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Learning from Mistakes

Through out this reading I kept thinking about the idea of readers performing the words to themselves. I couldn’t help but think about the different tones and attitudes individuals read things to themselves with. Reading truly is the middle ground between words and the brain. My thoughts were confirmed into more scientific language when SpecLab defined text as “a field of potentialities, within which a reading intervened” (20). With such a broad range of people, personalities, and mentalities reading the same work interpretation is certainly open to error. As we talked about one day in class, some of the best insight can be gained from mistakes, errors, and failures. This week I was reminded of that truth again when I came across the lines, “Collective errors of judgment constitute the history of human cultures, and when the scale at which these can be institutionalized is expanded by electronic communications and computational processing, what is at stake seems highly significant” (17). While the authors are talking about much larger errors in this case, they also admit that they can happen on “a smaller scale” as well (17).

I’ve have been taking a computer programming class and we are currently studying the availability and usability of websites. Basically ways to narrow the misinterpretation of your website. The best way to cut down own your website being visually confusing is to follow the C.R.A.P. principle, which stands for Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity. Contrast in this sense is about being able to read the words on the page without difficulty, do to too similar of colors. Repetition is about how a person should stick to one theme and repeat it or else users will get confused by ambiguous fonts. Alignment and Proximity both refer to the way text and pictures are actually situated on the webpage. While CRAP is actually used to make websites better I think it is applicable here as well.

As talked about in the paper electronic communication is certainly open to error. Although the authors warn against this, some guidelines for creating more effective and less ambiguous texts are appropriate. SpecLab talks about the short comings of ASCII text yet the strengths are obvious as well. It provides a template for all human interaction with words on the screen. This allows for less misinterpretation.

I once heard a joke that said, “If texting and AIM have taught me anything, its that there is no font for sarcasm.” On the computer this is even more true as images and words can be rapidly presented and interpretation can easily be misconstrued. My point is that while text can be sterile, and complete institutionalization of it can even be dangerous, some guidelines for availability and usability are important when presenting material. Measures for misinterpretation are even more important on the monitor then in the book.

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