Via Pages Turned:

“We are not only what we read,” says Maryanne Wolf, a developmental psychologist at Tufts University and the author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. “We are how we read.” Wolf worries that the style of reading promoted by the Net, a style that puts “efficiency” and “immediacy” above all else, may be weakening our capacity for the kind of deep reading that emerged when an earlier technology, the printing press, made long and complex works of prose commonplace (Is Google Making Us Stupid?)

Readers Comments

  1. There's a line from the Buddhist text, teh Dhammapada, which as much as any few words can, manages to embody something approaching Everything in terms of being alive & truth:

    "O nobly born, let not your mind be distracted."

    In a sense the ethos pushed on us by the mainstream of modernity is the converse of that:

    "O ignobly born, let your mind constantly be distracted."

    It can't simply be reduced to one isolated phenomenon of our technology, like the net, but is a part of the both intrinsic & imposed nature of the ethos of the age as a whole, with technology as instruments for creating unreality, though we're obviously free to alow technology be created for us, rather than us for it.
    I think personally, to use a sporting metaphor, where there are slow twitch & fast twitch muscles, I'm almost automatically on the fast twitch side of awareness when on the net, & perhaps don't even try to read in the manner one does with a book. The deeper aesthetic experience only very uneasily translates to a computer screen.

  2. Internet reading somehow eliminates the possibility of "reflection" - the pausing at a page, making a pencil note in the margin, returning to that paragraph the next time you pick up the book . . . Maybe its not reflection, so much as absorbtion - books enable the text to get under your skin in a way a screen rarely manages.


  3. Nehemiahandblake Monday 23 June 2008

    Rather than merely offering a “flit-ful” type of reading encouraged by the economics of the Googleplex, the hyperlinked text offers a dynamic new type of reading that offers a tangible map of what Carr calls “the intellectual vibrations” that reading “set[s] off within our own minds” so that when “we make our own associations, draw our own inferences and analogies, foster our own ideas” from what we read, there is a trackback available, that allows us to “see” how these mental jumps were made, and provide the basis for a radical reinterpretation of the knowledge that the printed book has given us.

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