Reading in a Whole New Way

Source: Smithsonian Magazine, Jul/Aug 2010

We interact with what we see. Soon enough, screens will follow our eyes to perceive where we gaze. A screen will know what we are paying attention to and for how long.

Books were good at developing a contemplative mind. Screens encourage more utilitarian thinking. A new idea or unfamiliar fact will provoke a reflex to dosomething: to research the term, to query your screen “friends” for their opinions, to find alternative views, to create a bookmark, to interact with or tweet the thing rather than simply contemplate it. Book reading strengthened our analytical skills, encouraging us to pursue an observation all the way down to the footnote. Screen reading encourages rapid pattern-making, associating this idea with another, equipping us to deal with the thousands of new thoughts expressed every day. The screen rewards, and nurtures, thinking in real time.

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