Thursday, September 17, 2009
Steven Johnson discusses some of the the pros and cons of our increasingly "skim and plunge" manner of reading in the introduction to "Best technology writing of 2009", (edited by Johnson), which looks like an interesting compilation. Those who follow this issue will have read many of the essays before, but nice to have them gathered in one place. It includes (of course) Nicholas Carr on Google and stupidity, and Sullivan on blogging (which he memorably describes as "writing out loud"), among others. Johnson sees a parallel between the erosion of deep, immersive, contemplation to "the mass migration from the country to the city that started several centuries ago in Europe: the bustle and stimulation and diversity of urban life made it harder to enjoy the slower, organic pleasures of rural living. Still, those pleasures didn't disappear. People continue to cherish them in mass numbers to this day." That thought - but without the optimistic bit at the end - was also developed by William Deresiewicz' in his essay The End of Solitude) Whenever the issue of distraction comes up, Seinfeld's "Men don't care what's on TV. They only care what else is on TV" comes to mind. Speaking of which, check out Google Fast Flip - a great new masculine way to read...or skim and plunge, rather. It let's you see the other pages right up front, without having to turn them first.