Why I think we should follow the snail rather than the hare
November 27, 2010
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If you’re reading this now – yes you! The chances are, you might not even finish one tenth of it. At least, those are the combined findings from a pair of recent research projects – respectively, the Poynter Institute’s Eyetrack survey, and analysis by Jakob Nielsen – which both suggest that many of us no longer have the ability to sustain the focus needed for the reading habit.
The problem doesn’t just stop there: Universities from Maine to Manchester all report that we are becoming less attentive book-readers – don’t believe me, then check this out recently revealed that he has had to shorten his students’ reading list, and if that didn’t convince you, try this bemused by junior colleagues who analyse sources with a search engine.
So are we getting dumbed down by the internet? Well that’s what the author of The Shallows, Nicholas Carr seems to think – according to his book, our online habits are literally rewirring our brains and changing the way we think – these days instead of processing lengthy textual information systematically – what we do is assemble information rough shod, hyperlinking from one article to the next – without necessarily engaging fully with any of the content; our reading is frequently interrupted by the ping of the latest email; and we are now absorbing short bursts of words on Twitter and Facebook more regularly than longer texts – somewhere in all this, it simply means – although the internet is salvation; it has also been perdition; since we have become very good at collecting a wide range of factual titbits at such an imaginable speed, range and breadth, we are also gradually forgetting how to appreciate it’s depth, scope and relating all these facts to each other – in this respect, the advent of the internet may have empowered us with information; but it is doubtful that it has added much to the ideal of humanity.(the remainder of this essay has been withdrawn from general circulation due to Measured Response)