Liam noted in the comments of the post “More on Scrolls” that while he reads a lot, he finds that easy, immediate access to information means that he remembers less of it. Google and Wikipedia are right there at our fingertips, after all? Why expend the brain energy necessary to remember stuff? He writes, “Choosing easy information access over knowledge means we don’t process and mull over ideas like we should. And it is those processes that lead to wisdom.”
This brings me to the following.
At the end of June/beginning of July, a friend came to visit us, and she brought with her the latest issue of the Atlantic, which declared on the front cover, in big, Googlish letters, “Is Google Making Us Stoopid?” You can read the article here.
One of the main thrusts of the article, as I recall, is the fact that not many people engage in deep reading any more. Even people who previously would have spent hours reading the same text find that they have trouble focussing their attention. We are used to reading online text, and online text tries to be brief. I amuse myself by trying not to write “long” posts — because those posts that are 3 pages in Word are just too much for the average reader to handle!
Further to the issue, the article points out that, even if we’re reading these relatively short bits of information, we hardly read any of them in their entirety anyway! Instead, we hyperlink hop from one site to another. Whatever links look interesting we click on and go wherever the trail follows, rather than carefully and thoughtfully reading whatever it is we started out with.
Here’s a thought from me: Turn off your computer as soon as you’re done this. Viable reasons not to do so: filling out online applications for jobs or universities, sending important e-mails, doing actual work for school or employer on computer.
Having turned off your computer, grab a book. Proceed to sit down and read it. If you don’t have any books that tickle your fancy, go to your local library and take one out. The fresh air involved will probably do you good, anyway.
I challenge you to read more than 2 chapters of a book today. Considering how pitiful an amount that is in the average book, I imagine you can do it.
I also challenge you to read an entire book thoughtfully, cover-to-cover every month.
And now, leave. Get off my blog and read something worth your while.