robertogreco + skimming   8

Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound | Maryanne Wolf | Opinion | The Guardian
"When the reading brain skims texts, we don’t have time to grasp complexity, to understand another’s feelings or to perceive beauty. We need a new literacy for the digital age"



"Look around on your next plane trip. The iPad is the new pacifier for babies and toddlers. Younger school-aged children read stories on smartphones; older boys don’t read at all, but hunch over video games. Parents and other passengers read on Kindles or skim a flotilla of email and news feeds. Unbeknownst to most of us, an invisible, game-changing transformation links everyone in this picture: the neuronal circuit that underlies the brain’s ability to read is subtly, rapidly changing - a change with implications for everyone from the pre-reading toddler to the expert adult.

As work in neurosciences indicates, the acquisition of literacy necessitated a new circuit in our species’ brain more than 6,000 years ago. That circuit evolved from a very simple mechanism for decoding basic information, like the number of goats in one’s herd, to the present, highly elaborated reading brain. My research depicts how the present reading brain enables the development of some of our most important intellectual and affective processes: internalized knowledge, analogical reasoning, and inference; perspective-taking and empathy; critical analysis and the generation of insight. Research surfacing in many parts of the world now cautions that each of these essential “deep reading” processes may be under threat as we move into digital-based modes of reading.

This is not a simple, binary issue of print vs digital reading and technological innovation. As MIT scholar Sherry Turkle has written, we do not err as a society when we innovate, but when we ignore what we disrupt or diminish while innovating. In this hinge moment between print and digital cultures, society needs to confront what is diminishing in the expert reading circuit, what our children and older students are not developing, and what we can do about it.

We know from research that the reading circuit is not given to human beings through a genetic blueprint like vision or language; it needs an environment to develop. Further, it will adapt to that environment’s requirements – from different writing systems to the characteristics of whatever medium is used. If the dominant medium advantages processes that are fast, multi-task oriented and well-suited for large volumes of information, like the current digital medium, so will the reading circuit. As UCLA psychologist Patricia Greenfield writes, the result is that less attention and time will be allocated to slower, time-demanding deep reading processes, like inference, critical analysis and empathy, all of which are indispensable to learning at any age.

Increasing reports from educators and from researchers in psychology and the humanities bear this out. English literature scholar and teacher Mark Edmundson describes how many college students actively avoid the classic literature of the 19th and 20th centuries because they no longer have the patience to read longer, denser, more difficult texts. We should be less concerned with students’ “cognitive impatience,” however, than by what may underlie it: the potential inability of large numbers of students to read with a level of critical analysis sufficient to comprehend the complexity of thought and argument found in more demanding texts, whether in literature and science in college, or in wills, contracts and the deliberately confusing public referendum questions citizens encounter in the voting booth.

Multiple studies show that digital screen use may be causing a variety of troubling downstream effects on reading comprehension in older high school and college students. In Stavanger, Norway, psychologist Anne Mangen and her colleagues studied how high school students comprehend the same material in different mediums. Mangen’s group asked subjects questions about a short story whose plot had universal student appeal (a lust-filled, love story); half of the students read Jenny, Mon Amour on a Kindle, the other half in paperback. Results indicated that students who read on print were superior in their comprehension to screen-reading peers, particularly in their ability to sequence detail and reconstruct the plot in chronological order.

Ziming Liu from San Jose State University has conducted a series of studies which indicate that the “new norm” in reading is skimming, with word-spotting and browsing through the text. Many readers now use an F or Z pattern when reading in which they sample the first line and then word-spot through the rest of the text. When the reading brain skims like this, it reduces time allocated to deep reading processes. In other words, we don’t have time to grasp complexity, to understand another’s feelings, to perceive beauty, and to create thoughts of the reader’s own.

Karin Littau and Andrew Piper have noted another dimension: physicality. Piper, Littau and Anne Mangen’s group emphasize that the sense of touch in print reading adds an important redundancy to information – a kind of “geometry” to words, and a spatial “thereness” for text. As Piper notes, human beings need a knowledge of where they are in time and space that allows them to return to things and learn from re-examination – what he calls the “technology of recurrence”. The importance of recurrence for both young and older readers involves the ability to go back, to check and evaluate one’s understanding of a text. The question, then, is what happens to comprehension when our youth skim on a screen whose lack of spatial thereness discourages “looking back.”

US media researchers Lisa Guernsey and Michael Levine, American University’s linguist Naomi Baron, and cognitive scientist Tami Katzir from Haifa University have examined the effects of different information mediums, particularly on the young. Katzir’s research has found that the negative effects of screen reading can appear as early as fourth and fifth grade - with implications not only for comprehension, but also on the growth of empathy.

The possibility that critical analysis, empathy and other deep reading processes could become the unintended “collateral damage” of our digital culture is not a simple binary issue about print vs digital reading. It is about how we all have begun to read on any medium and how that changes not only what we read, but also the purposes for why we read. Nor is it only about the young. The subtle atrophy of critical analysis and empathy affects us all. It affects our ability to navigate a constant bombardment of information. It incentivizes a retreat to the most familiar silos of unchecked information, which require and receive no analysis, leaving us susceptible to false information and demagoguery.

There’s an old rule in neuroscience that does not alter with age: use it or lose it. It is a very hopeful principle when applied to critical thought in the reading brain because it implies choice. The story of the changing reading brain is hardly finished. We possess both the science and the technology to identify and redress the changes in how we read before they become entrenched. If we work to understand exactly what we will lose, alongside the extraordinary new capacities that the digital world has brought us, there is as much reason for excitement as caution.

We need to cultivate a new kind of brain: a “bi-literate” reading brain capable of the deepest forms of thought in either digital or traditional mediums. A great deal hangs on it: the ability of citizens in a vibrant democracy to try on other perspectives and discern truth; the capacity of our children and grandchildren to appreciate and create beauty; and the ability in ourselves to go beyond our present glut of information to reach the knowledge and wisdom necessary to sustain a good society."
reading  howweread  skimming  digital  2018  maryannewolf  literacy  truth  meaning  karinlittau  andrewpiper  annemagen  patriciagreenfield  sherryturkle  attention  technology  screens  speed  psychology  behavior 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Digital Text is Changing How Kids Read—Just Not in the Way That You Think | MindShift | KQED News
[See also: "Reading behavior in the digital environment: Changes in reading behavior over the past ten years"
https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/00220410510632040

"Predicting Reading Comprehension on the Internet: Contributions of Offline Reading Skills, Online Reading Skills, and Prior Knowledge"
http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1086296X11421979 ]

"According to Julie Coiro, a reading researcher at the University of Rhode Island, moving from digital to paper and back again is only a piece of the attention puzzle: the larger and more pressing issue is how reading online is taxing kids’ attention. Online reading, Coiro noticed, complicates the comprehension process “a million-fold.”

As more and more of kids’ reading takes place online, especially for schoolwork, Coiro has been studying how kids’ brains have had to adjust. Her research, conducted on middle- and high school students as well as college students, shows that reading online requires more attention than reading a paper book. Every single action a student takes online offers multiple choices, requiring an astounding amount of self-regulation to both find and understand needed information.

Each time a student reads online content, Coiro said, they are faced with almost limitless input and decisions, including images, video and multiple hyperlinks that lead to even more information. As kids navigate a website, they must constantly ask themselves: is this the information I’m looking for? What if I click on one of the many links, will that get me closer or farther away from what I need? This process doesn’t happen automatically, she said, but the brain must work to make each choice a wise one.

“It used to be that there was a pre-reading, the reading itself, and the evaluation at the end of your chapter or at the end of a book,” Coiro said. “Now that process happens repeatedly in about 4 seconds: I choose a link. I decide whether I want to be here/I don’t want to be here, and then, where should I go next?”

In one of Coiro’s studies of middle schoolers, she found that good readers on paper weren’t necessarily good readers online. The ability to generate search terms, evaluate the information and integrate ideas from multiple sources and media makes online reading comprehension, she argues, a critical set of skills that builds on those required to read a physical book.

“We make the assumption that we’re going to keep them safe and protected if we have kids read mostly in the print world,” Coiro said. “And if they’re good readers in that world, they’re just going to naturally be a good reader in a complex online world. That’s so not the case.”

To navigate a new world straddled between digital and physical reading, adults are finding ways to try and balance both. Though there is plenty of distracting media out there vying for kids’ attention, digital reading companies like Epic! are trying to keep the reading experience as close to a real book as possible. Suren Markosian, Epic!’s co-founder and CEO, created the app in part for his own young children. He said they made a conscious choice to keep ads, video content and hyperlinks outside of the book-reading experience. “Once inside a book, you get a full-screen view,” he said. “You are basically committing to reading the book and nothing else.”

Some teachers have taken a more aggressive approach toward making space for reading, taking Willingham’s advice to talk to students head-on about putting down digital devices. Jarred Amato, a high school ELA teacher in Nashville, Tennessee, created a 24-hour digital cleanse for his freshman to crack the surface of what he calls their “smartphone addiction.”

“Students need to develop a reading routine, so I give my students daily time to read independently in my classroom,” he said. “Once they find a book that hooks them, they're far more likely to unplug from technology and continue reading at home.”"
reading  howweread  children  books  2018  digital  digitalreading  skimming  attention  comprehension  danielwillingham  ziminglu  screens  internet  online  web  socialmedia  research  juliecoiro  search  smartphones 
august 2018 by robertogreco
A Letter to Past Graduate-Student Me - The Chronicle of Higher Education
[via: https://twitter.com/davidtedu/status/746017338625953794 ]

[my response:
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/746022572936986626
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/746022887371345920

"Why this inventory first at grad school?
1. “grades are no longer the yardstick”
2. “be critical”
3. “colleagues-in-the-making”
4. “conversation between you & the other students”
5. “skimming”
6. “curtail your competitive nature”
7. summary: responsibility ]

"Your grades. I know you’re pretty pleased with yourself for earning an A- on your senior thesis, but you need to learn that grades mean something different in graduate school. Nearly everyone gets an A- or an A in every history class, and after a certain point everything will be pass/fail. Sure, if you decide to change programs, you’ll want a high GPA. But you should stop stressing over the outcome of each semester because your grades are no longer the yardstick by which your successes will be measured.

What your professors expect — more than anything — is for you to want to learn because you’re passionate about a topic, not because you’re passionate about doing well. Stop trying to figure out grading criteria, and start wrapping your head around new trends in your subfield. "Success" is measured, in part, by your ability to identify omissions in current scholarship, and to win funding to write about them and why they matter.

Your seminars. Another thing your professors will want you to be enthusiastic about is their seminars. The hours we spend teaching graduate students are when we as faculty are most able to draw upon our own research.

Go to class regularly but remember that, at this level, professors are not here to chase you about attendance. If you have to miss seminar for a reasonable reason (you’re legitimately sick, you have a job interview, or you have a childcare or family crisis), let us know, as most of us will be sympathetic. But if you need to miss seminar because you’re hungover, didn’t do the reading, or planned a vacation without looking at the semester’s calendar, don’t explain any of that to your professors. Just take the absence, and assume that it reflects poorly on you as a student.

When you do come to class, it won’t be the same as your senior-year seminars. You’ll encounter more challenging readings. Many professors use graduate courses to both run through established, canonical texts, and to catch up on the newest scholarship in the field. So get ready for some easy readings, some articles that will make you want to throw things, and some texts that will prompt you to question why you were asked to go through them at all. As you read, remember that graduate school should transform you into a good scholar and colleague. It’s OK to be critical of a book, but you need to learn how to be critical in a constructive, respectful way. (Keep in mind: The professor might be friends with the author.)

Our teaching style might also surprise you. If it does, it’s because we are thinking of you as colleagues-in-the-making, rather than students. That means: Expect less guidance on what to make of the readings, and minimal stretches of time when we seem to feed you information. Don’t count on being told whether your comments on the reading are on track or not — you may even find that you’re expected to lead discussion and to tell fellow students whether their assessments of the reading seem convincing.

Perhaps the most significant change is that you and your fellow students’ contributions are expected to fill almost the entirety of the seminar time. You are our peers-in-training, and we expect to hear you speak more than we do during these meetings. Don’t use class time to try to have an extended conversation featuring just you and the professor. Think of seminar as a conversation between you and the other students, with the professor there to moderate discussion.

Is there someone in class who always seems to have grasped the author’s argument and the book’s significance? You should be picking up tips for strategic reading from them, rather than wondering why no one else besides you had a problem with the footnote on page 394. And while we’re at it, learn to skim (and no, Past Me, "skimming" does not mean putting the book on your lap and turning the pages faster than usual), and become best friends with book reviews.

You should be getting the sense that graduate school — starting with the master’s — is about strategic study. Spend the most time with the texts and sources that interest you. But be smart about how what you’re reading will help you write your M.A. thesis, how it will help you study for comprehensive exams, or how it will aid you as you conceptualize the dissertation (if you plan to go that far).

Be deliberate about your end-of-semester research papers. Many professors will be willing to let you bend the chronological and geographic scope of our classes if it means you will write the seminar paper that is most useful for you in the future.

Your work versus your life. So, Past Me, that’s a lot of advice about coursework — but graduate school should have work/life balance.

You’ll need to curtail your competitive nature in graduate school. Don’t get me wrong: You can and should be aware of what other people in your cohort and the cohort above you are writing and planning to publish, and you should have a sense of the significant grants in your discipline and who’s recently won them. But do not try to write "better" or faster than other people. Figure out your writing and reading styles, do what works for you, and remember that a few of your fellow students might be future colleagues. Save your competitiveness for your department’s intramural sports teams, which will provide excellent opportunities to pursue work/life balance and to get humiliated by undergraduates who are in much better shape.
You should also be a good citizen. Turn up to departmental seminars, and, if graduate students are invited, to job talks. Seminars and university lectures are good opportunities to take the pulse of a given field, and sitting in the audience might spark research ideas you hadn’t considered for your own work. Attending job talks will give you an excellent opportunity to see what works — and what doesn’t — as A.B.D.s and new Ph.D.s try to sell themselves on the job market.

Finally, banish the following phrase from your vocabulary: "No one told me that …"

Graduate school is an exercise in people not telling you things. It’s also an exercise in learning when to ask questions, and whom to ask. Make it your job to be informed. Read your graduate school’s handbook, and go speak with your department’s amazing administrators if you have initial questions. They will not say no to chocolate. Read The Professor Is In, but also ask people who were recently on the job market whether her advice worked for them in your discipline. When senior scholars come to give talks, take the opportunity to go for drinks with them if that option is available to graduate students, and seek their advice about research and publishing. Read The Chronicle’s forums. Meet regularly with your adviser, but keep in mind that you are the one who should request those meetings.

Most of all, take responsibility for your graduate-school experience. It’s going to be tough; but it’s going to be fun, too.

Hugs, caffeine, and work/life balance,

Future Me"
via:davidtheriault  skimming  howwelearn  gradschool  responsibility  highered  highereducation  sfsh  conversation  learning  criticism  criticalthinking  competition  grades  grading  measurement  assessment  seminars  rachelherrmann  tcsnmy 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Do You Read Differently Online and in Print?
"The Internet may cause our minds to wander off, and yet a quick look at the history of books suggests that we have been wandering off all along. When we read, the eye does not progress steadily along the line of text; it alternates between saccades—little jumps—and brief stops, not unlike the movement of the mouse’s cursor across a screen of hypertext. From the invention of papyrus around 3000 B.C., until about 300 A.D., most written documents were scrolls, which had to be rolled up by one hand as they were unrolled by the other: a truly linear presentation. Since then, though, most reading has involved codices, bound books or pamphlets, a major advantage of which (at least compared to the scroll) is that you can jump around in them, from chapter to chapter (the table of contents had been around since roughly the first century B.C.); from text to marginal gloss, and, later, to footnote."



"Comprehension matters, but so does pleasure. In Proust and the Squid, Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University, observes that the brain’s limbic system, the seat of our emotions, comes into play as we learn to read fluently; our feelings of pleasure, disgust, horror and excitement guide our attention to the stories we can’t put down. Novelists have known this for a long time, and digital writers know it, too. It’s no coincidence that many of the best early digital narratives took the form of games, in which the reader traverses an imaginary world while solving puzzles, sometimes fiendishly difficult ones. Considered in terms of cognitive load, these texts are head-bangingly difficult; considered in terms of pleasure, they’re hard to beat.

A new generation of digital writers is building on video games, incorporating their interactive features—and cognitive sparks—into novelistic narratives that embrace the capabilities of our screens and tablets. Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizzaro’s 2014 iPad novella, Pry, tells the story of a demolitions expert returned home from the first Gulf War, whose past and present collide, as his vision fails. The story is told in text, photographs, video clips, and audio. It uses an interface that allows you to follow the action and shift between levels of awareness. As you read text on the screen, describing characters and plot, you draw your fingers apart and see a photograph of the protagonist, his eyes opening on the world. Pinch your fingers shut and you visit his troubled unconscious; words and images race by, as if you are inside his memory. Pry is the opposite of a shallow work; its whole play is between the surface and the depths of the human mind. Reading it is exhilarating.

There’s no question when you read (or play) Pry that you’re doing something your brain isn’t quite wired for. The interface creates a feeling of simultaneity, and also of having to make choices in real time, that no book could reproduce. It asks you to use your fingers to do more than just turn the page. It communicates the experience of slipping in and out of a story, in and out of a dream, or nightmare. It uses the affordances of your phone or tablet to do what literature is always trying to do: give you new things to think about, to expand the world behind your eyes. It’s stressful, at first. How are you supposed to know if you’re reading it right? What if you miss something? But if you play (or read) it long enough, you can almost feel your brain begin to adapt.

Most of the Web is not like Pry—not yet, anyway. But the history of reading suggests that what we’re presently experiencing is probably not the end times of human thought. It’s more like an interregnum, or the crouch before a leap. Wolf points out that when it comes to reading, what we get out is largely what we put in. “The reading brain circuit reflects the affordances of what it reads,” she notes: affordances being the built-in opportunities for interaction. The more we skim, the more we’re likely to keep skimming; on the other hand, the more we plunge into a text, the more we’re likely to keep plunging. “We’re in a digital culture,” Wolf says. “It’s not a question of making peace. We have to be discerning, vigilant, developmentally savvy.” And of course we have to be surprised, delighted, puzzled, even disturbed. We have to enjoy ourselves. If we can do that, digital reading will expand the already vast interior space of our humanity."
howweread  readin  albertomanguel  technology  reading  digital  internet  paullafarge  maryannewolf  web  online  staugustine  ambrose  nicholascarr  socrates  brain  agostinoramelli  history  attention  digitalmedia  rolfengelsing  rakefetackerman  morrisgoldsmith  johannesnaumann  dianadestefano  jo-annelefevre  hypertext  michaelwenger  davidpayne  comprehension  engagement  enjoyment  talyarkoni  nicolespeer  jeffreyzacks  psychology  memory  linearity  footnotes  marginalia  bookfuturism  information  wandering  cognitiveload  games  gaming  videogames  samanthagorman  dannycannizzaro  ipad  pry  interiority  affordances  interface  linear  awareness  immersion  skimming  cv  humanity  interregnum  interactivity  interaction 
january 2016 by robertogreco
The internet isn't harming our love of 'deep reading', it's cultivating it | Steven Poole | Comment is free | theguardian.com
"In our culture of excitable neuroscientism a lot of such arguments employ the sexy word "brain" and so sound scientifically objective, but they are really socio-cultural arguments. No doubt there are many kinds of task-specific neural developments (ie "brain" types) that have been lost in the mists of evolutionary time, and whose absence we have no reason to regret. Not many people in advanced industrial societies today, for example, grow up developing the mental skills required to kill tasty large mammals with a well-hurled spear. But we don't read hand-wringing stories about how we have lost the antelope-hunting brain. So there needs to be a further demonstration that the "deep-reading brain" is something worth valuing. And this is never going to be a (neuro)scientific argument; it's a cultural argument."



"And yet the assumption in such doomy pronouncements that we might all be slaves to skimming and thus be allowing our brains to atrophy sounds fantastically condescending, just as it did when expressed in Nicholas Carr's book The Shallows. This kind of paternalistic fatalism seems ably refuted by sales of Young Adult blockbusters, as well as by researchers who bother to find out what young people actually do.

According to John Palfrey and Urs Gasser's Born Digital, for example, a teenager's "news-gathering process" alternated skimming or "grazing" with a "deep dive" when she found something she could really get her teeth into.

And such nutritious, dense, lengthy pieces of writing are, of course, becoming ever more popular on the very same internet that pessimists blame for destroying our attention spans. More and more online magazine startups are devoted to in-depth reportage or cheerfully non-topical discussions of ideas over many thousands of beautifully typeset words. Ideal, you might even say, for slow reading.

For me, the only fly in the ointment is my insuperable allergy to the kitschy, infantilising generic term for such pieces, "long reads". (We don't call albums "long listens" or epic dinners "long eats".) The alternative, "longform", is simply oxymoronic – sheer length is not a form. What was wrong with "essays" again? Presumably the old-school littérateurs of the Slow Reading Movement could approve of that one."
reading  neuroscience  society  culture  attention  2014  stevenpoole  slowreading  distraction  nicholascarr  longreads  howweread  listening  grazing  johnpalfrey  ursgasser  skimming 
april 2014 by robertogreco
…your writing about him has a strange kind of ambiguity. …… I’m not trying to diagnose or accuse you… - a grammar
"Online writing & criticism tend to really lead the reader around by the nose — dragging horses straight to the water of the author’s opinion. It’s partly just the format…partly because of way people read online…skimmy & ungenerous: The average comments box is full of people who have clearly read text mostly in search of something to be critical or superior about. So it helps to be explicit…If you quote, for instance, a vile misogynist lyric, a lot of readers will be much more attuned to the question of whether you know it’s vile & misogynist — rather than the fact that they know it & don’t need you to tell them…

However: I sorta feel like “excoriating” pieces often suffer from the same problems of glib skimming, ungenerous interpretation, and easy superiority. Often it makes them a lot less excoriating than they want to be: They become little rallies for people who already agree with you, people who read words on the internet in order to be told what they already know."
nitsuhabebe  writing  online  reading  web  internet  skimming  groupthink  echochambers  commenting  reinforcement  ofwgkta  text  superiority  criticism  nuance  oddfuture  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
Why Online "Noise" is Good For You - ReadWriteWeb
"Social media noise is an essential part of learning and living on the web. Hear are some reasons why.: Unexpected opportunities, Future Needs, Maximizing Recall, General Knowledge, Personal Growth"
socialnetworking  socialmedia  noise  technology  complexity  serendipity  overload  aggregator  skimming  conversation  filtering  socialnetworks  lifestreams  learning  memory  rss  online  twitter 
june 2008 by robertogreco

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