davidd (davidd) wrote,

The Shallows by Nicholas Carr

I am currently reading The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr.

In Chapter 7 Carr quotes a 5-year University College London study: "It almost seems that they [users of online research sites] go online to avoid reading in the traditional sense."

Like, ya think? By the end of my master's degree studies (the term "studies" being applied rather loosely), I like to think I had become reasonably adept at selecting appropriate key words to find supporting material -- as in, lines and sentences -- for the topic at hand. Far from reading entire texts, I was employing a "speed-writing" approach to crafting essays, and a "speed-reading" approach to quickly culling pithy evidence from cite-worthy sites to support whatever point of view I thought would most please the course instructors. Typing the citations in APA format often required more time than finding the necessary information.

Most of my successful peers applied variations of the same approach. One "older gentleman" in the program, steeped in the ways of tradition, insisted on thoroughly reading everything he encountered. He quickly became overwhelmed, fell behind, and eventually dropped out of the program, which was sad; he had the most natural classroom presence and easy way with children of any of us in our group. A couple of times I tried to convince him of the value in the "skimming" approach, but he would not be swayed.

I read "at length" and "in depth" when I am interested, or when I "want to." For "chore" reading, it's all about finding the most efficient approach to using the most efficient sources.

By the way, Carr's book, so far at least, is far better in every way than a similar work which I read recently (and which Carr cites in the current chapter), Distracted by Maggie Jackson.
Tags: internet, nicholas carr, the shallows

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