[L]ike so many other teenagers, Nadia, 15, is addicted to the Internet. She regularly spends at least six hours a day in front of the computer...But I'm not your mom. I'm reading on line all the time too. If 6 hours counts as "addicted," then I'm so addicted. I spend a fair amount of time wondering if I read all the time or not reading much at all.
Her mother, Deborah Konyk, would prefer that Nadia, who gets A’s and B’s at school, read books for a change. But at this point, Ms. Konyk said, “I’m just pleased that she reads something anymore.”
Children like Nadia lie at the heart of a passionate debate about just what it means to read in the digital age....Thanks for reading my blog... I mean... having some engagement with my text.
At least since the invention of television, critics have warned that electronic media would destroy reading. What is different now, some literacy experts say, is that spending time on the Web, whether it is looking up something on Google or even britneyspears.org, entails some engagement with text....
Clearly, reading in print and on the Internet are different. On paper, text has a predetermined beginning, middle and end, where readers focus for a sustained period on one author’s vision.Oh, really? You can't flip around in a book? Read part of one book, put it down, pick up another, run over to the dictionary, pick up a notebook and write a few sentences, check the index, go to another page, write some marginalia? What a lame-ass book-reader you are!
And, damn, I hate these book-proponents who think what is so superior about books is that they control you in a linear fashion. The fact is they don't. Only movies do that. If you want to train us to have sustained, linear attention, make us go to the movies. But why is it good for us to be controlled by an author like that? Let's be free and active.
On the Internet, readers skate through cyberspace at will and, in effect, compose their own beginnings, middles and ends.Horrors! Freedom!
Young people “aren’t as troubled as some of us older folks are by reading that doesn’t go in a line,” said Rand J. Spiro, a professor of educational psychology at Michigan State University who is studying reading practices on the Internet. “That’s a good thing because the world doesn’t go in a line, and the world isn’t organized into separate compartments or chapters.”Spiro's right. And I appreciate the attention to the detail in the phrase "some of us older folks."
“The question is, does it change your brain in some beneficial way?” said Guinevere F. Eden, director of the Center for the Study of Learning at Georgetown University. “The brain is malleable and adapts to its environment. Whatever the pressures are on us to succeed, our brain will try and deal with it.”I definitely think that reading on-line restructures your brain. That may be bad in some ways, but it's got to be good in others. In any case, it's where I am now. I still read books, but I read them differently, for example, I cut to the essence quickly and spring into alert when I detect bullshit. I'm offended by padding, pedantry, and humorlessness. This may cut off some paths to enlightenment for me, but it also saves me a lot of time, and I find some other path.
Some scientists worry that the fractured experience typical of the Internet could rob developing readers of crucial skills. “Reading a book, and taking the time to ruminate and make inferences and engage the imaginational processing, is more cognitively enriching, without doubt, than the short little bits that you might get if you’re into the 30-second digital mode,” said Ken Pugh, a cognitive neuroscientist at Yale who has studied brain scans of children reading.
Web proponents believe that strong readers on the Web may eventually surpass those who rely on books. Reading five Web sites, an op-ed article and a blog post or two, experts say, can be more enriching than reading one book.Indeed.
“It takes a long time to read a 400-page book,” said Mr. Spiro of Michigan State. “In a tenth of the time,” he said, the Internet allows a reader to “cover a lot more of the topic from different points of view.”