The Technium

A New Way of Reading


[Translations: Japanese]

I have a piece in the August 2010 issue of the Smithsonian magazine, their 40th Anniversary issue. They commissioned 40 views of the future. I wrote about the future of reading, or what they titled Reading in a Whole New Way

iPad-with-Smithsonian-first-cover-388.jpg.

An excerpt:

And it demands more than our eyes. The most physically active we may get while reading a book is to flip the pages or dog-ear a corner. But screens engage our bodies. Touch screens respond to the ceaseless caress of our fingers. Sensors in game consoles such as the Nintendo Wii track our hands and arms. We interact with what we see. Soon enough, screens will follow our eyes to perceive where we gaze. A screen will know what we are paying attention to and for how long. In the futuristic movie Minority Report (2002), the character played by Tom Cruise stands in front of a wraparound screen and hunts through vast archives of information with the gestures of a symphony conductor. Reading becomes almost athletic. Just as it seemed weird five centuries ago to see someone read silently, in the future it will seem weird to read without moving your body.

Books were good at developing a contemplative mind. Screens encourage more utilitarian thinking. A new idea or unfamiliar fact will provoke a reflex to do something: to research the term, to query your screen “friends” for their opinions, to find alternative views, to create a bookmark, to interact with or tweet the thing rather than simply contemplate it. Book reading strengthened our analytical skills, encouraging us to pursue an observation all the way down to the footnote. Screen reading encourages rapid pattern-making, associating this idea with another, equipping us to deal with the thousands of new thoughts expressed every day. The screen rewards, and nurtures, thinking in real time. We review a movie while we watch it, we come up with an obscure fact in the middle of an argument, we read the owner’s manual of a gadget we spy in a store before we purchase it rather than after we get home and discover that it can’t do what we need it to do.




Comments
  • Edward Woodhouse

    Kevin Kelly is excellent at presenting the positive possibilities for especially high-functioning people — readers of electronic devices, in this blog. I fear, however, that he is not very good at estimating the modal response by the average user of new technologies. In my experience, the technological optimists vastly (and dangerously) overestimate the overall collective result of the admittedly marvelous technological potentials.

  • bodyhacker

    thanks for pointing out your excellent Smithsonian article : Until the technology that tracks eyemovement is placed into devices,
    “Nielsen Norman Group’s study found that reading speeds declined by 6.2% on the iPad and 10.7% on the Kindle compared to print.”

    The study was not deemed statistically significant and it’s hard to say if Nielson Media has a horse in the race (relationships to book publishers for example), but something to keep in mind.

    Perhaps it’s a good idea to track :)

    – bodyhacker

  • danny bloom

    @alex tolley, even with super screen hi res, my hunch still holds. Either hold water or holds bs. We shall see. Wait for UCLA MRI brain scan tests to be published, they are doing them now. Science will decide, not me or you.

    “In a few years the screen will have the same hi res qualities as a piece of paper. So static screens imitating books will be like books. What is different?”

    Alex, the difference is in the way the BRAIN picks off info and processes it from paper, that’s what! That’s my hunch. I might be wrong. Just a hunch.

    Sure, screening is almost the same as reading, but that small difference is what my hunch is all about. What if I am right, Alex? I know what you will say: “sorry, Dan, I don’t deal in hypotheticals.”

    SMILE

  • Victor

    A very interesting development.Reading will change more and more and will follow the digital media and its frequent users and consumers.But what Iam still wondering about looking at the future is what is the connection with writting and using words in daily life for future generations.Will the growing use of tools and technique create new standards and norms for the ways of communications and new ways of learning and using a language in daily life?What will happen to the culture of communication we know today ?Things will change and new possibilities can improve daily life in many ways but I am still very curious about these developments.

  • Danny Bloom

    ‘Frankenbooks’: new term for e-books

    Dear Editor, The New York Times (also appears in the Korea Times, today)

    As someone who enjoys reading on paper, whether it be a newspaper or a magazine or a book, I have coined the term “frankenbooks” as a new word for e-books and e-readers.

    I am using the term with humor, but also in a serious manner, and also as part of what we might call a cautionary tale, since device readers and e-books are here to stay, like them or not. I just hope “frankenbooks” do not replace paper books completely. If that happens, we’ve lost the game.

    At the same time, I like reading the news on screens, and using our screen technology to post letters like this one. I am not an anti-Internet Luddite.

    In fact, I like both paper and screens, and we need a balance.

    Hopefully, the term “frankenbooks” will make readers pause and think in which direction we are going. Toward the light, or toward the darkness, I’m still not sure.

    signed
    Mary Shelley

  • Matt Katz

    Dan – be civil.
    Your repeated posts sound like the posts that crazy people make, especially for a subject like terminology around reading technologies.

    When you ask a girl to dance and she doesn’t respond, ask again. At some point, the silence might mean she isn’t interested. It’s good to know what time that is.

  • Mark Edelman

    When the battery discharges, reading is over. The content can change. You can’t lend one book and still read other books. You have to hold it a certain way. Other books are in your hand to distract you at a click or two. You must be technical enough to manage your collection. And the technology is obsolete in a couple of years. No passing on classics to your grandchildren. Yes, a new way of reading: never confident in the security or longevity of media or content.

    • @Mark:

      When the battery discharges, reading is over.
      With solar charging and good batteries this need not happen very often.

      The content can change.
      Yeah!

      You can’t lend one book and still read other books.
      Everyone will have one, and you’ll have more than one device.

      You have to hold it a certain way.
      Not anymore than a book.

      Other books are in your hand to distract you at a click or two.
      Same with the pile of books right here.

      You must be technical enough to manage your collection.
      Easy to learn, like learning to read the alphabet.

      And the technology is obsolete in a couple of years.
      Yep, and the old gets better.

      No passing on classics to your grandchildren.
      The classics will be everywhere anytime.

      Yes, a new way of reading: never confident in the security or longevity of media or content.

  • Michael Lloyd

    I will be getting a digital copy of The Smithsonian ASAP as I am a great admirer of Kevin’s work.

    The comments are all very interesting, as far as I could go, but I believe there is a simple fact about publishing we must remember–regardless of what science may someday say about reading on something other than paper.
    Books have always been about the content, not the container. Same of all printed media.
    I greatly appreciate integrated hyperlinks, dictionaries and sometimes even multimedia components in the digital reading experience. All different from print, but an advancement for the reader.
    I’ve been catching up on some fiction this summer, reader a seven novel series on he iPad. I never read faster or more comprehensively. One can focus on a single page at a time, not heft a thick bound volume. And these old books are no different than they ever were. The fact that I started and stayed with the reading of them was.

  • dan e. bloom

    a top teck xpert today tells me
    Dear Mr. Bloom:

    ”I am very much an outsider in this matter.
    My view is that computer documents today,
    which simulate paper and have at most
    one-way links that can’t overlap (on the Web)
    are a travesty of what is possible and a
    crippling burden on the human race.

    Studies of effectiveness of today’s
    electronic documents merely go along
    with these inane conventions and give us
    no sense of what is possible.”

  • Danny Bloom

    Kevin, remember, a few months ago, I was in touch with you on these reading issues, and you were gracious enough to respond to my email note about paper reading vs screen reading, and I asked you what you thought about calling the act of reading on a screen, or off a screen, as some say, as “screening” — as a new word to differentiate this act from reading on paper, since the two reading modes are so different in terms of processing, retention and analysis. And you wrote back to me and said “I’d be happy to see ‘screening’ used in this way.”

    One thing your very good Smithsonian article does not mention is this: screening is vastly inferior, Kevin, to reading on paper, in terms of processing of text, retention of texy (memory and recall) and analysis (critical thinking skills), and future MRI scans will most likely prove my hunch, which nobody is talking about and which is the 800 pound gorilla in the room, that reading on paper is vastly superior for processing, retention and analysis, compared to screen-reading, but until the MRI testing begins and the academic papers on this are written and published, the media will go on blah blahing about “screening” as if it’s a good thing. It is not a good thing. It is good for email reading and blog reading and quick reads online, for speed and convenience, but screening is not reading, and even Kevin Kelly agrees with me, although he does not come out here and say it. Nobody will agree with me publicly until the MRI scan results come out, and then we will know that reading on paper lights up different parts of the brain that are superior for processing, retention and analysis. Stay glued to your screens, everyone! There is more here than meets the eye! I have asked Oliver Sacks, Anne Mangen and Maryanne Wolf to start these MRI scan tests as soon as possible, and Gary Small at UCLA, too, beacuse until we get the results and the papers are published, the news media will not report this. Danny Bloom? They ignore me! No Phd, no academic cred, no sponors, no funding, just an eccentric nobody living in a cave in Taiwan. Of course! It’s not news until the New York Times reports it….

  • Danny Bloom

    Kevin, how I wish you had used your appearance in Smithsonian to call screen-reading as “screening.” Why didn’t you?

    Imagine this rewrite: “But it is not book reading. Or newspaper reading. It is ‘screening’.”

    And then you explain what you mean by that new term. But you didn’t go down that road. Why? Sir? Explain yourself.

    As for the Nielson study on paper vs screen reading, that was just on 24 people, who are we kidding. Don Norman and everyone else on that team is in the pocket of the techno-industrial industy. Cannot trust them.

  • Danny Bloom

    Kevin, how I wish you had used your appearance in Smithsonian to call screen-reading as “screening.” Why didn’t you?

    Imagine this rewrite: “But it is not book reading. Or newspaper reading. It is ‘screening’.”

    And then you explain what you mean by that new term. But you didn’t go down that road. Why? Sir? Explain yourself.

    As for the Nielson study on paper vs screen reading, that was just on 24 people, who are we kidding. Don Norman and everyone else on that team is in the pocket of the techno-industrial industy. Cannot trust them.

  • Danny Bloom

    @Danny Bloom on July 6, 2009 at this very blog:

    Kevin, as you know, i coined the neologism “screening” to stand for reading on screen, to differentiate this from reading on paper surfaces, and you also told me recently that you’d be happy to see screening used as a verb this way. Well, i wrote an opedn on my ideas about screening and it has been rejected by the Boston Globe, the New York Times and the Wash Post, not to mention Technology Review and TechCrunch. Seems nobody wants to hear about new ideas these days. Maybe if you wrote about screening, as a new verb, for what we do online these days, from reading text online to watching videos online to looking at photos online, they might sit up and listen? Vindu Goel at the New York Times tech page told me “we will never write about your screening ideas here, Dan.” Erick Schonfield at TechCrunch told me to get lost. Ashlee Vance at NYTimes showed some initial interest while visiting Taiwan and Japan and then he stopped emailing me. Jason Pontin told me he would never assign any of his writers to write about my ideas of screening. Period. See? YOU were the only one who listened to me, and said GOOD IDEA. You and Alex Beam. See his column of June 19 2009 in Boston Globe titled “I screen you screen we all screen”. You won’t see it anywhere else, but nobody wants to hear it. Only you and Alex so far……sigh.

  • Danny Bloom

    @ Danny Bloom on August 23, 2009

    Great post, great ideas. One thing that also needs to be studied. I am convinced that reading on paper (“reading”) is so very different from reading on screens (“screening”, or as Marvin Minsky at the MIT Media Lab likes to call it, “screen-reading”) both mentally and emotionally, and not a prioro better or worse, just different, as Paul Saffo has said, that we need to study these differences in terms of which parts of the brain light up and in what different kinds of ways when we read on paper and when we “screen” online or on a Kindle. I would love to see Gary Small use MRI scans to study how sustained reading on paper and sustained screening on a screen differ in terms of brain chemisty and what this might mean for the future of the technium. I am sure the frontal pole, anterior temporal region, and the hippocampus regions of the brain are impacted very very differently when we read on paper from when we screen-read on screens. We need to study this. Anne Mangen in Norway and Maryanne Wolf at Tufts have already dipped their toes into the water here.

    [A year ago, I posted that, nada has happened, and Dr Mirsky also corrected me here, …..despite him having emailed me that he liked the term “screen-reading” and preferred it to screening…..saying: “Um, I do not (as Dan Bloom likes to suggest) “like to use the term ‘screen-reading’”: I only suggested that he use it himself. In any case, I’ve come to greatly prefer reading *important” texts on screens — mainly because one can quickly search a text and also install useful hyperlinks to my other files.”

    But on ya, Kevin, for using screen-reading in your Smithsonian piece. It’s a step in the right direction. Until the MRI scan papers come out, we are in the dark. But watch! Bloom will be proven right. But like Dr Small says in the LA Times today: “It won’t matter, the train is already out of the station.”

    What Small really said was:…..re online readers often demonstrate what Small calls “continuous partial attention” as they click from one link to the next. The risk is that we become mindless ants following endless crumbs of digital data.

    “People tend to ask whether this is good or bad,” he said. “My response is that the tech train is out of the station, and it’s impossible to stop.”

    Impossible. To. Stop.

    Text from LA Times: Dr. Gary Small, director of the Center on Aging at UCLA and author of “iBrain,” said Internet use activated more parts of the brain than reading a book did.
    On the other hand, online readers often demonstrate what Small calls “continuous partial attention” as they click from one link to the next. The risk is that we become mindless ants following endless crumbs of digital data.

    “People tend to ask whether this is good or bad,” he said. “My response is that the tech train is out of the station, and it’s impossible to stop.”

  • Anonymous Friend

    remember the old Desiderata, Kevin? see the new er ”DIGIRATA”

    The Digirata 2.0

    GO placidly amid the hot links and the distractions,

    and remember what peace there may be in unplugging.

    As far as possible without surrender

    be on good terms with all persons online and never never flame others or engage

    in any kind of cyberbullying or cyberstalking.

    Key in your truths quietly and clearly;

    and read what others have to say, too

    even the dull and the ignorant;

    for they too have their stories and ideas to impart, even if you disagree.

    Avoid angry and aggressive flamers and out of control cyberbullies,

    for they are vexations to the spirit of the internet.

    (Btw, remember to spell \”internet\” in a lowercased fashon)

    If you compare your blog with other blogs that are better and have

    more visitors,

    you may become vain and bitter, so just enjoy your own blog for what

    it is and don’t

    worry abut the big guys.

    Enjoy your online achievements, as well as your plans for future downtime.

    Keep interested in your own blogging, however humble;

    it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

    Exercise caution who you give your personal details to;

    for the world is full of trickery and Nigerian scams waiting

    to part you from your money.

    Be yourself when you are online,

    or, if it so pleases you, adopt a persona.

    Use your real name or a pseudonym for your userid,

    and let no one steal your password,

    especially those pesky phishers.

    Take kindly the counsel of your fellow bloggers

    and gracefully chat with your Facebook

    friends in real time. But don’t over do it,

    and always take time out to unplug

    and enjoy a weekly

    internet sabbath.

    You are a child of the Digital Age,

    no less than the keyboards and the pixels;

    and you have every right to blog to your heart’s content.

    And whether or not it is clear to you,

    no doubt cyberspace is unfurling as it should

    and you are part of the great equation: E = mc2

    Therefore be at peace with Amazon and Yahoo,

    and make of your Kindles and your nooks what you will.

    E-readers to the fore!

    Whatever your labors and your aspirations,

    in the multitasking distractions of cyberspace

    keep peace with your soul — if you still have one.

    Remember: With all its sham, mattdrudgery, and broken keyboards,

    it is still a beautiful online world.

    Be cheerful. Use the smilely emoticon as much as possible.

    Strive to be a happy camper and unplug often.

    ———————————————-

    BEING:

    [An encrypted message found in a bottle floating across a glaring

    screen in the middle of Manhattan, and keyed in by an anonymous

    bloke in Nome .]

  • Tom Crowl

    A general thought on the evolution of the Technium beyond the planetary egg:

    While the first-stage in the evolution of consciousness on a planet obviously did not require design by the consciousness that arose…

    It may be that to survive the leap that theories regarding the “Great Silence” seek to explain…

    We must not blindly allow a completely random evolution of whatever consciousness we may come to regard as this new soul of the planet…

    Perhaps not only our tools must be designed… but also the ways that we interact with our global social organism.

    The Problem in Scaling Altruism: Where’s the Intelligent Life?
    http://culturalengineer.blogspot.com/2010/04/problem-in-scaling-altruism-wheres.html

    Political Fundraising: Act Blue, Facebook and the Missing Network Imperative
    http://culturalengineer.blogspot.com/2010/08/political-fundraising-act-blue-facebook.html

  • Danny Bloom

    Monday, a day later. I hope I am not taking up space here. If so, tell me, I will shut up. But this seems the only way to reach you, Kevin, since you do not answer your emails. Sigh. Some people! VIPS! Goes to their head! Smile.

    What i wanted to add is this. Steven Berline Johnson who also does not answer his emails, what’s with all you VIPS anyways?, writes in a recent NYT essay that “once solitary, reading is a now a social activity,” headline in my paper, that Kindle has a new feature whereby some words or phrases that are way popular with fellow readers get a d.o.t.t.e.d. line underneath them on the Kindle screen so that screeners can can use what Amazon is calling “popular highlights” which allows other screeners to highlight the said passage or quote. The feature can also be disabled if you do not want to use it. Is this the future you want, Kevin? Social reading? No more solitary thinking on one’s own? Ouch.

  • danny bloom

    and one last note, re my new coinage of “frankenbooks” — as new term for e-books and e-readers …part humor, part serious, part cautionary tale, part satire, part fun, all in the spirit of give and take, since device readers and e-books are here to stay, like them or not. I just hope “frankenbooks” do not replace paper books completely. If that happens, we’ve lost the game.

    Kevin, when i first coined frankenbooks, i googled it to see if it was online yet, and I got were a bunch of links to Al Franken’s books. Really. But what do you think of calling device readers as frankenbooks? I am trying to make a point, which I am sure you get, and which i am also sure you disagree with. That’s okay. Frankebooks are here to stay. They’re useful, in their own way. I agree.

  • Dan E. Bloom

    Kevin, at my instigation, Mark Bauerlein at the Chronicle of Higher Ed linked to your post above, and 4 others:

    http://chronicle.com/blogPost/E-Reading/25638/

  • da

    On the other hand:

    a story in Science Daily, an important one in the research base just beginning to accumulate on the impact of screens in the home, notes: and the headline is “Children with Home Computers Likely to Have Lower Test Scores, Study Finds.”

    Researchers at Duke University examined home computer access and use in North Carolina and found that efforts to widen Internet access among the population “would actually widen the achievement gap in math and reading scores. Students in grades five through eight, particularly those from disadvantaged families, tend to post lower scores once these technologies arrive in their home.”

  • daniel halevi bloom

    Kevin and any ghosts still reading here:

    There is a good interview here, the most important interview you will ever read in your post-digital life.

    http://green.blorge.com/2010/07/will-mris-help-us-determine-if-paper-reading-is-better-than-electronic-reading/

    PS: funny the CAPTCHA words for my post here were “blooms for”

  • daniel halevi bloom

    What is the best way to read a book – in paper form or electronic form? Do the different mediums work better for different types of readers or those with disabilities? These are just a few of the questions raised by the new technologies that allow people to read on computer screens, phone screens, tablet screens and ereader screens.

    Research is being done using Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRIs. The scans are looking at what part(s) of the brain light up when we read. The studies have also explored the differences between reading by normal people and people with dyslexia or autism. The findings have shown the differences between what parts of the brain are activated when poor readers and good readers read.

    The research that has been conducted specifically targeting electronic reading has been more antidotal than scientific. A small study (only 24 subjects) determined that reading electronically was ten percent slower than reading from paper. Other studies have shown that reading and surfing the internet actually boosts brain function.

    Dan Bloom, a self described “semi-retired gadfly”, journalist and public relations consultant who lives in Taiwan raised the question of which one is better, not from an academic or scientific background but out of curiosity. He has watched the growth of electronics from the early days of computers to the current use of electronic reading for everything from newspapers and magazines to children’s books. Following is an email discussion with him about why MRI studies are needed.

    Question: You do not have a Ph.D, nor any academic background or
    affiliation, and you are not connected with any research institution or e-reader manufacturer or book publisher, why are you so concerned about these issues and why you?

    DAN: So why I am doing this, calling for this research, with so much energy? I just want to know! I am concerned that reading on screens might be not be as good as reading on paper in terms of brain chemisty, and I want to know the truth, from the standpoint of neuroscience. And if I am wrong about my hunch that paper reading is superior to screening, then I will adjust my thinking accordingly. I want to see the facts, presented by experts. Anecdotal evidence no longer cuts the cake. We need facts.

    ME: Dan, a Google search on brain scans of children and adults reading uncovered some interesting information. The scans usually use an MRI while people are perfectly still and reading from a screen ahead of them. I also found an article that implied that reading on computers/screens is used to improve peoples reading abilities. There are also studies that show computer searches stimulate middle aged and older adults brains. (Studies are referenced above.) Do any of these studies answer your question?

    DAN: Thing is, for my purposes, this does NOT answer the question that I have posed which is: Is reading on paper surface, same text, [superior/ inferior/ the same?] compared to reading the same text on a screen, in terms of brain chemistry and which region of the brain light up for themes of processing the info, retaining it and critically thinking about it.

    BUT THE hunch i am going after is the comparison of PAPER reading vs
    SCREEN READING for:
    1. processing the info in the brain, digesting it
    2. retention of it, memory
    3. analysis
    so my theme is the COMPARISON, and nobody has done this research in
    the entire world, I am sure….BUT THEY SHOULD soon. one UCLA scientist told me last week IT IS POSSIBLE TO DO THIS, but it is costly and expensive and his team is busy with other things, but he hopes to see the work done soon too.

    ME: Using MRI’s is going to expensive. How would the studies be financed?

    DAN: Yes, conducting MRI brain scan research on lab volunteers reading on paper compared to others reading on screens (Kindles or Nooks or iPhones or computer screens) will be expensive. But institutions like UCLA and Harvard and Princeton and Tufts and other major universities in Europe and Japan will be able to carry out this research over the next few years. Scholars like Anne Mangen in Norway, Maryanne Wolf at Tufts, Oliver Sacks at Columbia and Gary Small at UCLA are aware of these issues and will likely be at the forefront of the research. It might take 5 years, it might ten 10 years, but the studies and academic papers will come out.

    ME: What do you think the brain scans will show?

    DAN: I have no idea what the research will say. The MRI studies might show the reading on paper is superior to reading on screens, or they might say the opposite. Or they might say there is no real difference. But we need to find out with neuroscience, not just anecdotal evidence.

    So far, there is not one academic paper published about MRI brain scan studies on this topic, but several top people in the field have told me that such research is imperative and that it will happen sooner or later.

    Anne Mangen, at the University of Stavanger in Norway, has already
    published a paper about some of this work, but she did not use MRI
    scans as part of her research. Still, one can summarize the importance of Mangen’s research on the difference between screen and print reading this way:

    “The process of reading on a screen involves so much physical
    manipulation of the computer that it interferes with our ability to
    focus on and appreciate what we are reading. Online text moves up and down the screen and lacks a physical dimension, robbing us of a sense of completeness. The visual happenings on a computer screen and our physical interaction with the device and its setup can be distracting. All of these things tax human cognition and concentration in a way that a book, newspaper or magazine does not.”

    ME: There is so much research on brain activity using PET scans why would MRIs be better than PET scans?

    DAN: Your question is a good one. I am only zeroing in on MRIs as a target method but using PET scans would also do the trick. We need research by academics and neuroscientists worldwide on how the brain “does” reading– both on screens and on paper surfaces — to learn more about these phenomena, and both PET scans and MRI scans will be useful for the studies. Research scientists will know better which method fits their mode of research.

    ME: Even if there are differences shown between reading a book and reading on an electronic device, does that really mean it is harmful or just that its different?

    DAN: Good question. Let’s say that huge differences are seen between
    reading a book on paper compared to reading the same book on a screen. Will it mean anything? If the differences are huge, it will mean something, for sure. If the differences are very slight, maybe it will not mean much. And if there are no differences, then we can all relax. And if it turns out that screening reading is superior to paper reading, then that’s good to know too. We need to ask neuroscientists to tell us what’s going on. However, as Gary Small at UCLA recently told a reporter for the Los Angeles Times: “People tend to ask whether this is good or bad,” Small said. “My response is that the tech train is out of the station, and it’s impossible to stop.”

    He was referring to an earlier note that online readers often demonstrate what he calls “continuous partial attention” as they click from one link to the next. The risk is that we become mindless ants following endless crumbs of digital data, Small indicated. But his final note that the tech train is already out of the station and cannot be stopped is telling.

    ME: How likely is it that manufacturers who have heavily invested in ebook technology will pay any attention to the findings if they are negative?

    DAN: Very good question. It is highly likely that they will pay no attention to whatever findings come out. If the findings back the superiority of reading off screens, they will rejoice and help to publish the results. If the findings say that reading on paper and reading off screens is more or less the same, in terms of brain chemistry and reception, then they will also rejoice. But if the findings come back that paper reading is superior to screen reading, it won’t make a difference to the e-reader industry. As a friend of mine in the industry told me recently:

    “Just as dire warnings about cancer and radiation from excessive cellphone use have more or less gone unheeded, the same thing will happen with the results of the MRI tests on paper reading versus screen reading. It’s too late to do anything about it. The reading devices are already out there in the marketplace and in the schools. I don’t think a few warnings will change a thing. It didn’t stop the cellphone industry. It won’t stop the e-reader makers. It’s a billion dollar industry, and it’s getting hotter every day.”

    ME: It may actually turn out the paper reading is better for some and that screen reading is better for others. Who knows? Without the research you are proposing, we won’t know.

  • zm

    My 3 year old child will always choose the multi-touch puzzles, over watching Children’s programming on TV. It’s a huge behavioural shift based on the indisputable nature of its interactivity and ability to engage. In many ways it goes back to the time grandparents used sand to teach children alphabets, numbers and drawings, a simplicity that’s exceedingly pleasing.

    What is amazing is the dynamic of low tolerance of bloatware.
    If a graphic icon (e.g parts of a fish, shapes, something figurative) is large or has too much detail or doesn’t really move around in smooth and interesting ways, there’s no way you’re going to buy more apps from that company.

    Its inevitable that companies will launch multi-touch screens at a reasonable price for children. However I do hope they go through a battery of tests on radiation emission, mercury and lead levels, optimum weight, and hand(carpal related issues) and eye (whether or not it leads to “dead zones” in the retina with prolonged use) ergonomics. Tech companies really have an oppurtunity to “get it right” this time.

    I do feel that there is something lacking, and that is the ability to sell or trade a particular app once a child has grown out of it.
    Of course apps are cheap 99c – $4.99 and of course you can delete it once your workspace becomes cluttered. It’s just mentally healthier to stop deleting things if they no longer engage one and pass it on to someone who might appreciate it and at a price affordable to them. It’s also a workable alternative, a healthy self-regulation, more individual choice which really is as effective a mechanism to combat piracy than draconian DRM enforcement.

  • Danny Bloom

    A thought experiment, fiction for now. Repeat: This is not a real news story.

    MRI brain imaging lab studies differences in screen, paper reading

    April 20, 2015, [NOTE DATE!]

    Boston — Ellen Marker studies reading. But not off screens or in paper books.
    Her research is done in a Quincy laboratory.

    The pioneering neuroscientist analyzes brains in their most enthusiastic
    reading state, hoping to understand the differences between reading
    off screens and reading on paper surfaces.
    Like me, Dr Marker feels that her studies will show reading on paper
    is superior to reading off screens in terms of
    retention, processing, analysis and critical thinking.

    But first, let’s see what the scans will be like.

    Dr Marker asks me to put myself into an fMRI machine so she and his
    team can study which areas of the brain are activated by reading text
    on paper compared to reading the same text on a computer screen or a
    Kindle e-reader.

    And this is why I’m here. Today I will donate my brain scans to science.

    Among the things that Market has discovered so far is that reading on
    paper might be
    something we as a civilization should not ever give up.

    “Even though reading on screens is useful and convenient, and I do it
    all the time, I feel that
    reading on paper is somethine we should never cede to the digital
    revolution,” Marker, 43, says. “We need both.”

    On the day I climb into the brain imaging cocoon, I am thinking about
    what it all might mean.
    But since I am just a guinea pig and not a scientist, I will have to
    wait for the results.

    I enter a sterile lab, and Marker and her four associates greet me,
    all in white lab coats.
    As they hand me my a pale blue gown to change into, I have
    second thoughts — “How can I read while lying down horizontally my
    back, not my preferred reading mode?” — but decide to push myself.

    Science needs me!

    The scientists load me into the machine and I’m off.

    Next step: They strap my head down, because any movement distorts the
    brain imaging. Ever try to read a book without facial movements?

    I feel as if I’m being shoved into the middle of a toilet paper roll,
    the walls so close my eyelashes almost graze them.

    Then I hear a voice through the earphones I’m wearing. It’s Dr Marker.

    “You okay in there?” she asks.

    Graduate student Dan Smith, 52, tells me to relax before
    running around to join the other scientists in the control room.

    With the invention of the fMRI only 20 years ago, along came the
    ability to look at brain activity. Marker says that by understanding a
    function as gigantic as reading, how the reading brain does its magic
    dance, a response that hijacks all of
    one’s attention, she might also learn how reading on screens could be
    inferior to reading on paper.

    “The more we understand how the brain works,” she says, “the more we
    will be able to help people modulate its activity.”

    As the machine switches on, it sounds like a jackhammer. I follow
    Marker’s instructions and as I do, the group watches my brain on
    their computer monitors. I willl read passages from a novel, and then
    later I will read
    the same passages on a Kindle. I just hope the Kindle does not blow up
    inside the brain scan machine!

    Research and teaching take up most of Marker’s time, but when she has a
    spare moment, she thinks about what all this might mean for the future
    of humankind.

    During my first hour in the fMRI machine, researchers map my brain’s
    reading paths
    to find out which parts correlate to
    which regions of the brain.

    “You have 10 minutes,” Marker says through my earphones near the end
    of our test. “Keep reading.”

    On the
    other side of the glass pane, the scientists can see my brain lighting
    up as I read on paper and as I read on a screen. Regions light up in
    different ways, Marker says.

    Komisaruk discusses what her research could do for the future of
    humankind. “We need to know
    if reading on screens is going to be good if it replaces all our
    reading on paper.”

    Marker’s lab has paid me a
    $100 subject fee, so I want to give them their money’s worth.

    After all, it’s not easy to get funding for this stuff — Marker
    says she spends at least half of her time applying for grants.

    “There’s no premium on studying paper reading modes versus
    screen-reading modes in this society,” she tells me
    as Smith murmurs, “What do you expect? The gadgetheads want to take over.”

    When the tests are over, Market tells me the data takes two hours to
    convert, but it can take much longer to
    make sense of it.

    “We’ll be at this for a while,” she says.

    One of the biggest conundrums turns out to be a nagging
    question for all mankind: What if reading on screens is not good
    for retention of data, emotional connections and critical thinking skills?

    Marker begins slipping more and more
    into her thoughts. “Neurons, little bags of chemicals, create
    awareness,” he says, “but how? How does the brain create the mind?
    What is reading, really?”

    I see that at the heart of all her research, there is a
    philosopher trying not only to understand reading, but also figure out
    the nuts and bolts that make up the human experience.

    “It’s the hard question I want to answer,” she says. “What creates
    consciousness?

    “I find that,” she adds, “and I find the Nobel Prize.”

    NOTE:

    And as Mike Shatzkin told me when I told him my views on paper vs screen reading, he said: “Danny, you may very well be right, but just as nobody heeded the calls that radiation and cancer might impact cell phone use, do you think makers of device readers will listen to you or even care if you are right? No way!”

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  • Christophe

    “We review a movie while we watch it”

    whoever review a movie while watching it, instead of, I don’t know, WATCHING it, is an idiot.

  • blinddrew

    I think one of the things that this article doesn’t touch on is the difference in attention span required. I am a big fan of the screen and its connectivity but i wonder sometimes if we are losing our ability to concentrate?
    Maybe i’m just getting old…

  • marty cohen

    If you think carpal tunnel is bad, wait till you see all the damaged wrists, elbows, and shoulders from having to move your arms while reading or anything) over a long period of time.

  • Alex Tolley

    I’m not buying this, nor Danny Bloom’s arguments that reading from a screen different from reading a book.

    Thought experiment. In a few years the screen will have the same hi res qualities as a piece of paper. So static screens imitating books will be like books. What is different?

    OK, you say that the screen is interactive, like that in Minority Report. So is the real world. You use your body to navigate a city and read different images and text as you go, steering your attention as you go.

    So is screen reading really more about the presentation of materials and navigation than the medium itself? Why call it screen reading (screening…ugh) instead of what it really is?

    Perhaps you and Nick Carr should get together and discuss this.

  • Blinddrew

    Think you’re coming on a bit strong there Mr Bloom, if Kevin was moderating he probably would have done something about someone who trolls the thread repeated making the same point. Seriously, there’s 25 comments on here and about 19 of them are yours, replying, as far as i can tell, to yourself. Give it a rest please.

  • Vladimir Pentovsky

    In the interest of fairness, we now offer a list for the other side: a 10-point case for print.

    1. Print books have pages that are nice and soft to the touch. Paper makes reading physically pleasurable. Reading an e-book, on the other hand, feels like using an ATM. And after staring at a computer screen at work all day, how relaxing is it to curl up at home and stare at another screen?

    2. Print books are better at conveying information. A study reported in the Guardian last year found that readers using a Kindle were less likely to recall events in a mystery novel than people who read the same novel in print. So if you want to do things like follow plots and acquire information, print is the way to go.

    3. Print books are yours for life. The books you bought in college will still be readable in 50 years. Do you really think that in 10 years your e-reader – or book-reading watch, or virtual reality goggles – will work with today’s e-books?

    4. Print books are physical reminders of your intellectual journeys. That beat-up copy of Catcher in the Rye on your bookshelf takes you back to sophomore year of high school. The Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda conjures up memories of late-night dorm room bull sessions. The food and wine-stained Lonely Planet Greece brings back that trip through the Greek Isles. A Kindle is just a Kindle.

    5. Print books are great to share. There is nothing quite like putting a book into a friend’s hand and saying, “You’ve got to read this.” There are ways of sharing e-books – if both you and your intended recipient can navigate the Digital Rights Management system. But sharing an e-book has all of the warmth of sending an e-mail or paying someone on PayPal.

    6. You can write in the margins of a print book, dog-ear the important pages, and underline the key sentences with a pencil. E-books often allow the digital equivalents of these acts – but they just aren’t the same. There is a link between physical gestures and cognition: the things we do to print books seem to help us to understand and remember better.

    7. Print books have jackets, so people know what other people are reading – which makes reading a community-building act. A bus full of people with print books is a snapshot of what is on a town or a city’s minds – as well as a collection of ideas for what you should read next. A bus full of people reading e-books is just a lot of people staring at devices.

    8. Print books are fairer to writers. The Author’s Guild has been beating the drum for years that publishers give writers a lower percentage of the royalties for e-books. That makes it harder for authors to earn a living – and to produce new books. If you want to support writers, who are struggling these days, more than publishing giants – buy a print book.

    9. Print books are better for your health. A Harvard Medical School study last year found that reading a light-emitting e-book before bed interferes with your ability to sleep, with your alertness the following morning, and with your overall health.

    10. Print books are theft-resistant. If you leave a book in your car, you can be pretty sure it will be there when you return. That is probably not true of your iPad, Kindle or other e-book reader. And a bonus: if you drop a print book in the bathtub, you can dry it out with a hairdryer.

  • Vladimir Pentovsky

    Stranger things has happened in the past. Learn from the past, when the phonograph was invented people started saying it will replace all printed media. AND THAT DID NOT HAPPEN!

  • Vladimir Pentovsky

    I thank God that the first order of Joseph Stalin is to gather all the books printed in the world and all natural species and varieties of each specie of plants in the world. In one of the many duplicated microfilm archives of the Kremlin and in many parts of Russia I have seen text books meant for students grades 1 to 7, high school students 1st year to 4th year high school. And college text books for college students from 1st year to 4th year college in all fields of science, engineering, technology, trades, vocations, shops schools, etc. And everything were systematically well organized using the dewey decimal system and based on the systematic grades level from elementary, high school, and college up to bachelor degrees, masters degrees, and doctorates degrees. The search and gathering and collection started in the 20s going way back to 1900 and then to 1800 and 1700, etc and at the same time going to the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, up to the present year 2016. Microfilming is sill extensively used by my government for it was already a matured technology in 1900 and the technology has constantly been improved on and expounded upon continuously. And all of the books, magazines, encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauruses, conversion tables, mini-mags, pocket books, hard bound books, paperbacks, maps, etc were all systematically searched for, collected, duplicated, microfilmed many dozens of times over, carefully preserved, AND PROTECTED AS IF WE ARE PROTECTING A STATE SECRET because these are our insurance against both man-made catastrophes and natural catastrophes. We even went so far to set up the numerous laboratories and machine tool shops needed and used by these scientists, engineers, technologists, technicians, master machinists, doctors, surgeons, etc. The books were reprinted many times in both English and in Russian, the other books written in foreign languages such as German, France, Japanese, etc were translated into English and in Russian and in their original languages using high quality archival printing ink and high quality archival paper. I also have seen the old books of Europe printed many centuries ago and their quality is VERY HIGH INDEED AS IF THEY WERE PRINTED JUST A WEEKS AGO! Unlike today’s so called quality ink and paper.

    All the titles’ editions were systematically purchased, from the present edition going back to the very first edition. Nothing is left to chance. That is our insurance against nuclear war, against the lost of knowledge because of war. I have seen one such facility in my younger years during the Cold War and the technicians told me this installation is one of many hundreds spread all over Russia in places that are still under Russian control. The early collections were vacuum sealed, now all conventional books during the 60s were reprinted in archival permanent paper with archival permanent ink and we have maintained this program up to the present, and then the original books were vacuum sealed again. The reason for books and microfilms is that, properly made and handled, can last for many centuries. A conventional book-based library can simultaneously show you what you are looking for and show what you should also be looking for but did not bother to search for it for you are not aware of it’s existence. And at the same time, during your search a book-based library will show you many different titles and subjects that will raise and broaden the horizon of your curiosity and awareness thus offering you a “BROAD HORIZON VISION EFFECT. A computer will only show you what you are only looking for and as a result it does not broaden your intellectual horizon and interests for a computer limits you to a “A NARROW TUNNEL VISION EFFECT”. That shows you that the more online-computer dependent you are the less you learn and the less you are aware of the existence of other knowledge and wisdom and written experiences and that destroy’s your intellectual prowess. Where as a conventional “BOOK-BASED LIBRARY” shows you everything regardless whether you are searching for it or not, regardless whether you are interested in it or not. BUT YOU ARE GIVEN THE SHEER LUCK AND BLESSINGS OF BEING GIVEN THE GENEROSITY OF BEING MADE AWARE OF ALL THE DIFFERENT BOOKS AND TITLES AND SUBJECTS, ETC and thus giving you a broad horizon of intellectual vision and awareness of ‘EVERYTHING!” A computer just gives you a limited narrow tunnel vision. Today, it is confirmed by scientists all over the world that PEOPLE LEARN BETTER AND MORE WITH PAPER-BASED BOOKS AND WITH OTHER FORMS OF PRINTED MEDIA. I rather have an analog microfilm book auto-optical-mechanical scanner which is beyond the control of internet censorship and break down of technological society for everything is “PERMANENTLY PRINTED” as a series of supermicrofilmed square shaped microdots on a photochromic glass ceramic card containing hundreds of thousands of books. All controls are manually analog but can be connected to an analog-to-digital interfacing equipment. We Russians had developed in the 80s a static multi-phase array diode-based reading sensor that can simultaneously read all of these microdots simultaneously and systematically scan, copy, and transfer the data in a highly organized manner in chronological order and in alphabetical order which is similar to the old fashioned catalog cabinet system which we still maintain parallel with our computer system. And during the 60s we have developed a microfilm-to-book reprinter technology which made it easier to convert microfilmed books back into printed paper-based book media. Yes we still use the old fashion transistors, diodes, resistors, inductors, capacitors, etc on old fashion printed circuit boards hand wired and manually soldered and manually tested. BUT THE MAIN AIM IS THAT IT WORKS PERFECTLY WITH FLYING COLORS! If what you said about the Library of Congress is true, then that means our Russian book collection program is far more complete to almost complete perfection! How can you Americans, citizens of a superpower has ever allowed this to happen is beyond me!

  • Vladimir Pentovsky

    Printed ink on paper books and analog microfilms are forever and digital are temporary. Archieval ink on archieval paper printed books and archieval quality analog microfilms (plus their analog mechanical viewers) has a life span of 500 years to 1,000 years. The forgotten discovery of a new kind of paper made from a mineral called white bentonite clay called Alsifilm discovered and used in the 40s during the war as a substitute for mica for our electrical and electronic World War II hardware was tested successfully as a wood paper substitute for making books but vested and selfish and political interests sabotaged the project by simply ignoring it until it was almost forgotten except for a handful few who kept the project going on. Imagine that, a paper which is mineral based, and using a mineral clay based-ink, can allow us to make printed books to last as long as the Ancient Sumerian cuneiform tablets!

  • Vladimir Pentovsky

    One blast from an EMP or collapse of the internet because of a global cataclsym can render your world-wide 24/7 internet infra-technostructures useless and unusable until you have spend years and decades repairing and replacing everything but that is if the industries manufacturing them are not destroyed as well. Think hard and deeply, your comments have just revealed you lack wisdom. The whole world once think Noah was wrong and crazy and it is only Noah and his family ended up alive and the whole world is dead. I am the Noah and you bowerbird kevin said is the whole world.

  • Vladimir Pentovsky

    As for the internet and computer, they are not complete no matter how many books were digitized they are still not complete for a computerized system will only show you what you want to see because that is the only thing that you were informed of.

    Whereas a traditional book-based library WILL NOT ONLY SHOW YOU WHAT YOU NEED BECAUSE THAT IS THE ONLY THING THAT YOU WERE INFORMED OF BUT WILL ALSO SHOW THE OTHER THINGS THAT YOU SHOULD HAVE ASKED BUT DID NOT BECAUSE YOU DID NOT KNOW OF THEIR EXISTENCE.

    PLUS A TRADITIONAL BOOK-BASED LIBRARY SYSTEM WILL SHOW YOU OTHER SUBJECTS AND ARTICLES THAT ARE OR MAYBE INDIRECTLY RELATED TO YOUR WORK AND AT THE SAME TIME WILL SHOW YOU OTHER SUBJECTS AND ARTICLES THAT WILL STIR UP AND RAISE YOUR CURIOSITY ABOUT OTHER SUBJECTS AND ARTICLES NOT NECESSARILY RELATED TO YOUR WORK BUT WILL INCREASE YOUR AWARENESS OF THE EXISTENCE OF OTHER BODIES OF KNOWLEDGE IN ORDER TO MAKE YOU INTO A WELL ROUNDED PERSON AND INFORMED PERSON OF OTHER BODIES OF KNOWLEDGE.

    PLUS A TRADITIONAL BOOK-BASED LIBRARY SYSTEM WILL SHOW YOU OTHER SUBJECTS AND ARTICLES THAT ARE OR MAYBE INDIRECTLY RELATED TO YOUR WORK AND AT THE SAME TIME WILL SHOW YOU OTHER SUBJECTS AND ARTICLES THAT WILL STIR UP AND RAISE YOUR CURIOSITY ABOUT OTHER SUBJECTS AND ARTICLES NOT NECESSARILY RELATED TO YOUR WORK BUT WILL INCREASE YOUR AWARENESS OF THE EXISTENCE OF OTHER BODIES OF KNOWLEDGE IN ORDER TO MAKE YOU INTO A WELL ROUNDED PERSON AND INFORMED PERSON OF OTHER BODIES OF KNOWLEDGE.

    It is like a situation when you are walking down the aisle and just looking curiously at the other book shelves that are showing everything may interest you and then you stop and say to yourself “HEY WAIT A MINUTE THIS LOOK INTERESTING” and “WHAT IS THIS?” and “WHY NOT CHECK THIS ONE FIRST IT MAY INTEREST US” and “WAIT I JUST WANT TO HAVE A LOOK AT THIS” and “THIS MIGHT BE UNPREDICTABLY USEFUL IN THE FUTURE FOR ME IN OTHER WAYS” and “I WANT TO HAVE A LOOK AT THIS BOOK JUST IN CASE I MIGHT BECOME INTERESTED IN IT IN THE FUTURE”, things and situations and circumstances of infinite various variables in terms of past, present, and future experiences containing unpredictable circumstances and situations that are virtually unexpected and unpredictable has to be taken into account.

    And a book based library, if properly organized and administered and managed and kept safe with multiple redundancies, is permanent and tamper-proofed against censorship and one can make comparison checks between the 1st edition with the other following editions and vice-versa, and check one book of the same subject with an another book of the same subject to see if there are some slight and subtle changes, alterations, and so forth and so on.

    A computer gives you only a tunnel vision of the knowledge that might potentially available. BUT A BOOK-BASED LIBRARY GIVES YOU AN UNLIMITED VIEW OF THE HORIZON OF “ALREADY” AVAILABLE WHETHER YOU NEED IT NOW OR NOT IN THE PRESENT AND IN THE FUTURE AND THOSE THAT WILL FOLLOW YOU IN YOUR FOOT STEPS AND OTHERS WHO MIGHT UNPREDICTABLY NEED THEM.

    A book-based studying process gives you an unlimited view and access to everything all at once but a computer screen only shows you one view at a time and that is inefficient. Think of it, a large study table filled with open books and books with post it markers within their pages with hand written information of what’s in them. In this way all important pages are simultaneously available for viewing and comparison and counter checking and for making it helpful for you to look for the right information dots and making the correct connection between the dots or information dots for the open books and books with written post it markers-reminders allows all simultaneous visual access of all information all at once.

    A computer? Whereas a computer can only show you one view at a time and that is the flaw of all computers and that of the internet. And being online dependent is dangerous because if everything electronic and electrical went kaput then you lost everything. Which is why we Russians in various offices have an auto-save printer and auto-save microfilm writer using a self-developing instamatic microfilm process similar to your Kodak instamatic camera of the 70s. Even before the invention of the print-on-demand machine we already have such a machine for our military services that can take a microfilm cartridge or microfilm card or computer and turn it into a book, booklet, mini-mag, magazine, text book, encyclopedia, dictionary, conversion tables and formulas charts, etc. Having an automatic analog back up as well as maintaining an extensive and intensive book-based library system using the dewey-decimal system is very important.

    So any world government who will try to use the internet against us is in for a a big surprise for we Russians have this particular mentality called “JUST IN CASE MENTALITY”.

  • Vladimir Pentovsky

    Five reasons why book is better than computer
    Posted on April 13, 2013 by edwin2026
    Book vs computer

    In modern times, the corporate elites and mass media have very powerful impact to daily life of average people. We have been told continuously in the school, university and society that we are better than ancient people because we have more sophisticated technologies which enhance our living standard. According to official story, newer things are always better than old things. Using advertisement propaganda, the profit-seeking elites continue to encourage average uninformed people to continue to consume newer stuffs by convincing them they need it because it is faster and better.

    One of those technologies are computer and internet. During my times in university, a lot of people still thought I am weird people and very ‘gaptek’ (It is Indonesian slang for people who are not used to technology) because I am computer engineer but I still like to read lecture materials offline by printing it. Additionally, I still like to find out information by asking people rather than using search engine on internet. In their mind, old things are outdated and hence less reliable and competent.

    However, as I have mentioned previously in my previous article that progress is an illusion created by elite people to keep uninformed mass to continue to depend on them. This morning, after some thoughts, I realized that the view that computer is better technology than book it is not as straight forward as most people thought. In fact, I will show five reasons why book is actually better than computer:

    1. Book is more durable than computer

    By existing historical and religious manuscripts written thousands of years ago, we are able to retrieve information from people who live in ancient times. These manuscripts are still readable even after such long period of time and need very minimum maintenance.

    On contrast, average lifespan of computer is probably around 10 to 15 years only. Like most machine, you need to regularly turn on the computer and maintain it or it will become unusable. You also need a specialist (technical support) to repair it. Book has no need for specialist to maintain. Everybody know how to maintain it.

    2. Book is more economical than computer (in long run)

    It is almost related to first reason. You only need to purchase once and that is the end of story. You do not need more money to read it. Just take it from your bookshelf, use your hand to flip it and read it. After 10 to 15 years, you can still read the same book with the same method.

    In contrast, usually after around 10-15 years computers become unusable. After that, you need to purchase new computer, new portable hard disk, paying electricity bill every month in order to read, distribute and maintain information stored inside your computer.

    Furthermore, since most software change very fast, after 10-15 years your e-book format most likely will not be readable or supportable by new computer 10-15 years later and hence you need to buy new software. It is deliberately done by software corporations to make you continuously depending on them.

    3. Book is more copyright-proof than internet

    Like I said in previously, copyright law is a very corporate oriented law which deprived distribution to useful information. Distribution of information is supposed to be free thing because it can be duplicated without losing the original.

    However, some corporate elites are not happy about this because if everyone copy freely, then they will make less money. Then they tell you that they cannot make their living if everybody copy freely. As I have shown, it is not the case.

    Back to the topic. After copyright fascists use government and oligopolistic compliant ISPs to monitor internet, you can be arrested for downloading so called ‘pirated’ books, music, or movie from internet. In contrast, since book is physical material, the copyright enforcement for distributing copyrighted book is very hard. Unless government install CCTV camera to every house, it simply cannot be done.

    4. Book is simpler technology than computer

    To produce a book, you don’t need a rocket science. It is relatively simple technology which has been used since ancient times. Since it is simple technology, the average people can master it and become producer very easily. The publishing industry is not monopolized by few companies unlike computer industry.

    On contrast, computer industry is completely monopolized by multinational corporations, such as IBM, HP, Microsoft, Google and Apple. It is because manufacturing computer requires more sophisticated process and hence required more capitals and expertise which not many people can do. It will be very hard for entrepreneurs to break the dominance of these MNCs.

    Since we know that oligopolistic market is not healthy because producers have too much power and they can reap very huge profit to their customers. As a customer, you will want to have healthy market where you can choose to change your sellers easily if you do not like them. Such thing is impossible in computer industry.

    5. Reading book increase your brainpower and memory, not reducing it

    From my personal experience and what some people said, like this guy, internet tends to make decrease concentration and attention span, making us more forgetful about simple facts and making us become lazier. This is because instant availability of information and people assume that that information will always be readily available for them by internet and hence they are not required to remember even simple things.

    But it is not true. Articles are not stored forever inside the web. Probably after 2-3 years, it will be gone and you cannot find it anymore. Even very popular websites can be gone less than decades. Most recent examples are social networking site, Friendster. Around 7 years ago, it is still very popular. Then, only within 2-3 years it was gone and replaced by Facebook. There is no way to retrieve the information back once it is gone because it is not in your head.

    Also, reading quality book tend to improve your concentration because less temptation to browse and you will be less distracted by many unnecessary things like anti-virus update, Adobe Flash update, Windows update, latest news, and availability of Youtube and so on. Hence, it will stay longer inside your memory and make you deeper thinker if you do it quite regularly.

    After saying all these things, it is not that I am anti-technology. After all, I am software engineer and I am making my living by developing software. However, I just want to say that we should be more critical toward technological trend and not blindly accept whatever your peers or technology enthusiastic say.

  • Vladimir Pentovsky

    5 Ways Books Are Better Than Computers

    “So many books. So little time.” – Frank Zappa

    I love books and believe they will be with us forever, regardless of any technological advances past, present, or future.

    In many ways I find books better than computers.

    Books are lessons in single-task focusing and enjoyment. Computers are multi-tasking nightmares.
    Books can be used freely without expensive electricity.
    Books don’t have distracting advertising.
    Books are made of paper and retain the spirit of the trees of which they are made.
    Books are historical documents with a link to thousands of years of the written word.

    This year I will use the computer less, and read books more.

    What books are you reading this week?

  • Vladimir Pentovsky

    Reading Books Is More Important Than Reading Of The Computer
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    by nicole knight on 9 October 2013 118
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    Transcript of Reading Books Is More Important Than Reading Of The Computer
    Cont…
    Students who use the computer for nearly everything, experience a decline in their ability to spell and even write by hand.
    Reading Books Is More Important Than Reading Of The Computer.
    1. Kids who read often get widely better at it. Practice makes perfect in almost everything we humans do and reading is no different

    2. Reading exercises our brains. Reading is a more complex task for the human brain. It strengthens brain connections and builds new ones.
    Cont……..
    Reading improves concentration. Again, this is a bit of a no-brainer. We have to sit still and quietly read so we can focus on the story when we are reading.
    If we read regularly as we grow, we develop the ability to do it longer.
    Disadvantages of solely depending on computers.
    While computers can be valuable tools, there are also disadvantages to be considered. when computers are used constantly, we depend on it a lot.
    Importance of Technology.
    Technology and computers themselves have become of great importance to this century. We use computers for everything, doing school work, doing almost every white collar job and for recreational use.
    Importance of reading books.
    Continuation…..
    Cont…
    The use of computers opens students to potential dangers. Students can fall victim to internet predators or become the target of cyber-bullying while on the internet.
    Conclusion.
    Sadly not everyone has a reading card so after this i hope you guys get one and read books.

  • Vladimir Pentovsky

    16 Reasons Librarians are Still Extremely Important

    via bookflesh:

    Found this great entry via magical book nerd about why librarians are still extremely important!

    Great little article! Love this stuff :)

    Not Everything is Available on the Internet
    Digital Libraries are not the Internet
    The Internet isn’t Free
    The Internet Compliments Libraries, but Doesn’t Replace Them
    School Libraries and Librarians Improve Student Test Scores
    Libraries Aren’t Just Books
    Mobile Devices are not the End of Books or Libraries
    Library Attendance isn’t Falling, it’s Just More Virtual
    Physical Libraries are Adapting to Cultural Change
    Eliminating Libraries would Cut Short an Important Process of Cultural Evolution
    Wisdom of Crowds is Untrustworthy, Because of the Tipping Point
    Librarians are the Irreplaceable Counterparts to Web Moderators
    Unlike Moderators, Librarians must Straddle the Line between Libraries and the Internet
    Library Collections Employ a Well-formulated Citation System
    Libraries can Preserve the Book Experience
    Libraries are Helpful for News Archives

  • Vladimir Pentovsky

    Fifteen Reasons Why Books Are Better Than Computers
    So. First off, I have spent the last four days valiantly battling with a persistent little virus which turned up, uninvited, on my computer last Thursday. It was only thanks to the magical and miraculous articles of How to Geek that this computer un-savvy girl was able to successfully root the little bugger out. Sadly, not before it seems to have damaged my Sims game, forcing me to spend the next fifteen odd hours in a joyful re-installation coma. Naturally, I spent a lot of time waiting for virus scans to complete over the weekend, during which I composed the following, in honour of my pesky little friend. It was written during the brief intervals when I wasn’t trying to rip my hair off my head patch by patch. Here’s to you, you rotten little bugger, and may you rot in hell.

    Fifteen Reasons Why Books Are Better Than Computers.

    1.) Books don’t take ten minutes to load and, when they’re done, demand you do a full virus scan and reboot.
    2.) Books never crash.
    3.) You don’t have to spend three hours a week backing up your books.
    4.) Books don’t require a plethora of different passwords in order to access them which, after you’ve entered them, you promptly forget, and spend the next three hours trying to recall.
    5.) If books took over the world, the worst you’d be able to say would be that we’d all be incredibly verbose and intelligent. If computers took over the world, we’d only be able to communicate in ones and zeroes.
    6.) A good book is hard to put down, but a good computer is impossible to pick up.
    7.) You don’t need to take a book to the repair shop if you accidentally drop it in the pool.

    8.) From books one can learn of the many subtle beauties of language. On comptrs, u lrn 2 type lk ths. (lol, totes! rofl.)
    9.) Books never download bizarre intercontinental viruses created by some computer nerd in Brazil with a cold heart and way too much time on his hands which, when secretly installed, send you to websites selling tampons and black-market Viagra.
    10.) Dymock’s, Barnes&Noble and WHSmith are all still cheaper than PC World.
    11.) When buying a book you are never bombarded with long, foreign technical words including RAM, processor and disk, by a condescending 16-year old salesperson.
    12.) Have you ever seen a supervillain attempt to blow up the world with his handy paperback?
    13.) Books are still useful after five hundred years. Computers are redundant after five minutes.
    14.) You are never forced to upgrade to a ‘newer version’ of a book.
    15.) You don’t need a thick User Manual, usually written in seventy-six elusive foreign languages – including Swahili and Ancient Tibetan – but not English, to read a book.

  • Vladimir Pentovsky

    The Simple Genius of the Blackboard
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    Why the board-centered classroom is still the best place to teach and learn.

    By Lewis Buzbee
    A professor at a chalkboard
    The chalkboard-centered classroom offers more than pedagogical efficiency; it also offers an effective set of teaching possibilities.
    Photo by Thinkstock

    Excerpted from Blackboard: A Personal History of the Classroom by Lewis Buzbee. Out now from Graywolf Press.

    The blackboard is a recent innovation. Erasable slates, a cheap but durable substitute for costly paper and ink, had been in use for centuries. Students could practice reading and writing and math on their slates, in the classroom or at home. But it wasn’t until 1800 that James Pillans, headmaster of the Old High School of Edinburgh, Scotland, wanting to offer geography lessons to his students that required larger maps, connected a number of smaller slates into a single grand field. And in 1801, George Baron, a West Point mathematics teacher, also began to use a board of connected slates, the most effective way, he found, to illustrate complex formulas to a larger audience.

    Although the term blackboard did not appear until 1815, the use of these cobbled-together slates spread quickly; by 1809, every public school in Philadelphia was using them. Teachers now had a flexible and versatile visual aid, a device that was both textbook and blank page, as well as a laboratory, and most importantly, a point of focus. The blackboard illustrates and is illustrated. Students no longer simply listened to the teacher; they had reason to look up from their desks.

    Like many of the best tools, the blackboard is a simple machine, and in the 19th century, in rural areas particularly, it was often made from scratch, rough pine boards nailed together and covered with a mixture of egg whites and the carbon leavings from charred potatoes. By 1840 blackboards were manufactured commercially, smoothly planed wooden boards coated with a thick, porcelain-based paint. In the 20th century, blackboards were mostly porcelain-enameled steel and could last 10 to 20 years. Imagine that, a classroom machine so durable and flexible. In my daughter’s schools, computers, scads of them, are replaced every two to three years.

    The real joy rested in pounding two erasers together, the unalloyed childhood love of making a sanctioned mess.
    While black was long the traditional color for blackboards, a green porcelain surface, first used around 1930, cut down on glare, and as this green surface became more common, the word chalkboard came into use.

    Chalk, of course, predates the blackboard. The chalk with which we write on boards isn’t actual chalk but gypsum, the dihydrate form of calcium sulfate. Gypsum is found naturally and can be used straight out of the ground in big chunks, but it can also be pulverized, colored, and then compressed into cylinders. My most important high school teacher, Mrs. Jouthas, used a variety of neon-colored chalk to help us differentiate the parts of speech, or follow the rhythms of a Mark Twain paragraph.

    The last time I saw a real blackboard in a classroom was during a visit to a still-functioning one-room schoolhouse near Hollister, California. The blackboard had been faithfully reconstructed as a souvenir of the school’s past, while the teacher and students mainly used the whiteboards that covered the other walls. Whiteboards are the rule these days, and all to the better, it seems, if only for their lack of screeching. But the whiteboard disallows a long-standing classroom rite: cleaning the erasers.

    Slates and chalkboards were often cleaned with dry rags, and no doubt sleeves, but in the late 19th century, erasers were developed for this task, blocks of wood (later pressed cardboard) covered with tufted felt, usually black or gray. These erasers needed regular cleaning to knock loose all that chalk crammed into the felt’s pores, and while it was occasionally a punishment to clean the erasers, it was most often, at my school, a privilege. Often it was the student with the highest score on a test who was invited to pound two erasers together, happy in a billowing cloud of quite possibly lung-damaging dust.

    Another aspect of this privilege was cleaning the blackboard itself, wiping it with a slightly damp rag to a chalkless sheen, making it once again a tabula rasa. But the real joy rested with the erasers, the unalloyed childhood love of making a sanctioned mess, as well as permission to hit things together really hard. But I cannot overlook the “teacher’s pet” factor. When I was asked to clean Miss Babb’s erasers, it was for her that I did so.

    Miss Babb’s fourth-grade classroom was arranged in the classic manner: a grid of desks aimed at the blackboard. When I visit elementary schools today, I find that the classic grid is rarely used. Instead, there is a seemingly endless variety of classroom arrangement, but pods of four desks facing one another and laid out in a pinwheel design seems to be the most popular alternative.

    The classic grid is often called, rather pejoratively, “the sage on the stage” or “chalk and talk.” The disdain lurking in these descriptions implies that such a design puts the teacher first and somehow threatens the students’ opportunities for more intimate, self-governed learning. It’s true that in the pods-and-pinwheel design students can more easily work in smaller groups, but such pods, of course, also offer more opportunity for subterfuge and mutiny.

    The blackboard-centered classroom offers more than pedagogical efficiency; it also offers an effective set of teaching possibilities. In such a classroom students are focused on the teacher (on a good day), but most importantly, they are focused. The teacher is not the focus of the class but rather a lens through which the lesson is created and clarified. The teacher draws the class toward her, but she projects the lessons onto the blackboard behind her, a blank surface upon which smaller ideas may be gathered into larger ones. The blackboard is the surface of thought.

    At Maddy’s middle school, Smart Boards are now front and center, and on these interactive whiteboards, she and her fellow scholars and their teachers can connect to the Internet and display bits and pieces of information, work out problems and ideas, annotate and edit their work, shuffle digital objects spatially in order to find new connections. The Smart Board is futuristic, yet it serves the same purpose as the blackboard of my childhood. It gives the student more than something to look at; it provides a necessary focus.

    During science lessons, when Miss Babb drew the solar system or the structure of a molecule on the blackboard, my mind became inflamed with new ways of seeing the universe. The school provided, of course, a science textbook, with lovely illustrations and photographs, some in color, and detailed descriptions in prose, of the very same things Miss Babb drew on the board. But it was not the textbooks that made science infiltrate my brain; It was Miss Babb and a piece of chalk, her writing on a blank field. With her there, describing the shape of an orbit as she drew it, or clicking the chalk on an atom’s nucleus and saying “nucleus” at the same time so we were sure not to miss it, she brought science to life for me in a way a textbook could not have.

    There is a theatrical element to teaching, and it is necessary. The physical dramatics of the classroom—all those bodies and brains ritually focused—can create a new and singular mind, and foster in the individual student an urgent hunger to learn. A good teacher, like Miss Babb, can, with a nod or a wink, or by simply repeating a key phrase slowly and with certain emphasis, maybe leaning toward her student body, deliver a chapter’s worth of information instantly and unforgettably. Otherwise, we might as well stay home and read to ourselves. The teacher commands her audience, conducts them.

    As terrifying as it can be, there is value in the student being told to go to the board alone. The real terror, for me at least, in standing before the blackboard, came during class, when I might be called on to “show my work.” At such moments, the student is completely vulnerable—to public failure, to private anxieties, to an absolute freeze on all thought.

    141007_EDU_BlackboardCover
    I recall a precise moment of blackboard terror in Miss Babb’s class, one I may never forget, and of course, it involved math. It was a silver-bright afternoon, and I was directed to the blackboard to solve an equation as part of a contest, the left half of the class versus the right. Some of the equations were long division, my nemesis, but some were multiplication, in which I was fluent. Please, God, I silently prayed, or whoever is in charge of math, please let it be multiplication.

    I stood at the board, chalk ready, and sensed my classmates waiting gleefully for me to fail in a gossip-worthy manner. As with most spectator sports, failure is often the more alluring outcome.

    Miss Babb called out the first number—I don’t recall the exact number, but it was four digits long—and my hope rose. But then she called out the function, “divided by,” followed by a three-digit number. Not just long division: impossible long division. A collective gasp filled the room.

    I was OK through the first column of division, but during the next, I saw that I had already screwed up. I motored on, though, as if stubbornness would win out. Growing desperate, and wishing only to be finished now, I faked the ending. I looked to Miss Babb: Was I even close?

    “That is incorrect,” she said, ticking her score sheet.

    Titters all around.


    Miss Babb joined me at the board, and we worked out the problem together. I erased everything but the equation and started over. I got it right this time: half a point. Errors were made, but I had not failed.

    From behind me, I heard a collective sigh of relief. While my fellow students were at first thrilled by my “failure,” they also knew their turn was coming and were relieved, it seemed, that the contest was not lost yet. Math wasn’t black magic, and there was hope for us all.

    The blackboard is a wonderful place to make a mistake. School wants to put us in unique situations, frightening ones sometimes, and to be able to perform in front of others is a valuable skill. School drags us, sometimes kicking and screaming, out of our shells.

    The clichéd image of a child alone at a blackboard is seen each week during the opening credits of The Simpsons, when Bart writes his lines, repeating one sentence 100 times, punishment for his high jinks.

    I saw nothing unusual in the teacher’s lounge.
    WWII could not beat up WWI.

    Teachers’ unions are not ruining this country.
    Blackboarding is not a form of torture.
    We DO need no education.
    Bart has lovely board skills, and his printing is immaculate.

    As a teacher, I have never been a gifted board worker; Miss Babb, while she might be happy to know I’m a teacher, would be ashamed of my chalk skills. I don’t have the patience for color-coding, and my handwriting, I see when I step back, is practically illegible. My “the” frequently looks like “tle.” I attack the board, I don’t write on it. And the thing is, I don’t really need to use the board at all. My graduate writing classes are small seminars with rarely more than 10 students. We sit around a large table (or smaller tables smooshed together) and we talk. We read from books, we read from manuscripts, we suffer through small silences, but mostly we talk. The ideas build up in the air above our heads.

    But every once in a while I can’t help myself and have to go to the whiteboard. I scribble on it and draw pictures, try to “illustrate” my points. In an early class discussion on the history of the novel, I frequently bring up Stendhal’s phrase “the mirror in the roadway,” which the critic Frank O’Connor uses to describe the form of the novel. For me this phrase is key to understanding that a novel is about the journey of its characters, but a journey that is also a reflection of the world through which the characters pass. The mirror in the roadway is a strange but effective metaphor, yet I cannot do it justice with words alone. So I get up and draw a roadway, and a mirror in that roadway, and moving toward that mirror, a wagonload of characters. I’m not a draftsman, and unless I tell you what I’m drawing on the board, you would never know there was a horse-drawn wagon, much less a mirror or a roadway.

    Once I start on the board, I often can’t stop and continue to add phrases, strange pictures, the titles of books, sometimes just marks, a kind of visual punctuation. The ham of my left hand will be covered with red or blue or green dry-erase marker by the end of the evening, and when I stand back to look over what I’ve written, nothing makes any sense. My board work looks more like a foreign language than literary criticism. But it’s still effective board work. I’ve been able to draw connections; I’ve been able to drive home key points. I’ve made the students look beyond me, themselves, and our little room.

    Excerpted from Blackboard: A Personal History of the Classroom. Copyright © 2014 by Lewis Buzbee. Reproduced with the permission of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, http://www.graywolfpress.org.

  • Vladimir Pentovsky

    http://www.trinityhistory.org/Crisis/Lbrary%20article.pdf

    [PDF]33 Reasons Why Libraries and Librarians are Still Extremely Important
    http://www.trinityhistory.org/Crisis/Lbrary%20article.pdf
    … permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 33 ReasonsWhy Libraries and Librarians are Still Extremely Important.

  • Vladimir Pentovsky

    Old books, and new books when they become old they automatically become priceless historical archives of vital historical information on how knowledge evolved from the past to the present so that people have the both that sense of certainty because of the physical tangible permanence of a written information and a constant source of reminding reminders of old books constantly showing themselves regardless you need them or not but will constantly remind you of the preciousness of preserving history by preserving all old books BUT ALSO OF THEIR IMPORTANCE AS A CROSS-REFERENCING ARCHIVAL PRINTED INFORMATION SOURCES WHICH IS PERMANENTLY FOREVER. Provided of course that the information is printed on permanent archival paper using permanent archival ink and placed in a perfectly safely library facility inside a house or a public library or an archival historical library like the Library Of Congress.