Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Ancient Art of Reading A Book: A Ludicrous Notion, I know

There is a very good article at called 'Is Google Making Us Stupid?'.

It deals with the notion that the Internet and the ability to access so much knowledge on the Internet has changed the way we process information and essentially 'read.' It states that people are more likely to skim-read through page long articles, and jump from web page to web page.

I totally agree with this assertion, but I do believe certain Internet mediums are worse than others. What I mean by this is that the way the content is presented to us has a drastic impact on the way we absorb the information. For instance, if you are reading a web page that has upwards of 20 000 lines of text, it is going to seem never ending to read and assimilate. If you have the same document in a pdf format, where it is broken up into pages that resemble book pages, it will be easier to read and absorb.

I think it has all to do with the human mind. If our mind knows that there is a foreseeable end to something, we are more motivated to finish a page and move on to the next. This gives the impressive of accomplishment, and this occurs from page to page, until you reach the end of the document or book you are reading. On a web page however, the endless stringing of lines of text can cause the illusion of a never ending quest to get to the end. I am sure lots of people look at the scroll bar on the side of the screen and are in awe of how small the scroll tab is on pages with an enormous amount of content.

I think pdf files and similar files types are what we should push for. They provide book-esque readability and break up monolithic texts into manageable quantities.

It is interesting that our push for more digital texts, and the emergence of the Internet has caused paper documents to be viewed as less important. However, the layout and concept of the 'book' as we know it, is the most innovative and pleasing medium which we have at our disposal.


Jenn said...

I fully agree with what you are saying in this blog posting. Books definately seem to be becoming rare, and people who READ them are even more rare. However, I believe that there is still nothing quite as satisfactory as finishing a book and the feeling that you accomplished something, whether it was merely a book for pleasure or something more in-depth. Congrats on this posting, since I think it very true and straight to the point. Thanks for pointing out that although, for many, the internet is continuing to replace books, they still have a place in the world.