Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Take the Pledge

Read the Printed Word! With the introduction of the iPad tablet, reading in the digital age has taken another step. The question is whether it is a step forward or back.

Along the same line is an article in the July/August 2008 issue of The Atlantic titled "Is Google Making Us Stupid? What the Internet is doing to our brains" by Nicholas Carr. Carr describes the work of Maryanne Wolf, a developmental psychologist at Tufts University. "...the media and other technologies we use in learning and practicing the craft of reading play an important part in shaping the neural circuits inside our brains...We can expect as well that the circuits woven by our use of the Net will be different from those woven by our reading of books and other printed works."

Try this experiment (but finish reading this blog first). Start reading Carr's article - it's 6 pages of small type when printed on paper - and see how far you get without being distracted or losing focus. It's especially dangerous to read it on-line with all of the hyperlinks. One link can lead to another and you may never find your way back to the starting point. Maybe that makes for a richer reading experience...or maybe not. I urge you to read this article and would be especially interested in your Comments.

So here is the pledge:

"I support the printed word in all its forms: newspapers, magazines and, of course, books. I think reading on computers or phones or whatever is fine, but it cannot replace the experience of reading words printed on paper. I pledge to continue reading the printed word in the digital era and beyond."

(Courtesy of


  1. Fascinating article. I always surf with Web with multiple tabs open so if I lose interest in one thread I can jump to the next. I see now that I'm teaching my brain to "power browse" instead of reading for content. But here's my antidote: each day I have a reading hour where I sit in a room with no computer or radio or TV and read an actual book. It's a great pleasure and I pledge to keep doing it.

  2. I originally read this article on my Kindle in my electronic Atlantic subscription, so I am biased. I agree that reading on the Web makes me browse. Web content is usually short enough to fit the screen, and there are so many distractions. (And it's not exclusive to reading books and magazines on-line, based on how often I check my email at work!) But I can't take the printed word pledge, because I don't find reading e-ink, like the Kindle, to be the same. Unlike the iPad, it is meant for reading, and following links is possible but very slow. I can take the pledge to continue reading books and magazines though, in a combination of print and e-ink.