So the academic discussion is now being had regarding whether or not, reading on the internet is actual reading in the traditional form. Some say online reading is more engaging and beneficial and other’s say that To Kill a Mockingbird is better for the brain. I say it’s apples and oranges.
Steven Johnson wrote a book a few years back called Everything Bad is Good For You that highlights many of the same topics found in this Times article. From the Amazon Review:
“The heart of Johnson’s argument is something called the Sleeper Curve–a universe of popular entertainment that trends, intellectually speaking, ever upward, so that today’s pop-culture consumer has to do more "cognitive work”–making snap decisions and coming up with long-term strategies in role-playing video games, for example, or mastering new virtual environments on the Internet– than ever before. Johnson makes a compelling case that even today’s least nutritional TV junk food–the Joe Millionaires and Survivors so commonly derided as evidence of America’s cultural decline–is more complex and stimulating, in terms of plot complexity and the amount of external information viewers need to understand them, than the Love Boats and I Love Lucys that preceded it. When it comes to television, even (perhaps especially) crappy television, Johnson argues, “the content is less interesting than the cognitive work the show elicits from your mind.”
Makes sense to me. Steven is a pretty smart guy as well. He created the amazing outside.in site. I was lucky enough to catch him at the New York Public Library a few years back when he moderated a discussion between Larry Lessig and Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco). Both Larry and Jeff are two of my biggest heros. Larry is probably the most engaging intellectual property lawyer in the country and Wilco, well, is the best band in the world. The discussion was absolutely fascinating and can be found here on Wilco’s website.
Online, R U Really Reading? Is the internet making us smarter?