Marlene Asselin, Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia
Allan Bell, Director, Library Digital Initiatives, University of British Columbia
Luanne Freund, iSchool, University of British Columbia
Janet Giltrow, Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of British Columbia
Richard Kopak, iSchool, University of British Columbia
Eric Meyers, iSchool, University of British Columbia
Heather O’Brien, iSchool, University of British Columbia
Edie Rasmussen, iSchool, University of British Columbia
Judith Saltman, iSchool, University of British Columbia

With the advent of high quality and widely available mobile reading devices, the dominance of print as the preferred medium for reading is giving way to the digital. While familiar print genres persist in digital forms: e-books and online magazines and newspapers, such digital cousins have dynamic, interactive and collaborative affordances that fundamentally change the nature of the reading experience. Digital reading tends to be faster, broader and shallower, as readers skip and jump through interconnected texts and media objects in a form of hyper-reading. The nature and implications of these changes in reading behaviour are profound and cut across many academic disciplines, including education, information science, literary studies, and journalism. Recent developments in brain science, popularized through books such as Nicholas Carr's The Shallows and Maryanne Wolf's Proust and the Squid suggest that the shift to digital reading will have long term effects on cognition and the very structure of the brain. More than simply representing a novel modality and new cultural norms for reading, digital reading may move us towards dramatically different ways of thinking and learning.

This symposium will bring together researchers and students from a range of disciplines within the University of British Columbia and the surrounding area to discuss the phenomenon of reading digital from diverse social, cultural, physical, intellectual, material and technological perspectives. Some of the questions we plan to address are:
  • How do readers interact with and experience digital texts?
  • What are the effects of the material and virtual environment in which reading takes place?
  • What are the potential advantages and opportunities of digital reading, and what are the weaknesses? How do texts function in digital environments?
  • How might the practices of teaching, communicating and working with texts in academic contexts need to change to accommodate the shift to digital reading?
An exhibit of artifacts entitled: “Scrolling through Time: the evolution of reading devices”, organized by the SLAIS Digital Information Interaction Group (DiiG), and curated by SLAIS MLIS student Chelsea Shriver, will be presented as part of the symposium.