Sunday, July 27, 2008

R U Reading or Skimming?

The New York Times has started a series on the future of reading in light of new media technologies.


david said...

Very interesting article.

My concern with internet reading is the same for television: interruption! There is a brilliant chapter in Amusing Ourselves to Death that demonstrates this by weaving commercial blurbs into the material. By the last page I was so annoyed I wanted to throw the the book across the room.

Also there is the problem of getting bombarded with links to other sites, with links to other infinitum!

I've also tried to limit my blog reading to an hour a day and treat it more like the morning newspaper; otherwise I tend to start skimming through hastily instead of critically thinking about any one article.

How much time each day do some of the readers here spend on blogs (writing and reading included)?

Daniel said...

Well I probably spend too much time than I should. It depends on the day and how busy I am with work and other commitments. Sometimes I might go several days to a week without looking at my usual list of blogs. I always reply to commenters on my blog with a response to a question or a question to them to spur discussion. I can do that because I get so very few readers and even less commenters on my own blog.

Blogging (reading or writing) is a way for me to process through ideas and keep up to date on what is happening in the world. Although I would preface that by saying I think a visit to a good news web-site like the BBC will keep you far more informed on current events than the spin that you usually find on blogs. But blogs are a good avenue of discussion for current events or ideas that people wrestle with that you can't get on major news sources.

pgepps said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pgepps said...

...somehow funny how ink smudged on paper, comprising mostly reprints from the AP wire, seems so upset with reading habits of those who aren't fingering through's a good thing journalists are known for their objectivity!

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...


That was glib. It avoids all the serious issues.

1. The different ontologies of print and screen.

2. The medium is the message.


pgepps said...

OK, fair enough, but the "daily news" became essential reading due to the assiduous efforts of "Yellow Journalists" par excellence such as Hearst, whose ability to influence politics on a mass scale made them a Fourth Estate that the government of the Progressive era, and particularly the World War II period, heartily embraced.

Do you honestly wish to return to a phase of society in which one, two, or three carefully vetted and "civic-minded" sources of "news" (which is neither data nor information) are relied upon with the implicit trust Americans once gave to Hearst or Cronkite? (insisting the trust of journalism is only accentuated, not fundamentally altered, when the faux reality of "live news" gets involved)

Not a chance.

Besides, the hilarity of all this insistence on the quality of ink-smudges lies (sic) in its elision of the dependence of newspapers everywhere on sources they trust without the capacity to verify--AP, UPI, Reuters, etc.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

"Do you honestly wish to return to a phase of society in which one, two, or three carefully vetted and "civic-minded" sources of "news" (which is neither data nor information) are relied upon with the implicit trust Americans once gave to Hearst or Cronkite?"

Straw man fallacy here. I never said nor implied anything of the sort. I simply favor reading over scanning. What you read makes all the difference, of course.

pgepps said...

OK, but define skimming. Is it reading selectively, as one does when reading a newspaper or RSS feed list?

Reading a newspaper sequentially seems like a very great waste of time--not to mention an utterly indigestible ingestion of propaganda. And you're subscribing (quite literally) to one editorial viewpoint, unless you selectively read from a great many newspapers and opinion journals.

In which case, aside from the smudged ink, how exactly is this reading different from my RSS reading? I keep up regularly on the writings of two or three pastors, two theology profs, a philosophy prof, a dozen lawyers and law profs, three or four missionaries, several writers and grad students, as well as my film reviews and cartoons. Then I read the articles of interest to me from major opinion journals.

And when the local rag is dropped, unsolicited, on my driveway, it sits there gathering dew until trash day.

pgepps said...

re: straw man

From my standpoint, not so. The only thing which give the New York Times a voice in this argument is its status as a has-been arbiter of information in the Hearst-Cronkite line. Their interests are clear, beginning right at the masthead.