"It is rare to see someone reading a book, while riding in a subway or train." A nun, who writes a column in the Catholic Times, on Media Ecology, begins her column with this observation, and attempts to verify it by peeking at those using their smart phones in her travels. Most of the time they were watching drama, or playing a game, on occasions reading text, but the speed was such, she wondered if it could be called reading.
She mentions studies
that showed readers of paper books had more retention than those
reading e-books, easier to remember what they read, and able to give a
decent report on what was read.
The tendency with
the screen text makes it faster to read but at the same time understanding and attention problems arise: words
are simply passed over. In one elementary school the difference between
the reading from a book and the electronic medium-- mistakes in
understanding were three times more likely to happen.
books are appearing much more often today. We have
ten times the number of e-books in our society compared to 3 and 4 years ago, and this will continue
to grow. In California they are already saying paper books will disappear. In our own country the government has shown a desire to quicken this with their policies.
reminds us that reading is not only to search for knowledge but
especially these days we need training to concentrate, and efforts made
to develop endurance. In the 18th century with the reading revolution, it required the working together of the body and mind to do the
difficult work of reading. The work required a change to our body
and mind, and helped to develop the thinking process.
were not only the containers of knowledge. Paper books were
uniting the sense of sight to that of touch, that conveyed the
connection of these dimensions of the person. When we fingered the
pages we had the touch of hand and the sound of the turning of the page,
the scent, the leisure between the turning of the pages, weight of
the book, which added to the satisfaction. Is this possible, she asks,
with the electronic media?
Here we have another example
of technology and the great improvement in our way of living but at the
same time we also should be conscious of a loss. The word Luddite in certain quarters has taken on a new
meaning from the term used with those that found technology taking away their
means of livelihood. However, for the modern Luddites, they see some of
the negative aspects of our development.
Would it not be a sign of our wisdom to acknowledge the possibility,
and do what we can to prevent some of the harm that comes with technology?