Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Goodbye, attention spans? More on e-reader phobia

Last week I commented on a Sacramento News and Review story about the transition to digital reading, explaining why the fear of e-readers is a bit excessive. Part of that post appears this week in the SN&R as a letter to the editor - though a link to this blog is absent. So much for shameless self-promotion.

I emailed the editor in hopes of writing a full-length response to "Goodbye, books?," but I'll take a published letter. Perhaps a few bookworms will read it and quit fretting about the supposed digital assault on our attention spans and books.

Really, there are all kinds of actual problems we can worry about. Why get so bothered over the fact that people are beginning to read words on a screen instead of a book page?

Anyway, here's the unedited letter. Thanks to the paper for publishing it.

This was a very interesting story. I’m glad the News and Review decided to cover this issue, but I think the concern about e-readers (and technology in general) expressed in the article is misplaced.

As I mentioned in a blog post about the article, “we don’t value learning new things as much as we once did, and I think it’s because our education system sucks out loud. If we could make the appropriate changes in our classrooms, I’m optimistic that we could easily recover our attention spans, regardless of how much we tweet or surf the internet."


  1. It's not so much "reading on a screen" as all the gadgets and features e-readers come with that distract the undisciplined reader. I have no problem reading on a screen -- but if my books had buttons I could push that would enable me to see what kind of notes people with the same book were making on that page, print resources would be able to cause the same attention deficits e-readers can.

    In the end the problem is human discipline more than the gadgets.

  2. "In the end the problem is human discipline more than the gadgets."

    I agree. So why blame the gadgets?