25/02/2018

Remembering how to read

Doug Belshaw writes that we are in danger of loosing something fundamental:

"There was a real sense in the 1990s that reading on screen was very different to reading on paper. We’ve kind of lost that sense of difference, and I think perhaps we need to regain it"

Reading online and on our devices has become like tweeting, a throwaway act where we don't take in the words. Sharing is only a tap away and we read with an underlying agenda: can I write about this, what's the best quote, the pithy takeaway?

Just consider the "books" I got yesterday. I put books in inverted commas because while they have the format of a book (made from bound paper with a cover) they are a selection of carefully curated extracts designed for speed and convenience, to be dipped in and out of rather than read front to back.

It's wrong that we become beguiled by headlines, feed on "bite size" chunks, and share to social networks without even reading the piece based solely on the promise of what it contains.

Doug quotes:

"The suggestion that, in a few generations, our experience of media will be reinvented shouldn’t surprise us. We should, instead, marvel at the fact we ever read books at all."

Just because throughout most of human history we got by perfectly well without books, and widespread literacy is a relatively recent phenomenon, that doesn't mean we should cast them aside as though they never mattered.

Reading on paper or a screen need not be different but we should approach both as though they were the former.

We should become beguiled by the stories, by the meanings and the messages; dive deep into something, loose ourselves in it whether it's a book, blog post, whatever. Stop looking for the cheap points and make the effort to truly understand what is in front of us.

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Colin Walker Colin Walker colin@colinwalker.blog