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Welcome to Musings – The Loom Room Blog

1 October, 2014

Technology v Longhand – Either/Or or Both? Reading, writing and weaving

Filed under: Art,Education,Life,Philosophy,Teaching,Travel,Weaving — admin @ 11:15 am

Today I chanced across a post on my Facebook feed.  I don’t usually spend much time on Facebook, but this one article caught my eye and I read further….  http://mic.com/articles/99408/science-has-great-news-for-people-who-read-actual-books

I have always had a reluctance to use e-readers, although I have one.  Wherever possible, I much prefer to pick up a physical book.  I could never put my finger on it, but especially when doing research reading for my masters, I found myself unable to concentrate if reading text on an e-reader.  At the end of the piece, I wouldn’t have understood it and would have to read it again and again.  It frustrated me that I couldn’t turn page corners down to emphasize where I had found an interesting point, although I could highlight text, but finding the text again wasn’t so easy, especially if I was carrying several trains of thought in my head at the same time.

Then, once I had ‘liked’ that article, several others popped up underneath the original one.  This time there were three other links to articles that drew me in. The first one was about writing  ….  http://mic.com/articles/98348/science-shows-writers-have-a-serious-advantage-over-the-rest-of-us

I am a diary girl.  It helps me to keep track of ideas, emotions, events in my currently rollercoaster life, and it also helps me to gain a sense of perspective on my own and others’ actions.  It started a few years ago, proved its value during my masters journey, helped me to keep a memory of places visited on my trips, and now is a way to help me keep track of what I’ve done, upcoming deadlines, and a memory jogger as my own memory is having serious issues!  I know memory is highly subjective anyway, and we only keep a memory of how we view something, and that that memory is subject to change, but I am very aware that my imagination interferes with my memory and I cannot always rely on remembering something accurately.  This is incredibly frustrating and I hate not being able to trust my memory.  So the journal is a vital tool in holding on to my emotions and reflections of events, places and people at the time.  Of course, journals can be manipulated as we write them and most people writing a journal on a computer undo sentences and rewrite.  It is easy to do, and can allow streams of consciousness writing which are then re-written.  In a physical journal, if you don’t want to end up with phrases crossed out, you are required to construct the sentence and therefore the slant in your head prior to committing it to the paper.  I know that my own emotional issues have been helped by writing them out both on paper and in an e-diary.  Curiously, I findthat I tend to get more emotionally involved in my writing if I am writing in a physical diary, and to stay with the emotions longer – not always a good thing.  Writing emotionally on the keyboard is not so immersive and reading back my writing on the laptop has a distancing effect, as if I am reading someone else’s writing.  This can have value, especially if the emotions you are expressing are not positive ones.

The next article seemed to bear out my own thinking  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/  and led on to another article that seemed to encapsulate my own experience when note-taking in tutorials/lectures at university during my masters….. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-learning-secret-don-t-take-notes-with-a-laptop/

I had done both methods and totally related to mindless typing of verbatim discussions, missing the wood for the trees in a discussion and wondering what had just happened when the session was finished.  After a few ‘typed’ sessions, I reverted to hand-written notes and understood far more from patchier notes.  It also struck me that court recorders might have to disengage with the content of what they are recording in order to distance the mind to focus on the taking down of accurate records.  Theirs has to be verbatim notes but if they actually thought about the content, would their emotions have an impact on their efficiency of record taking?  I’d love to hear from a court recorder about how they work.

This got me thinking about how we learn in weaving.  I am currently studying Marian Stubenitsky’s book ‘Echo & Iris’.  I struggle with learning something new.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it usually takes me about 3 weeks to process a visiting tutor’s weaving workshop.  I just have to stay with the discomfort of not knowing what people are talking about or understanding the fundamentals of a new technique and suddenly it will ‘click’.  When working through a book, I read the information, weave the samples, and then analyse the physical weaving.  When teaching drafting, I do not allow my students to start off with the computer.  Even if they have the weaving software, I encourage them to do the drawdown with pencil and squared paper.  Why?  Because in the slow process of physically drafting by hand, their brains can assimilate the visual knowledge and turn it into comprehension of the relationship of warp and weft.

I’ve just been weaving 8S versions of some of Marian’s samples.  It took me a while to realize that I work better with Bonnie Inouye’s method of tie-up and to change Marian’s tie-ups into a Bonnie-method.  Then suddenly I could see what the two sides were supposed to be doing.  I could then work out how I wanted to adapt the liftplans to give me the results I was looking for.  During the writing of this blog, I have had a sudden ‘click’ moment about how to get the effects I am wanting to achieve but I am going to go back to the software to check if my thinking will actually work before I weave it.  I am able to do that because I know what I am looking for, but if I didn’t, I would go back to drafting longhand to understand the principles before going to the software to develop designs quickly (relatively speaking!).

What am I trying to say here, in my long-winded way?  I think that technology in reading, writing and weaving is very useful, can be time-saving, can also allow for weaving experimentation in a way that old-fashioned drafting precludes by its very ease of use, but that comprehension is required before that experimentation can occur and for me, longhand drafting can aid in that comprehension in a way that technology cannot provide.  It’s very interesting to read (electronically) the four articles looking at how digital reading and writing can impact on our memory and comprehension and to note that it would have been very probable that someone like me would not have had access to this kind of material prior to digital technology.  The dissemination of information is so wide-spread thanks to technology.

For me, digital technology is wonderful, but not the be-all-and-end-all.  It has its downsides, things I don’t like about it.  I am aware that I stare at the screen whereas I don’t force my eyes when reading a book.  I change my posture lots when reading a physical book, but find myself hunched in one position not having moved for ages when looking at the computer screen.  I now ensure that I switch the computer off for large chunks of my day, and I limit myself to a certain length of time on the computer at a sitting.  Writing this blog and reading the 4 articles have taken up the best part of a morning.  A useful exercise for me, and therefore not time wasted, but I could have been weaving……

Ultimately, the proof of the pudding is in the weaving, and nothing is more effective than sampling to check that not only the weave structure but also the yarns behave in the way that you intend.  Although I am using a table loom for this warp, the work I will develop from it will be woven on a computer-assisted floor loom – a perfect marriage of technology and hand!

Happy Weaving!