Periodical Essay Story

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And the media or other technologies we use in learning and practicing the craft of reading play an important part in shaping the neural circuits inside our brains.

Experiments demonstrate that readers of ideograms, such as the Chinese, develop a mental circuitry for reading that is very different from the circuitry found in those of us whose written language employs an alphabet.

I leaned against the wall, hip touching the piano’s back beam, watching David play.

The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle. For more than a decade now, I’ve been spending a lot of time online, searching and surfing and sometimes adding to the great databases of the Internet. Research that once required days in the stacks or periodical rooms of libraries can now be done in minutes.

(Unlike footnotes, to which they’re sometimes likened, hyperlinks don’t merely point to related works; they propel you toward them.)For me, as for others, the Net is becoming a universal medium, the conduit for most of the information that flows through my eyes and ears and into my mind.

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The advantages of having immediate access to such an incredibly rich store of information are many, and they’ve been widely described and duly applauded.When we read online, she says, we tend to become “mere decoders of information.” Our ability to interpret text, to make the rich mental connections that form when we read deeply and without distraction, remains largely disengaged.Reading, explains Wolf, is not an instinctive skill for human beings. We have to teach our minds how to translate the symbolic characters we see into the language we understand.”Bruce Friedman, who blogs regularly about the use of computers in medicine, also has described how the Internet has altered his mental habits.“I now have almost totally lost the ability to read and absorb a longish article on the web or in print,” he wrote earlier this year.A few Google searches, some quick clicks on hyperlinks, and I’ve got the telltale fact or pithy quote I was after.Even when I’m not working, I’m as likely as not to be foraging in the Web’s info-thickets’reading and writing e-mails, scanning headlines and blog posts, watching videos and listening to podcasts, or just tripping from link to link to link. ” So the supercomputer HAL pleads with the implacable astronaut Dave Bowman in a famous and weirdly poignant scene toward the end of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy.“I was a lit major in college, and used to be [a] voracious book reader,” he wrote. ” He speculates on the answer: “What if I do all my reading on the web not so much because the way I read has changed, i.e.I’m just seeking convenience, but because the way I THINK has changed?

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