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July 7, 2010

Books and Screens

Books were good at developing a contemplative mind. Screens encourage more utilitarian thinking.

A new idea or unfamiliar fact will provoke a reflex to do something: to research the term, to query your screen “friends” for their opinions, to find alternative views, to create a bookmark, to interact with or tweet the thing rather than simply contemplate it. Book reading strengthened our analytical skills, encouraging us to pursue an observation all the way down to the footnote. Screen reading encourages rapid pattern-making, associating this idea with another, equipping us to deal with the thousands of new thoughts expressed every day. The screen rewards, and nurtures, thinking in real time. We review a movie while we watch it, we come up with an obscure fact in the middle of an argument, we read the owner’s manual of a gadget we spy in a store before we purchase it rather than after we get home and discover that it can’t do what we need it to do. -- Kevin Kelly, Reading in a Whole New Way Smithsonian Magazine

Posted by Vanderleun at July 7, 2010 7:54 PM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

Close reading has always encouraged one to act on the words of a book: to take notes, scribble in margins, underline important points, etc.

And how on earth can anyone read without seeking patterns? Never mind nonfiction, even; fiction teaches you things, exposes you to new ideas and new viewpoints, and you obviously are going to respond mentally. I suppose you could quibble, and claim that if you're immersed in the story you're not thinking but "contemplating". But of course you are. That's how you manage to immerse yourself, isn't it?

I can see what the author means to say, but what he says is not that. It's nonsense.

Posted by: Maureen at July 8, 2010 6:40 PM