22 April 2010 02:52 PM

Technology's Effects on Reading Habits

by Dr. Rick

Recently a reporter contacted the Dr. Rick Blog to ask a thought-provoking question:  How have our reading habits changed because of new technology like the iPhone, iPad, and Kindle?  Do I have any predictions for the future?


Well, no I don’t have any future predictions, nor do I have any plans to affect it.  (I always remember the words of the great philosopher Woody Allen, “If you want to make God laugh, show him your plans.”)


But I do have some thoughts on the topic.  Here’s what I told the reporter.


As a proud, lifelong reader, teacher of reading, literature and journalism, and collector of books, I surprise myself occasionally when I think of how my reading practices have changed in the past few years.  There’s a difference between “practices” and “habit,” though.  My reading "habit" has not changed – I'm still an addicted reader, hooked on the reading “habit.”  It's just that my sources and media have changed somewhat.


Habit unchanged.  Practices modified.


A case in point: I love my Kindle, which makes my reading easy and lets me purchase books instantaneously.  (It also gives some relief to my sagging bookshelves.)  I read online newspapers and magazines, too, although I also still subscribe to plenty of printed ones.  I sometimes buy printed books, especially by my favorite authors whom I enjoy seeing on my shelves.


Audio books, downloaded books and articles, and other electronic methods also enter into the mix.


A hybrid reader, I guess you could say.


I'm probably not too different from other readers.  We're still reading.  A lot.  Our habits haven't changed, but our methods of acquiring our reading material have grown.  We haven't abandoned the "traditional" media – for example, nothing can replace thoughtful and patient reflection and hard work, so newspapers will always have the advantage of investigative journalism over instantaneous bloggers and bloviators – but we've also embraced the new media.


The key, I suppose, is to know that technology is not an end in itself.  No one reads something simply because it's on a particular electronic platform.  People read for the content, not the platform.  The technology -- whether it's Gutenberg-based or Apple-based -- is merely the tool we use to access the information, the directions, the literature.


Readers, what do you think?  Has technology affected your reading practices?  Share your thoughts with us by clicking on “Comments” below.





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