Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Which changed first? My Brain or the Book?

Has anyone else noticed that books are changing?

Chapters have become strings of bullet points rather than paragraphs. Paragraphs have been condensed to simple-to-read sound-bites on paper. Many books of today provide multiple headings supported by short paragraphs and are page-turners more for their white space and graphic nature than for their engaging content.

Is it because readers don't have the time? Do we fear missing out on something being written or said elsewhere? Amidst the sea of information, I find my eyes continually scanning for keywords and ideas rather than taking time to allow the full of an idea to wash over my brain. Things are changing both in the content and in the way I process the information.

I now scan e-news summaries clicking only the occasional full article; and when reading the full article, settle for the topic sentences rather than giving myself over to the full story. The advertisers think it's a limited attention span, serving up micro-commercials in comparison to the 60 or 90 second ads of my youth. But amidst a world giving itself over to text messages and Twitter, I think something different is going on here. Human beings are processing information differently!

Dare we teach this type of reading? Maybe Father Guido Sarducci's University is closer than we think?


Amy said...

I think there is value in teaching kids how to process and respond to information succinctly, but I hate to think they would miss out on learning how to enjoy the complex and eloquent structure of a well written book.

While I work online all day scanning hundreds of blog feeds and emails, sometimes it's really nice to turn off the need for speed and dive into a well crafted text.

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