Today, reading is considered an essential skill and is used primarily to communicate information. However, the majority of people were mostly illiterate until the 1800s, generally only being able to read the Bible, an almanac, and perhaps a few other works. After a few years, books became much more popular for educational and personal purposes, and it became a widespread activity and hobby. Books started with primitive types of paper such as papyrus and parchment, and eventually evolved into pages of paper bound by covers. People have been reading this form of books for years now, but as our technology has begin to advance, so has the idea of reading. After the creation of smart devices, the Amazon Kindle was released, an e-reading device meant only for reading. It aimed to tap into the large market of books, and was received quite well by buyers and critics. It boasted the allowance of holding thousands of books in one slim device, and thus became extremely popular. Smartphones and other devices were also very popular during this time, and generally also offered a way to read. Apple’s iPad especially was often used for reading, as it contained an iBook application as well as other apps for reading available to download. The iPad can be used for much more than just reading, and many users found it convenient to be able to access many functions in one device. Although these objects display growing technology, they are all still very popular today as methods of reading.

My collection, consisting of a book, an Amazon Kindle, and an iPad, demonstrates the growth of technology by displaying the various ways in which written works are now able to be viewed. Not only does each object continue to serve a real purpose by allowing its observers to read, they also serve as somewhat of an artifact, representing a greater cultural significance as well as the history of the action of reading. Regardless of this, all of the objects are ordinary objects, which relates them to Christine Davenne’s idea of a “commonplace” collection, which consists of regular items whose meanings are more hidden or personal to the collector. No one would find a book, a Kindle, and an iPad to be outwardly significant, but they have meaning nonetheless. In Krzysztof Pomian’s work, he defined a collection as a “set” of objects that are protected and kept for the sole purpose of being put on display. The objects in my collection serve more of a purpose than the hypothetical objects in Pomian’s definition of a collection, and instead exist as a group of items used for the same purpose, that when put together reveal a societal impact and a greater history of reading. 

The directing of attention varies with each item. The book and the Kindle can only be used for reading, so the user’s focus is solely on that one purpose. The iPad, on the other hand, can be used for many things, which may divert the attention of the user and lead them to utilize other functions rather than just reading. For the action of reading itself though, one must commit their full attention in order to read successfully, so this applies to all three objects. 

Media can be given a very open-ended definition; to me it can be any form of communication, which can include essentially anything that conveys some sort of meaning to the observer. My collection shows three different ways of viewing one type of media, which is written work. Written works communicate to the observer through their reading, and expresses the book’s messages. Through my collection, the ever changing nature of technology and its impact on media is illustrated, as it shows how the action of reading has been developed to be more accessible throughout the years. 

This collection relates to techniques of the observer, as it includes three different methods an observer may choose to complete the same action, which is reading. The difference in each item leads to a different experience of the user; for example, it can affect where the item is being used, and for how long. A book’s use is limited; one can only read it for so long until they finish the book. The Kindle and the iPad do not have this limitation, but are restricted by battery life. The battery life of the iPad tends to be shorter than the Kindle’s when being used for reading, which leaves the Kindle as the item in my collection which can be used the longest. Additionally, one usually wouldn’t use an iPad to read outside, as the screen would be difficult to see; but this is not an issue with the book and the Kindle. All of these differences may affect which technique the observer may choose, and affords them more choice. Additionally, these objects represent a connection between the visible and the invisible. All of the items continue to be functional and useful, and are visible objects that communicate visible meanings. However, in the context of the collection, they serve to represent an invisible greater meaning. Although all three objects are still used as very prevalent methods of reading, they also convey a history, and a timeline of reading technologies. 

All three of these items can be used for reading, although their uses and the purposes differ. Books and Kindles only function as methods of reading, and iPads and Kindles both utilize a screen. All three objects offer a large variety in choice of written works, which can be used for several purposes such as education and recreation. The Kindle and the iPad provide the benefit of being able to change the font and text size, are much lighter than books generally are, and eliminate the use of paper in making books. These are some of the causes for the rising popularity of e-readers, and the slight decline in sales of written books. Still, many people continue to choose written and bound books for the sake of the “feeling” it gives; people often prefer what they are used to and are not always apt to change. This is especially true as books hold some significance for many people, perhaps reminding them of their childhood or their love of reading. This demonstrates one of the deeper, invisible significances behind the book. 

Having these three items in one collection results in a comparison of their shared use. It incites the question of which item is the best method for this shared purpose, and highlights the differences and similarities between all of them. Separately, they are all just methods of reading, but together they constitute a history of reading and a display of technology.  It would be possible to add other items to the collections, such as other e-readers and other tablets or smartphones. However, I think these items may have too many similarities with the items already in the collection, so I believe they wouldn’t add much of a new perspective or comparison. The use of a smartphone or tablet for reading would be very similar to the use of an iPad, and the use of a different e-reader would be very similar to the use of the Amazon Kindle.

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Book: Books are defined as written works printed on pages that are bound in covers. The earliest books came in the form of scrolls and papyrus, and then parchment. The invention of the printing press led to the mass manufacturing and wide distribution of books, and they became much more essential for educational purposes. Today, there are millions of books in existence with varying content, giving people many options on what to read. People today use books for many purposes, including education, knowledge, and pleasure. With the advancement of technology resulting in the creation of e-books, many believe that there will be a “death of books,” but generally printed books have been enduring as a popular commodity.  

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Amazon Kindle: The Amazon Kindle is an e-reader created by Amazon, which allows the purchase and download of e-books. It is similar to other tablets such as the iPad, but it only has one function. This was in order to minimize distractions and keep the focus on reading. There have been many generations of the kindle, and the release of an adapter that allows people to hear the e-books out loud. The Kindle also has applications available for download on other devices, such as phones and tablets. In 2011, it was announced that the Kindles were outselling real books on Amazon, displaying the general success of the item. 

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iPad: The iPad was designed to be a tablet computer, which includes a multi-touch screen and allows for usage similar to an iphone. It was meant to be an easy to use “computer in a book.” It has many more functions than just the ability to read. It offers easy use and better graphics than the Kindle, with color and sound. The iPad has several e-book stores, which allows for more choice. It is also popular for educational use, as you can take notes on the iPad while reading. The iPad also offers the downloading of other apps that can be used for reading, and offer more variety than just the iBooks app or the Kindle.