The all-encompassing ubiquity of the internet has its obvious advantages, writes Patrick Kingsley in the Guardian. "Round-the-clock news feeds" and endless pages of hyperlinks mean 21st century human beings are able to assimilate many tidbits of information in a small amount of time. But the internet may be robbing us of our ability to concentrate on a single text for longer than a few minutes at a time. Our "hyperactive online habits" have damaged our ability to "sit back, contemplate" and understand lengthy tracts of information. But there may be a solution on the horizon:
A literary revolution is at hand. First we had slow food, then slow travel. Now, those campaigns are joined by a slow-reading movement – a disparate bunch of academics and intellectuals who want us to take our time while reading, and re-reading. They ask us to switch off our computers every so often and rediscover both the joy of personal engagement with physical texts, and the ability to process them fully...
[It's not] a new idea: as early as 1623, the first edition of Shakespeare's folio encouraged us to read the playwright "again and again"; in 1887, Friedrich Nietzsche described himself as a "teacher of slow reading"; and, back in the 20s and 30s, dons such as IA Richards popularised close textual analysis within academic circles. But what's clear is that our era's technological diarrhoea is bringing more and more slow readers to the fore.
Read the entire article at the Guardian.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- A gay Mormon's complicated journey
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- The biggest lesson Obama failed to learn from Bush
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- Why you shouldn't eat dog. Not even once.
- This Indian meal service is so efficient it's the envy of FedEx
- How social conservatives became a minority in need of protection
- Grammar quiz: Do you know the passive voice?
Subscribe to the Week