Sunday, January 03, 2010

Imminent Death of Reading Predicted

Oh, wait, no it isn't.

From IEEE Spectrum:
What the GIIC researchers found (or better estimated), was that in 2008 the average American consumed 100,500 words and 34 gigabytes of information for 11.8 hours on an average day. In 1980, Americans averaged 7.4 hours consuming information.
It's a bit more complicated than that, but evidently reading is not quite as dead as people seem to worry.

Here is Clive Thomson writing in Wired:
The first thing she [Andrea Lunsford, professor of writing and rhetoric at Stanford]found is that young people today write far more than any generation before them. That's because so much socializing takes place online, and it almost always involves text. Of all the writing that the Stanford students did, a stunning 38 percent of it took place out of the classroom—life writing, as Lunsford calls it. Those Twitter updates and lists of 25 things about yourself add up.

It's almost hard to remember how big a paradigm shift this is. Before the Internet came along, most Americans never wrote anything, ever, that wasn't a school assignment. Unless they got a job that required producing text (like in law, advertising, or media), they'd leave school and virtually never construct a paragraph again.
And no, they aren't writing text-speak in their academic papers.

Although I haven't managed to read a whole book in a couple of years - my attention span has completely disintegrated when it comes to non-hyperlinked text - I read probably five hours a day now, for fun, and most of my time at work is spend reading and writing. This will probably continue until someone finds a way to tag and search video. The fact that so much of the internet is locked up in gobbets of unsearchable flvs and mp4s rather depresses me.

Even when I can get to the exact video I need, and the right part in it without viewing the rest, I couldn't switch over to it completely. Right now, if a writer says something like, "Watch this YouTube video to see what Sarah Palin/Stephen Colbert/Kanye West said!" I'll scroll right past it. Just tell me what they said, furrfu. I'm not spending five minutes watching something that would take thirty seconds to read.

Unless it's music, comedy or musicians who are comedians. For example, a transcript wouldn't do this Dead Weather interview justice, would it? Though it would be nice to press a button and separate out the music and the interview so I could watch them separately.

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