Posted by: emmajoyce | November 12, 2012

In search of deep thoughts

In his book The Shallows, Nicholas Carr writes about the evolution of information distribution in its many forms, noticing shifts in relationships between authors and readers. He points to a Wallace Stevens poem, “The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm,” for its commentary on deep reading, and acknowledges how the Internet has created shorter attention spans, drastically cutting deep reading experiences out of daily routines.

Carr writes, “The bond between book reader and writer has always been a tightly symbiotic one, a means of intellectual and artistic cross-fertilization. The words of the writer act as a catalyst in the mind of the reader, inspiring new insights, associations, and perceptions, sometimes even epiphanies” (74). It is interesting to examine how e-books, online newspapers and magazines, Twitter feeds and Facebook posts allow for a layered, non-linear distribution of words, images, and sounds that has turned reading into a community-based, networked system.

While these social spheres can foster intellectual debate, collaboration, and a myriad of back-and-forth exchanges, I wonder if that sacred balance between author and reader has been disrupted.

I have always been drawn to the quiet calmness that books provide, but find myself enmeshed in an online world out of necessity. It is stimulating and informative and engaging…but reading from a screen will never trump the personal satisfaction of being alone with a physical book with nowhere to go but onto the next page.

Do you feel that online reading has diminished individual deep thinking and reflection? Why or why not?

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