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Reading Comprehension & Blogs

Dec - 7 - 2005
Nicole C. Engard

Steven over at Library Stuff has an interesting post titles Snippets.

The question is whether or not Google Book Search will be bad for literacy … personally I think assuming that it will is just plain silly …

Steven quotes a blog post in the Washington Monthly that I'd like to comment on:

It's not just that I spend less time reading books, it's that I find my mind wandering when I do read. After a few paragraphs, or maybe a page or two, I'll run into a sentence that suddenly reminds me of something – and then spend the next minute staring into space thinking of something entirely unrelated to the book at hand. Eventually I snap back, but obviously this behavior reduces both my reading rate and my reading comprehension.

Is this really because of blogging? I don't know for sure, but it feels like it's related to blogging, and it's a real problem. As wonderful as blogs, magazines, and newspapers are, there's simply no way to really learn about a subject except by reading a book – and the less I do that, the less I understand about the broader, deeper issues that go beyond merely the outrage of the day.

I don't think this has to do with blogs … well at least not for me … I've always had poor reading comprehension … in my case it's impatience and a strong desire to multi-task at all times. This was the case way before there were blogs … before I even had access to the Internet. How did I major in Literature you ask? Well I went back through the books after I read them and found the passages I vaguely remembered and re-read them to see if they fit with the topic of my paper. This is why I love the idea of Google Book Search so much – not because I only have the time to read snippets, but because I only have the memory for snippets. If I had something like this in college I would have been able to easily find that passage I was looking for and then go to my book and re-read it.

I'm ashamed to admit that I rarely read newspapers – I guess it's that whole patience thing – blogs have made it so that I can read about the news that interests me. Yes blogs post that news in snippets … but I always always always click on the links that lead to the full article – so in the end I've no only read the article, but other people's opinions on the article – which you don't get from a newspaper.

I feel as if I'm rambling on a bit, but the point is that (for me at least) Google Book Search & Blogs are not going to be the ruin of literacy … in fact (maybe I'm being optimistic here) they seem to be bringing information about news & books to more people.


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