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Discussions from Digital Humanities

A response to My Acts of Reading by Andrew Prescott.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Prescott’s experience is similar to my own in that I found the purpose of newspapers for me has changed. On weekdays I also get my news through apps but the joy of a Sunday paper on a lazy day, something about pulling out and unfolding the supplements and draping over it all, right down to the crosswords just can’t be replicated by an online edition. 

As a child I had also had an insatiable thirst for books and I would beg and plead for trips to the library. 

Later, I would pour over piles on the library desks for hours, photocopying, highlighting and drawing arrows and notes as I read.

Prescott’s comments about the default mode of searching being turned on its head struck a chord with me. Now that articles, journals and ebooks are so conveniently available online I find myself gathering them without ever fully reading them in some cases. My skim-reading has increased, and I would often first search for keywords within the article to see if it really does cover what I am looking for before diving in. If it is only incidental to the topic I might do without reading it fully, where in the past I would have read from start to finish anyway.

When I do fully read online articles, I make notes in a google docs file, pasting in quotes and marking them up. This form of note taking isn’t half as engaging or effective as my old ‘scribble on a photocopy and put in a binder’ technique. It is much less versatile when you return to it too, but it is a lot quicker, and the volume of reading I can cover is larger. 

Lately, I have been trying out different methods of note-taking, from annotating pdfs using Adobe reader to mindmapping, hoping to find the right fit.


Prescott, Andrew (Sep 23, 2015 ) ‘My Acts of Reading’. Digital Riffs, Medium. Available at: (Accessed: 13 December 2021).