Following the 2010 “Future of Reading” Symposium at Rochester Institute of Technology, the School of Print Media was proud to host the 2012 Reading Digital Symposium on April 27th and 28th, in conjunction with the Melbert B Cary, Jr. Professorship, the Cary Graphic Arts Collection, and the Vignelli Center for Design Studies. Fourteen speakers were featured over the two days, with each focusing on a unique aspect of digital reading. With the overwhelming popularity of digital and mobile devices, particularly e-readers, it was interesting to learn the reactions and adaptations from professional creative, scientific, academic, and technical perspectives.

Commencing the weekend’s events, RIT Provost Jeremy Haefner welcomed attendees, along with a cheerful introduction by Professor Charles Bigelow. The first lecture presented by Gordon Legge, “Reading Digital With Low Vision,” was an engaging look at the relationship between print size and readability. The comprehensive report explored the connection between vision science and typography in terms of economics, ergonomics, and technology. This lecture in particular was important to take into consideration as the shift continues from traditional books to e-readers, and how this changes typography for the future of digital reading.

After Friday’s events, type designer and calligrapher Kris Holmes was awarded with the Frederic W. Goudy Award for achievement in typography, followed by a reception in the Cary Collection at the Wallace Center Library. Kris Holmes has made significant contributions to typography, most notably the Lucida family of typefaces co-designed with Professor Charles Bigelow.

Saturday’s lectures continued with enlightening presentations about tablets and e-books. Mario Garcia, Sr., a notable journalist, spoke about the differences between design for digital reading and for print, and what that entails for iPad usability. While this concept is not entirely new, Garcia’s perspective is. Designing for tablets requires designers and media architects to take advantage of the digital navigation qualities and use them to design for the eye, finger, and brain. The intuitive navigation and usability is why some people love their tablet, since users who are fully engaged will experience it like getting immersed in a traditional newspaper. Garcia noted that research is pointing towards the conclusion that tablet users are becoming fully engaged in tablets, reinforcing the idea that tablets and reading digital are very much a part of the future of reading.

The Reading Digital Symposium was a great opportunity for students, faculty, and industry professionals to learn about different aspects of digital reading. I am glad I was able to attend the outstanding lectures from the distinguished guests, and I encourage students to attend events like this in the future.