Motoko Rich of the New York Times recently released the first of what will be a series of articles addressing online reading and the movement away from traditional forms of reading (i.e. books, newspapers, journals). I won’t go into a huge rant here as the article is quite lengthy and very detailed. But to summarize the debate; our youth are moving towards reading online much more often than picking up books. Some people believe that this is in fact reducing attention spans, comprehension and is in effect having a negative impact on students grades at school. The other side of the debate states that the internet is actually a healthy source of reading material. Online readers are able to take in much more information from a wide array of sources and can engage in ‘conversations’ about content rather than being an empty vessle that is imparted knowledge. My personal belief is that online reading is actually making us smarter, but the key is to get to the right information and not get off track (which can happen very easily on the internet). What Spreed is trying to do is allow everyone to blast through the large amount of information found on the net, while at the same time increasing comprehension. I would not agree that comprehension necessarily is lower when reading a traditional book, but numerous studies have shown that the traditonal form factor is not conducive to ‘smart’ reading. New technologies, especially those found online can definitely overcome these barriers. I say, don’t be afraid to change the status quo, but always be weiry of where we are heading.
Motoko’s Article can be found here