Digital Readers and Twitter May Change Reading and Writing

Check out this interesting segment from NPR this morning, “How E-Books Will Change Reading and Writing“, regarding the introduction of digital readers and social media into the mainstream.

Lev Grossman (a Time magazine book reviewer) says the real challenge for writers is electronic-book readers like the Kindle. He says the increasingly popular devices force people to read books in a different way.

“They scroll and scroll and scroll. You don’t have this business of handling pages and turning them and savoring them.” Grossman says that particular function of the e-book leads to a certain kind of reading and writing: “Very forward moving, very fast narrative … and likewise you don’t tend to linger on the language. When you are seeing a word or a sentence on the screen, you tend to go through it, you extract the data, and you move on.”

I don’t agree with the idea that digital readers make people less willing to engage in written material for the long haul. Personally, I read more now and spend more time considering and highlighting segments of books using my Kindle, something I didn’t do with a printed book. It not all about “extracting the data and moving on,” it’s about consuming the data in a medium that makes it accessible during the time you have available.

The segment also discusses cell phone novels and writing via Twitter. While I agree that Twitter is certainly not the future of written novels, I do think it is a fast and reasonably reliable way to gather news and information that is relevant to one’s current activities. It might even mean I have more time to read that book.


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