The Internet is different. With so much information, hyperlinked text, videos alongside words and interactivity everywhere, our brains form shortcuts to deal with it all — scanning, searching for key words, scrolling up and down quickly. This is nonlinear reading, and it has been documented in academic studies. Some researchers believe that for many people, this style of reading is beginning to invade when dealing with other mediums as well.
While this article is jammed with “turns out” journalism and the “oh no people aren’t reading books anymore” thing that people are real tired of, I’ll take this time to point out how I read the internet these days.
I use a Kobo Aura HD to read both books and online articles. When an article looks interesting to me, I will almost never read it in my browser. Instead, I hit a bookmarklet that saves the article to Pocket. The Kobo has a built-in Pocket app that syncs quickly with Wi-Fi. If I like the article, I’ll mark it as a favourite, and it’ll get pushed to Facebook and Twitter as a link. This took ten minutes to set up, and it works great.
I don’t post or link to anything to this blog without reading over the material at least twice. The first time is almost always on my Kobo. The second is when I’m looking for a good quote.
As for books, I’ve been slacking. I used to read about three per month, but I’m down to one. It probably has to do with feature creep: right now, in 2014, there just happen to be more video games, TV shows, and essays I’d rather read than books. It fluctuates. I’m sure I’ll devour a ton when I get back from my wedding. There are quite a few in my wish list.
To get back to the article, Maryanne Wolf, the focus of Rosenwald’s piece, says “We can’t turn back” in regards to being able to concentrate on books, but two paragraphs later explains that after two weeks of trying to read a book (she’d lost the ability, apparently, through internets) she was back to normal. So. I don’t know. Maybe we’ll be fine.