Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My books are staring back at me.

I know I said the next post would be on Thursday, but I'm sitting here looking at my books for class and I know I have to read.  I love to read, I'm voracious when it comes to books.  Cyberpunk by William Gibson, a bodice ripper/action novel by Sherrilyn Kenyon, even Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations" is sexy stuff.  What I mean by "sexy" is that it's something interesting, something that you really want to read and when you get into it, you just want more!  But, much to my dismay, educational text is rarely ever sexy and I don't believe it ever was meant to be that way.

As I look at my books, I think about the people who wrote them, now to me, I think that whomever decided to sit down and write an educational text had to be pretty passionate about their subject matter.  It takes time, effort and dedication to write a book that people can learn from.  Only problem with that, is that usually the passion that the writer feels about their subject matter is rarely evident.  It gets de-flowered by technical jargon, the fact that you can't make a clear point without offending someone, and simply, it's all academic.  The passion for the material gets sucked out by the sheer mass of information they're trying to pass on.

What is it though about school and mandatory reading that makes a person procrastinate and not do it?  I think it's all in the word "MANDATORY", we're being forced to do it.

I don't think anyone likes to be "forced" to do anything.  I keep telling myself, "what do you do with people who DON'T want to study or read?  You make it juicy and make it into something they voluntarily WANT to do".  The only problem with that, is that simply, educational texts are rarely juicy.  They aren't real "page-turners".  The verbiage is usually dry and is as about exciting as watching paint dry or the equivalent of a popcorn fart.

These days, in the wide world of electronic media, there lies another problem, that the textbooks aren't a flavor of "Instant Information".  It's not the kool-aid powder that you just put in water, stir and then you have a sugar high for an hour.  Books don't work like that.  The internet does though.

In Graphic Design School, we had a neat section that talked about how a person's eyes look at a webpage.  They see the top first, the left hand side second, the right hand side third, the bottom fourth and the middle of the page fifth.  BUT, here's the kicker, if a webpage doesn't load within 8 seconds, or if it loads and the content isn't grabbing and enticing for the viewer to take part in it, most people navigate away from the page.

So, with that in mind, I look at a page out of my school textbooks.  They don't work like the internet.  Now, if we apply the 8 second rule to a textbook, forget it, they've already closed the book, because in 8 seconds there is nothing but dry text, nothing for the eyes to get drawn to except for an endless supply of text that is technical, dry and just plain boring.

So, my task for the day...try to make the text on the page into something I want to read.  To take the dry academia in front of me and make it sexy and juicy.

*sigh*  It's going to be a long day.

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