Technology has changed the way we do almost everything and even more affected the way we live. In our work, the learning process, interpersonal interactions, and then the issue at hand- that it has also changed the way we read. We can say for a fact that Technology has availed a modern way for our brains to import and process information.
To be on the same page of what reading is we’ll define it as ‘looking at and comprehending the meaning of written or printed matter by interpreting the characters or symbols of which it is composed.
From a tender age, an end need of caretakers was to get kids to ‘read and write’. Reading has always formed a bulk part of the learning process of our childhood. It may have first started with a parent or a nanny reading to you then us reading for ourselves as we grew older. Reading was different from just mimicking the actions of older people around or being taught what we know through a teacher. To read implied empowering oneself, by oneself, with the knowledge that was tailored for one’s advancement: intellectually and otherwise.
Methods, systems, and devices that are borne out of scientific knowledge being used for practical purposes are a picture of what Technology is. Technology is formed from the Greek words techne and logia meaning "art, skill, cunning of hand" and the collection of techniques, skills, methods, and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, respectively. The simplest form of technology is the development and use of basic tools. From as little as the smart devices we use to communicate through email since the early days, technology has set in. In older days, man used paper and pen to communicate; they sent ravens as messengers to deliver letters. Now the existence of technology enables email communication at the touch of one or two buttons on a device and internet connection.
The effect of Tech on how we read- Both Good and Bad
Internet is an integral part of technology; it has equally changed reading in the 21st century. Speaking with numbers as proof, the percentage of Americans who chose to read news online has increased from about 22% 11 years ago up to 39% in 2013. This corroborates to an extent e-books, news, entertainment, and communication are all taking place online at an increased rate. An internet researcher Kathryn Zickuhr noted that 24% of the 55% of Americans that own a smartphone are e-readers. It is no longer a question as to if Technology has affected the way we read or not, it is clearly a truth more than it is speculation.
Many of us can attest that we tend to comprehend less and read slower when reading on screens than on paper. But it really could be dependent on individual preferences. Reading with technological enhancement could possibly prevent a person from understanding the long text. From a mobile phone screen, it is easier to ‘skim’ through a material. The outlook of an e-book can be regarded as attractive, but one can’t make proper notes without scrolling up and down incessantly.
Another thing is online articles are usually full of promotional videos, commercials and other pop-ups that distract us. Plus, our eyes get tired quickly when reading from a screen. That’s why we tend to scroll things quickly and just look for necessary information. Additionally, access to limitless data has made research easier on one hand. On the other, this means that we have to process much more input and don’t have time to read slowly. There are reasons that stand for e-reading such as convenience, saving money, less use of paper (and saving the trees that are used for making paper). Adding to that, ebooks cannot wear out, or tear since they are not in hand. Online readable content, from news to informative articles then books can go beyond national boundaries; they can be read by anyone anywhere.
A physical book on another hand is has sculpted reading processes from way back. One can feel the hardcover and turn pages over easily at any time. On a personal level, reading from a ‘real’ book helps me get a mental picture of the information and retain the information more than when it is from a screen. An avid reader will like nothing more than shopping for traditional books and adding to collections. However, technology has slowly crept into the experience with the attraction of eBooks, especially in terms of how they can be integrated with audiobooks. It could become easy to get used to listening to an audiobook and then continuing to read the e-book when you can’t listen in a different environment. Reading hard-copy books have unfortunately become much more difficult as well. Some people get easily bored with books that don’t have any additional stimuli or aren’t broken into shorter paragraphs. To read the book of one's favorite author in maybe the United States as a resident of an African country, one can get a copy to read with the click of a download button online without having to wait for 7 days shipping of a Hard copy.
This is an era of digital content dissemination; this does not necessarily mean the decrease in use or existence of libraries and other cultural institutions. It does not stop authors from writing and publishing books in hard copies and doubling the format of their books to e-copies as well. Libraries can actually just keep up with technology as many have. The ones that haven’t conformed to offer online facilities like ebook borrowing, free access to databases, and digitized books are facing a head-on risk that they may be neglected and forgotten. If technology is changing the reading expectations of modern readers, and society they should respond accordingly and promptly. Technology may never completely replace physical books, but it certainly has its place now.
This new pattern in reading via tech media is starting to even out with the most recent generation, who are growing up more familiar with screens, eBooks, and tablets, it is still uncertain what the general impact will be on those growing in a world of much-integrated technology. Only time will tell whether they are able to better understand the digital texts and whether reading has been drastically changed from previous generations. At most Technology has caused, and revealed previously existing impatience when it comes to reading. The evolution of technology may really have also just aided our reading culture as opposed to taking over the traditional methods from the old days. In other words, Technology will always be evolving, it is up to us to have control and remain focused when we wish to read something. The positive side is that we have access to reading materials today like never before.
This piece does not intend to glorify either form of reading or put one above the other. In fact the effects of technology in reading, whether negative or positive, are dependent on the individual as the power of what to do with an upgrade such as this is in your hand. Technology can either improve your reading culture or not, it’s your pick. If it doesn’t, stick to what does.
Contributions from: Maura Monaghan, Students Newspaper, Nick Galov, South Central A/V, Spreeder, Ben Taylor, Gabriel Meira.
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