As I was reading the Siemens et. al. article “Toward Modeling the Social Edition…” I was initially struck by how much I take the internet and all of the information that it holds for granted. I’ve known for quite a while now that the information does not just appear by itself and that someone, somewhere, was getting paid to create these websites and upload the wealth of information that is now accessible. That being said, I have to admit that I have taken for granted the amount of effort and knowledge that goes into the digitization of literature. I have never been a fan of e-books or online readings and PDFs – I like to hold the tangible item in my hands, I like writing marginalia (which is infinitely easier to produce on a literal piece of paper). The only times I really like digitized literature is when I am doing research for school. I can read items of interest from university libraries that are across Canada or in the US. I can easily further my research with a few clicks of the mouse and a few words typed into a library database.
However the positive attributes of this digital age of scholarly editions are accompanied by negative ones. Siemens et. al. believe that the available tools connected to each digital scholarly edition speed up the process of “academic reading-related tasks” (4) – but do they really? I mean, sure, more/supplementary information is readily available to to reader – links to other websites, definitions, annotations, references used for further reading etc. But this added information strewn throughout the original scholarly edition also interrupts the reading of the original source. The non-linear structure and interaction with the text encourages and perpetuates the A.D.D. mentality of the current generation and has the potential to overwhelm the reader. The reader of this scholarly edition is not necessarily going to be an academic – or at least not a seasoned one. Not to mention that the use and availability of these supplementary sources is never as “seamless” as Siemens et. al. would like to believe. Sites are not always that easy and natural to navigate, which can cause difficulties for the layman – especially if they get drawn too far away from the original text.
The biggest question that has been produced upon my reading of Siemens et. al. is where does one draw the line when inputting the supplementary and additional sources? It is presumable that these digitized scholarly editions are being created for more than just (seasoned) academics. Each text should be available and readable to everyone and anyone – so how does one decide what information the readers should already know (the “common knowledge information” i.e. information that is left unlinked to other sources/definitions/websites/annotations etc.) and the information that the readers will need to know more of (i.e. the extras that are added to this digital edition)?