19 April 2016

Interactive reading and beyond - Creating online consensus (and possibly community) one top highlight at a time

I receive a number of emails everyday from various websites that range from teaching innovations and news about higher education to curator services like Pocket.

One article set aside for me in my Pocket reading list was The Reading Habits of Ultra-Successful People on Medium. In this article, the author argued that highly successful people spend a LOT of time reading and that the purpose of their reading was more for learning and inspiration and less for relaxation or entertainment.

While I found this fascinating (apparently Pocket has my interested well-pegged like an overly-informed ex), what struck me were the options for interactive reading and highlighting options.

As I read about how Warren Buffet reads away 80% of his day or that Bill Gates reads a book a week, I noticed that certain sentences, for example links to other articles, research, surveys were hyperlinked for easy access.

But that's old tech.

If you've read online articles lately you'll notice that there are highlighting options. If you decide to highlight a sentence, a phrase or even a word for example on one of Medium's articles (and I'll just use their articles to explore these interesting options), [readers] can select a word, passage, or paragraph to highlight it. From there you can write a response to your followers, the author of the article, or the public in general.

There is also an option for 'top highlight' which are denoted in the article using an asterisk at the end of a sentence. Medium defines a top highlight as a sentence, phrase or word has been highlighted by a lot of people.

And don't forget about the ways in which you can link these articles to other social media feeds, for example, text shots are a way to integrate the Medium reading experience into your Twitter network. Highlight some text and click on the Twitter bird icon in the highlight toolbar to create a text shot that will be sent to your Twitter account.

Finally, there is an option to privately contact the author of the article with a 'private note' (ingeniously simple name ;). This setting works IF the author has enabled private notes in their settings page, a pop-up editor will appear for you to leave a message for the original author which will not be made public.

What I think might be interesting in a classroom is to ask questions about community-building on the internet, the new ways of sharing information to others, the process and infrastructure of interaction online, and how these features affect knowledge creation. One burning question for me would be: what would a top highlight do for you as a reader that a simple highlight would not?