How the Digital Revolution has Changed the Nature of Reading

I’ve been reading a lot of good books lately.  Some kept my attention better than others though.  I just finished Tina Fey’s hit autobiography, Bossypants.  It has been awhile since I’ve laughed out loud so much while reading a book.  I highly recommend this one.

After reading an article about how distractions from social media and YouTube have changed the nature of reading, it made me realize how true that is just from observing my own recent reading habits.  The whole social media is distracting concept is not new, but sometimes we just have to be reminded how much of a time suck it really is.

I have always been a voracious reader.  I used to could lie on a couch immersed in a book, or in more recent years, my Kindle, for hours on end.  I have always liked how the e-ink Kindle has managed to continue to create a quality, relatively distraction free reading experience. Enter the iPhone, and later the iPad and those days were mostly gone.

Books don’t grab my attention like they used to.  I’m finding that it is harder and harder for me to focus on one book for a length of time.  Even with one as good as Bossypants, I was still mindlessly checking my email or Facebook every so often.

So what will instant access to other forms of media do to reading?  It has and will continue to become more fragmented.  Twitter has introduced the idea of saying what you need to say in just 140 characters.  We go in to get what we want, and move on.  The good thing about this is that more people than ever before have access to information.  Most people are reading something, even if it is just blog articles.  So, this is a big step in the right direction for literacy efforts.

With that said, I do hope that good books hold their charm for years to come.  There are times when our overstimulated brains just need a break from the mindless social media checking.  I sometimes like to leave everything behind and go sit in a park on a nice day and just read.  Hide your phone, or revoke your Kindle Fire’s wi-fi access, and escape into another reality for awhile.

3 thoughts on “How the Digital Revolution has Changed the Nature of Reading”

  1. Interesting comments. I think that the Kindle’s lack of connectivity is one its plus points. I’m never sure what my sons are up to when they’re ‘reading’ on their tablets, ipods or smartphones.

    In many ways I’d rather they were on a book. With a book they can take it with them into adulthood as a cherished possession. Any favourite ebooks will get left behind locked into my Amazon account…

  2. <blockquote cite=Twitter has introduced the idea of saying what you need to say in just 140 characters

    One of my big problems with Twitter is that so many people don’t have anything of value to say with their 140 characters.

    <blockquote cite=I have always been a voracious reader. I used to could lie on a couch immersed in a book, or in more recent years, my Kindle, for hours on end

    This is one of the main reasons I don’t want a tablet (not yet anyway).. I’m 50yo and still I long to get lost in that other, book-based reality as often as possible!

    I foresee the day when I’ll be herded into buying a tablet in order to be able to provide support for my users at work, but I can’t imagine the tablet replacing my dedicated eReader (Kindle 2, btw).

  3. I’ve definitely noticed the same thing as far as my own attention span. I’ve only read a few books that keep me riveted, and I have to wonder if it’s the delivery – Kindle – or just the way that my brain has been trained to work in the last few years.

    As far as length, I’ve definitely noticed a difference in the kind of books that I enjoy. I’m much more inclined to read novellas on my kindle. Maybe that has something to do with the way my brain works, though, because a when I was buying physical books, I wanted something bigger for my money. Now, who cares? I can focus on the story.

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