Sunday, July 11, 2004

Internet Kills Book Reading: Who'd'a Thunk It?

Found today via Slashdot, article is available at the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

The National Endowment for the Arts profiled a new survey yesterday describing a sttep downward trend in book reading by Americans. Seems that this decline nicely matches the increase in the amount of time Americans spend with the Internet. Ya think?

The NEA is warning us of "an imminent cultural crisis". Again...ya think? Not much earth shattering news here.

As a college professor, I regularly ask my students to answer an information survey at the beginning of each semester. I use the information to get to know a little bit about who they students are, and what they are interested in. One of the questions I ask is "What is the last book you read for fun?" As little as 7 years ago I had no problem getting feedback. More and more I get responses like: "Do magazines count?" or "I don't read for fun" or the name of a book that was from their last high school literature class.

My colleague Brian and I talk about this situation pretty regularly. He calls our students part of the "postliterate" generation, implying that they know how to read books, but that it is become their least favorite way to access information. Part of the problem I have with this argument is that there are so many more reasons to read books than "accessing information".

I worry that this sharp decrease in reading is also coming with a decrease in the curiosity and creativity of our younger generation.

04:16 PM in Books, Current Affairs, Web/Tech

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