Being a Better Online Reader – The New Yorker

Being a Better Online Reader – The New Yorker.

Online readingI do a lot of online reading in a given day, whether it be on my home PC, my laptop, or my tablet – as I suspect many of you do too by now. And there is no question that digital reading is a different type of reading. Shorter “bytes” of information; less careful thought and comprehension; easier distracti0ns. Is it my preferred method of reading? NO! Give me a print book any day! And yet my position(s) and work demand it.

Are there things we can do to become better online readers? According to this New Yorker article (posted July 16, 2014), yes. It has some technical information in it, but also some very helpful material. I post it here today in hope that it will give you direction in reading more and better, whether digitally or traditi0nally.

Below is an excerpt; you will find the rest at the link above.

Certainly, as we turn to online reading, the physiology of the reading process itself shifts; we don’t read the same way online as we do on paper. Anne Mangen, a professor at the National Centre for Reading Education and Research at the University of Stavanger, in Norway, points out that reading is always an interaction between a person and a technology, be it a computer or an e-reader or even a bound book. Reading “involves factors not usually acknowledged,” she told me. “The ergonomics, the haptics of the device itself. The tangibility of paper versus the intangibility of something digital.” The contrast of pixels, the layout of the words, the concept of scrolling versus turning a page, the physicality of a book versus the ephemerality of a screen, the ability to hyperlink and move from source to source within seconds online—all these variables translate into a different reading experience.

The screen, for one, seems to encourage more skimming behavior: when we scroll, we tend to read more quickly (and less deeply) than when we move sequentially from page to page. Online, the tendency is compounded as a way of coping with an overload of information. There are so many possible sources, so many pages, so many alternatives to any article or book or document that we read more quickly to compensate. When Ziming Liu, a professor at San Jose State University whose research centers on digital reading and the use of e-books, conducted a review of studies that compared print and digital reading experiences, supplementing their conclusions with his own research, he found that several things had changed. On screen, people tended to browse and scan, to look for keywords, and to read in a less linear, more selective fashion. On the page, they tended to concentrate more on following the text. Skimming, Liu concluded, had become the new reading: the more we read online, the more likely we were to move quickly, without stopping to ponder any one thought.

 

Death of e-readers: What does that mean for book sales?

Death of e-readers: What does that mean for book sales?.

KindleereaderI found this recent headline and story to be striking. Are e-readers already on their way “out”?! It appears that with more and more people “reading” on their smartphones (Although, surely they seem to make people just the opposite!) e-readers are already dying out. Such is the fickle trends in modern technology.

Print books and magazines, however, seem to stay in vogue. And I predict they always will.

What about you? Are is the “state” of your reading? What form does your reading take?

Here is one writer’s perspective on what is happening in the digital print world (Slate, June 27, 2014). Find the entire article at the link above.

Tech writers have begun rolling out their eulogies for the humble e-reader, which Mashable has deemed “the next iPod.” As in, it’s the next revolutionary, single-purpose device that’s on the verge of being replaced by smartphones and tablet computers. Barnes & Noble is spinning off its Nook division. Amazon just debuted its own smartphone, which some are taking as a tacit admission that more people are reading books on their phone these days, to the detriment of the Kindle. The analysts at Forrester, meanwhile, expect that U.S. e-reader sales will tumble to 7 million per year by 2017, down from 25 million in 2012.

Published in: on July 15, 2014 at 6:46 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Turns out most engaged library users are also biggest tech users | I Love Libraries

Turns out most engaged library users are also biggest tech users | I Love Libraries.

I found this little news item about a recent Pew Center report to be quite enlightening and encouraging. And, based on my very limited experience, I would have to say that I have found the same to be true – those who are already book-lovers and readers are also those who use all the modern means available to access more reading material and read even more.

I certainly would apply this to myself, and I don’t think I am such a “rare bird” :) . I often find that looking for a certain title for the Seminary library or browsing a Thrift store for books drives me to look for the digital version too (If it’s free or cheaper – that’s the Dutchman in me!). And the opposite is also true: browsing through lists of digital titles drives me to look for the print version, if the title is valuable and the library doesn’t have it. And that’s just one example of how the relationship works in my life.

What would you say about these findings? What’s true in your own life? Using modern technology to read more and use libraries less? Or using today’s digital tools to use and appreciate even more your library and its resources? I hope the latter :)

It wouldn’t be a leap to theorize that the expanding role technology plays in American lives would lead to the demise of public libraries. After all, so many other industries, including the one that’s bringing you this article, continue to struggle in the digital age.

When it comes to libraries, though, that theory would be wrong. A new study from the Pew Research Center found that more than two-thirds of Americans are actively engag

ed with public libraries. The report examines the relationship Americans have with their libraries and technology. Dusty, worn books versus sleek new computers, tablets or smartphones may seem like unlikely companions, but it’s really all about information.

“A key theme in these survey findings is that many people see acquiring information as a highly social process in which trusted helpers matter,” Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project and a main author of the report said. “One of the main resources that people tap when they have questions is the networks of expertise. Even some of the most self-sufficient information consumers in our sample find that libraries and librarians can be part of their networks when they have problems to solve or decisions to make.”

The study also found that Americans who are more engaged in their communities are also more engaged at their libraries. But what was surprising, according to the researchers, is that the most highly engaged library users tended to be the biggest technology users.

The Future of Books Looks a Lot Like Netflix – Wired.com

The Future of Books Looks a Lot Like Netflix | Wired Business | Wired.com.

ereading-tabletI am rather skeptical about this concept being “the future of books”, and I rather doubt the widespread use and success of this idea, but it is always interesting to see what ideas are being tossed about in the book industry. According to Wired.com this idea of books paid for and delivered to your tablet like subscription magazines carries promise. We shall see.

I have also seen notice that the popularity of tablets and e-reading is easing already, which tells me the traditional print book is far from over. But, let the dreamers dream and the startups continue to start up different book ventures. As long as you are publishing something worth reading, people will buy it, no matter what the form may be.

Below is part of the “Wired” news item; find the rest at the link above.

Struggling against plunging prices and a shrinking audience, book publishers think they’ve found a compelling vision for the future: magazines.

Today, the San Francisco-based literary startup Plympton launched an online fiction service called Rooster. It’s sold by subscription. It’s priced by the month. And it automatically delivers regular content to your iPhone or iPad. In other words, it’s a book service that looks a lot like a magazine service. And it’s just the latest example of how books are being packaged like magazines.

With Rooster, readers pay $5 per month in exchange for a stream of bite-sized chunks of fiction. Each chunk takes just 15 minutes or so to read, and over the course of a month, they add up to two books. The service builds on the success of Plympton’s Daily Lit, which emails you classic literature in five-minute installments.

Published in: on March 20, 2014 at 6:16 AM  Comments (2)  
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Real books should be preserved like papyrus scrolls – The Guardian

Real books should be preserved like papyrus scrolls | Books | theguardian.com.

papyrus scroll-1A little over a week ago Rick Gekoski wrote this important piece in the British magazine, The Guardian (posted Jan.27, 2014). In it he sounds the alarm about the overuse of digitalization (e-versions of books, magazines, etc.) and points to the important place which libraries have had and must continue to have in preserving printed materials. Perhaps, as he says, libraries in the future will only be repositories of rare books.

That is not enough for me. The past, present, and future ought to be preserved in printed form. To my mind, printed books and magazines -even images – will continue to have relevance to the end of the age. But I can imagine today’s generation might feel differently. Just don’t close the libraries in my lifetime. :)

I have posted a few paragraphs of Gekoski’s thoughts here, and encourage you to follow the link to the rest of his article.

You can burn books, but you cannot burn them all. But in a future electronic world, there will be a ghastly contingency about the written word, and we have to begin thinking – now! – about how this may be resisted.

The role of libraries is essential here, as secure repositories for the written word. And here I must admit a fear. In their rush to digitisation – an enthusiasm I find in most librarians I meet – there is the danger that libraries may too quickly abandon their crucial historical role. Already they have cut back, for instance, on the purchase of magazines and journals, and subscribed, instead, to their electronic versions. Think of all the shelf space that you free! How convenient not to have to arrange and rearrange, add texts as they arrive, dust and archivally preserve! But these new electronic versions may prove as fragile as the papyrus scrolls of Herculaneum and Alexandria: one moment of conflagration and they are gone.

If we can preserve and encourage the impulse to read, electronic books are a boon. They make reading available in the poorest parts of the world, where there are all too few books, which often have to survive, like their owners, in uncongenial conditions. But as Jeanette Winterson nostalgically observes, no electronic reader can accomplish the multitude of tasks that a library can, because it is a real place filled with real people. And real books, though they already feel expendable.

…As a species we are altogether neglectful with regard to our heritage and historical records. We lose, destroy, throw away, burn, delete, tear down, modernise. Things fall into disuse, then desuetude. We need to oppose this with all our energies: to resist the increasing pressure on funds and shelf space, and the deterioration of the objects themselves, to counter with strong reason the voices that will increasingly and aggressively complain: what do we need those dusty old things for anyway?

And the answer is that if once books were the providers of sacred texts, they must themselves come to be regarded as sacred objects, and be protected, preserved, studied and admired as we now value the cuneiform tablets and papyrus scrolls of our ancestors. Libraries are our repositories of paper. For 700 or 800 years paper has been how we have known ourselves and each other, recorded our events, thoughts and feelings, aspirations and memories.

Two Cartoons: Read More in 2014 and Bookaholic

Calvinistic Cartoons: Waste Not.

A great message from CC for 2014! Press on with your reading! Remember our motto: READ MORE AND READ BETTER!

Waste Not-CCreReadingAnd since it is Friday, we will also include this fun ecard my daughter Kim thought was appropriate for me. And I couldn’t agree more! :)

Book Ecard-2

 

Encouraging the Next Generation to Read (3) – Rev.B.Huizinga

YAReaders-1For the third time we reference the recent article on reading found in The Standard Bearer (Dec.15, 2013) and penned by Rev.Brian Huizinga, pastor of Hope PRC in Redlands, CA (For the previous installment, go here.). These articles are the text of an inspiring speech Rev.Huizinga gave at the annual RFPA meeting in September of 2013.

In this second installment he is discussing the twofold urgency for encouraging the next generation to read. You will find these thoughts also compelling – and we hope encouraging – toward reading, whether you are part of the next generation or the current generation!

Secondly, the necessity and even urgency of encouraging the next generation to read is the fact that the modern world is not conducive to, and even indirectly discourages, the deep thinking that reading requires.  This is a world where information is increasingly communicated through bright images; stimulating, real-life pictures; and action-packed videos.  If the message is communicated through words, the words are reduced to abbreviations so that the mind spends minimal time with the words, flitting around like a hummingbird from one image to the next.  When information is communicated this way it makes the human mind increasingly passive.  Less discipline and effort are required.  Little, if any, critical thinking, careful contemplation, reflection, and meditation are practiced.  Technology is a wonderful tool.  However, by its own admission, the modern world is not developing the smart man, but the Smart Phone.  And as the tool gets smarter, does the mind get proportionally duller?

…Now consider the activity of reading the Bible and all spiritually-edifying literature.  Reading demands active participation.  The moment the mind enters the passive mode we are no longer reading but blankly staring at words on a page.  Often we work our way to the end of a page we never actually read.   Reading demands mental activity, discipline, effort, careful contemplation, meditation, and reflection.  Sometimes you have to go back and read the same sentence over again in order to understand the concepts and their relationships to each other, and the relationship of the sentence to its preceding context.  Reading demands deep thinking.

It is no surprise that reading, or any other spiritually edifying activity of the Christian life requires deep thinking, and the exercise of the mind.  For, Romans 12:2 says, “And be not conformed to this world:  but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind….”  By the renewing of your mind!  The mind is not like the cottage on the lake, which has to be renovated and updated every twenty or fifty years or so.  The mind has to be renovated every single day lest it decay and corrode.  Every day renew your mind!  Do not be conformed to this world, which conformity can be accelerated by the decaying of the mind, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  I Peter 1:13:  “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober….”  Gird up the loins of your mind.  Think of a man in Israel with a long robe.  If he had to move quickly, he would pull up the bottom of his robe and tuck it in his girdle, lest it get caught in his sandals or in his legs.  And now the apostle Peter says, “Gird up the loins of your mind.”  We have to be sharp and active and diligent with our mind.  Gird it up, so it is ready to go.  The Christian life in general and reading in particular demand a sharp, regenerated mind.

It is always necessary to encourage the next generation to read, but it is especially urgent now because the modern world in which we live is not conducive to and even indirectly discourages the deep thinking of the mind that spiritually-edifying reading requires.

We must encourage the next generation to read.

Facebook, the Church, and Real Friendships – C.Trueman

trueman-fools.inddFrom chapter 19, “No Text, Please, I’m British!”, of Carl R. Trueman’s Fools Rush In Where Monkeys Fear to Tread: Taking Aim at Everyone (P&R, 2012), where he  comments on the church’s response to Facebook and other forms of social media:

For myself I rejoice that I grew up before the web and the video game supplanted the real world of friendships, real discussions, real lives. I did not spend my youth growing obese and developing Vitamin D deficiency in front of an illuminated screen, living my life through the medium of pixels. However she does it, the church should show this generation of text and web addicts where real friendship and community lie, not with some bunch of self-created avatars on Facebook but with the person next-door, with the person they can see, hear, touch, and , of course, to whom they can talk, and who is created not in webworld but by the mighty Creator. And never, ever allow your church to go virtual so that people think that logging on to a service or downloading a sermon is really being part of the body of Christ. …Use these web doohickeys if you must; just don’t mistake them for real life, or the relationships that only exist there for real friendships (pp.165-66).

The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: Paper versus Screens

The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens: Scientific American.

KindlePicAs studies continue on the difference that digital reading on a screen makes for our reading skills, this article (posted April 11, 2013) helps put things in perspective and offers preliminary insights. As it turns out, reading physical books may be better for us in the long run, though e-reading continues to rise. Read the entire article at the Scientific American link above. Here is part of it to show you what studies are showing.

Nevertheless, the video brings into focus an important question: How exactly does the technology we use to read change the way we read? How reading on screens differs from reading on paper is relevant not just to the youngest among us, but to just about everyone who reads—to anyone who routinely switches between working long hours in front of a computer at the office and leisurely reading paper magazines and books at home; to people who have embraced e-readers for their convenience and portability, but admit that for some reason they still prefer reading on paper; and to those who have already vowed to forgo tree pulp entirely. As digital texts and technologies become more prevalent, we gain new and more mobile ways of reading—but are we still reading as attentively and thoroughly? How do our brains respond differently to onscreen text than to words on paper? Should we be worried about dividing our attention between pixels and ink or is the validity of such concerns paper-thin?

…Even so, evidence from laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports indicates that modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way. In turn, such navigational difficulties may subtly inhibit reading comprehension. Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done. A parallel line of research focuses on people’s attitudes toward different kinds of media. Whether they realize it or not, many people approach computers and tablets with a state of mind less conducive to learning than the one they bring to paper.

litclassics“There is physicality in reading,” says developmental psychologist and cognitive scientist Maryanne Wolf of Tufts University, “maybe even more than we want to think about as we lurch into digital reading—as we move forward perhaps with too little reflection. I would like to preserve the absolute best of older forms, but know when to use the new.”

The World Wide Web Became Free 20 Years Ago Today!

The World Wide Web Became Free 20 Years Ago Today | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network.

WorldWideWebpicNot much time to post today, but can’t pass up this notice from Scientific American. Happy birthday WWW! Think of how far this technology has developed in those 20 years! Astounding! The WWW is an integral part of our lives now, including libraries. Ponder for a moment all the free information – and now free ebooks, emags, etc! – available to us via the Web! Obviously it has been a powerful tool for good in our lives; but it has also been a powerful tool for evil. May God give us wisdom to discern the difference and to use it wisely, for our good and for His glory.

Read the rest of this news item at the link above, along with some interesting links that tell the rest of the story.

You and I can access billions of Web pages, post blogs, write code for our own killer apps—in short, do anything we want on the Web—all for free! And we’ve enjoyed free reign because 20 years ago, today, Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and his employer, the CERN physics lab in Geneva, published a statement that made the nascent “World Wide Web” technology available to every person, company and institution with no royalty or restriction.

Berners-Lee proposed the Web in 1989 and had a working version in Dec 1990. But by 1993 certain user groups were positioning themselves to try to monopolize the Web as a commercial product. Chief among them was the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, which had developed a browser called Mosaic that would later become Netscape. So Berners-Lee and CERN decided to release the code for the Web, believing that software development by hundreds of Web enthusiasts at the time, and millions of people in the future, would always stay one step ahead of any company that tried to control the Web or force people to pay to use it. The decision came at a very tense time that could have ruined the Web’s primary goal as a ubiquitous, open communications platform.

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