo de la Roche.
  • Transit Toronto’s James Bow approves of Steve Munro’s post suggesting that underfunding and neglect will soon cause serious harm to the TTC and its riders.
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