on the good, the bad, and the ugly of reading
insightful Atlantic Monthly cover
Google Making Us Stoopid?, Nicholas
Carr interviews experts on the changing ways
in which we now read -- online instead of offline,
digital letters versus hardcopy, and finds
ominous forecasts in the winds of change.
took the online reading debate to the front page
of The New York Times on Sunday, July
27, 2008, a wide-ranging article that ran for
more than a full page inside, the kind of space
the paper reserves for only its most important
subjects. Obviously the editors thought the subject
mattered greatly, especially as it affects such
bottom-line subjects as future newspaper circulation
Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?"
the Media,” NPR’s weekly show devoted to all
things media, took a hard look ("The
3, 2009) at how the
Web is affecting the print world (books, newspapers,
magazines) and what it could be doing to our
brains—for better or for worse. It’s a refreshing
and thought-provoking show.
One of the experts interviewed on that show
is Lee Rainie, director of the
Pew Internet and American Life Project, whose research
is certainly the highlight of the show. For an
uncut version of his interview, go to: http://audio.wmnc.org/otm/otm04309_extra.mp3.
asked 25 seventh-graders to look at a web site
devoted to a fictitious endangered species, the
Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, all but one of
the 25 rated the site as "very credible" and
most struggled to prove the web site was false,
even after the researchers told them it was. "Researchers
find kids need better online academic skills."
In the 6th
edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease
examined the research on two issues: 1) Does
a computer in the home translate into higher
school scores? and 2) What about all the reading
children do online and in PowerPoint presentations
they create now for school? See LESSONS.
As the Internet
grows, so, too, do its abuses. "I saw it
on the Internet," therefore it must be true—at
least that's how the axiom goes. But sometimes
that's a long way from the truth, as NY Times columnist
and economist Paul Krugman explains in "When
Integrity Goes Missing."
NY Times columnist
David Brooks ponders the impact of instant directions
(GPS) and instant information (GOOGLE) on the human
NY Times education
writer Samuel Friedman considers the impact of
the iPod, laptop, and instant messaging on the
classroom attention span and sees a giant shadow
lurking in the corner named DISTRACTION.
the umpteenth time, the question has arisen:
Is Reading on life-support or already dead? As
technology takes away more hours, young people
gravitate to online games and chat-lines, and
newspaper readership at a 20-year low, what does
this portend for the future? WNYC (NPR-New York)
devoted one show to the subject. First in was
McCullough, who is sincerely worried.
When a listener calls to lament that when we
stop reading we stop educating ourselves, McCullough
notes that the most-educated person he ever knew
— Paul Horgan, the Pulitzer-winning novelist
and biographer — never went to college, but was
a voracious reader who opened his converdsations
with frtiends by asking, "What're you reading?"
Listen to the McCullough interview here:
Next up was Caleb
Cain whose December 24, 2007 New
Yorker article, "Twilight of
the Books," took stock of a recent
National Endowment for the Arts study and declared:
doomsday for reading is near. Were they over
the top or right on target? Listen to their arguments.
In addition, Cain's New Yorker piece
can be found at: www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2007/12/24/071224crat_atlarge_crain.
Listen to the 20-minute Cain interview here:
The "online literacy debate" continued with an interview with Elizabeth
Birr Moje, professor of Literacy, Language, and Culture in Educational
Studies at the University of Michigan, and Sunil Iyengar, director
of Research and Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) (20
mins., Aug. 12, 2008, "The Great Literacy Debate," WNYC-Brian Lehrer
Show). Listen below.
For a look at one of the earliest predictions
of Reading's imminent demise, read about the Scribner's essay
from 1894 "The
End of Books." What caused
the furor way back then? Thomas Edison's invention
that began the technology revolution.
of inventions, Amazon is now marketing a device
that may revolutionize the publishing industry: the
Kindle. With a screen that is unparalleled
in its clarity (Amazon prefers to call it electronic-paper),
it operates independent of a computer and is
lighter than a paperback book (10.3 ounces).
Buy a book and it's delivered wirelessly in less
than one minute and stores 200 volumes. How much
of a choice? More than 100,000 books available,
including more than 90 of 112 current New
York Times bestsellers at $10 each, along
with newspapers like The New York Times,
Wall Street Journal, and Washington
Post. Kindle's cost: $400. Too much? What
if the price drops, as it did for the iPhone
and the iPods and HD TV? Listen as Tom
Ashbrook of NPR's "On Point" surveys
experts and callers on how this gadget will or
will not affect the reading culture of America
20, 2007, 45-mins) at: http://archives.onpointradio.org/shows/2007/11/20071120_b_main.asp.
an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto,
offers some heady encouragement for parents of
Net Geners in his book Grown
Up Digital: How the Net Generation Is Changing
Your World (McGraw-Hill). Check out
a synopsis and review of the book here at NetGen
York Times critic A.O. Scott looked beyond
the doom and gloom of the print industry (even
as his employer, like most, struggled for profitability
amidst the industry's downturn) and saw a spark
of hope: Could the brevity of young attention
spans and the miniscule viewing space of iPhones
and iPods be a boon to the long-ignored American
short story? Could the times and short story
be made for each other? Think how many short
stories could be loaded into an iPhone or Kindle?
Praise of the American Short Story" by A.
O. Scott, April 4, 2009, NY Times) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/05/weekinreview/05scott.html
spending more time online, a commensurate amount
of time is spent "writing" online.
What does that mean for "cursive" writing
and its precipitous decline in and out of the
classroom? A Sept. 16, 2009 Associated
Press article looks at the national debate. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090919/ap_on_re_us/us_cursive_angst
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