Caitlin Jeffery

Exploring the depths of digital literature

There is An App For That

on January 20, 2013

I appreciate what the Wasteland app has to offer and how it expands the experience. One can read something, but have a totally different interpretation when someone else reads it. Like in class when Lans read a piece and then we listened to Fiona Shaw, both brought something different to the experience. You can listen to how T.S. Elliot intended for it to be read or how someone else interprets it. The app makes the poem more accessible to a broader audience by bringing readings, critiques, and notes together on one platform. Henry Volan, head of Faber Digital who helped produce the app said in an interview, “You’re already selling your product to a niche of the population – people with iPads – so you have to be as open and general as possible. But The Waste Land proved that being open and general doesn’t mean you have to be dumb, or that you can’t pick something difficult. In fact, we’ve relished the difficulty of the poem. And that’s what we want to do with the follow-up products: explaining, helping and making difficult things accessible.”

My favorite thing about reading The Wasteland on the app is that it does just what Volan said, explains, helps, and makes this poem accessible. I love the the define feature, it is what I like most about my Kindle too. Often you just assume what a word means instead of searching out the definition. The definition and origin of a word is super helpful in taking things away from just being literal. I also like the notes, especially the translation, but at the same time I dislike them. There are moments they help you figure things out, but at others take away your interpretation of what you read. For me a piece of literature is both a mix of an author’s intent and how a reader processes it. Bringing your own story into what you read can definitely enrich the experience and I love that one line could have five different meanings depending who you ask. I have yet to play with the perspectives feature, but am interested in how others may view the work and how it compares to my own analysis. What this app does is tell you there is more than one way to see this work, gives you the tools to see what other’s experiences, are and it makes this very difficult poem easier to grasp. Not every poem can have a LolCat translation.

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