Friday, April 11, 2014

Just No Time?


I've written previously (and recently) about a seeming trend towards shorter form reading material.   This post on The Passive Voice discusses what the writer considers an alarming trend towards shorter attention spans and a decline in human ability to focus on text for a longer period of time.   We've all become skimmers and scanners.   I have a theory that, for some, this behaviour originates in college and university when, dare I say, misguided professors and instructors inundate students with vast amounts of required reading.   It wasn't always useful, in my experience.  Multiple that by four or five courses and the student would need to give up sleep to comply and still stay current with actual assignments and essay papers that need to be handed in, midterms exams and finals.

My advice to a family member, borne of my experience long ago, was to read the first and last paragraph and the abstract or summary, if any.   There's a point that the professor wants you to grasp; tease it out from the excess.  

Perhaps online readers are employing the same tactics to try to get through all the potentially fascinating and informative websites and blogs.   We've got to be quick about it.   If you've watched some older movies you'll notice the difference from current offerings.  Previously, the director was content to let us spend three minutes of screen time watching a character cook his breakfast or shave and comb his hair just so we could get a 'feel' for the character.   Today, entire galaxies would be wiped out during the same period of time.  But that's an idea.   Perhaps time travel could be used to give us more of what we need.

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