Reading and Writing: No Longer a Lone Frontier?

Reading is a sensual experience. The smell of the book… It’s touch… It’s presence. Text is absorbed into your brain and a world expands in your mind. Your own voice narrates within the walls of your skull creating the world as you see fit…a world of reprieve. Your interaction with the author, with the characters, with the stories is personal, intimate.

But this is not the future of reading according to an article I came across recently.

According to the article, the future of reading is not as solitary an endeavor as it has been since its inception. The world of reading, purports Bob Stein, is being given a face lift to keep with the times. Interactive books are replacing traditional texts, including audio and visual enhancements. Writing, too, is moving to online social interaction for writing, commenting, and creating ideas alongside other people.7658272558_1d83fa7b32_z

I caution jumping on this bandwagon. Call me a Luddite, call me old-fashioned, call me what you will, but there is something about the lone process of reading and writing that beacons us to be more than ourselves, to create more. Anyone who has never identified with a character, cried for them (or with them) or laughed with them just isn’t reading the right way or the right books. And if a person has never explored a topic they are writing, thought about it from all perspectives, gotten to know it, discussed it, well, I say they haven’t been writing properly either.

I am not against evolving the process of reading/writing, nor am I here saying that technology cannot give something to it all. More than anything, I fear for the romance I experience I feel with a book in my hands, for the life I live between pages, for the spiritual process I go through when I write. I fear that if we delve head-on into this New Age, we will lose something…something akin to Enlightenment. I am not ready for that. At least not yet.

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8 thoughts on “Reading and Writing: No Longer a Lone Frontier?

  1. Robin Shaw

    I read the same article.
    I agree books have their value and are a precious experience; not just reading the book itself, but the act of reading and the feelings that come with that. Unfortunately, reading and writing has already changed.

    I am reminded of being taught cursive handwriting by my grandmother when I was a child. She used to buy me a calligraphy set on my birthday almost every year. My penmanship was excellent and I thought this was a skill I would need throughout my life. But cursive is dying. Nobody wants to learn it or use it like they once did.

    Although I have a strong nostalgic feeling for cursive writing, I have to accept that in a few generations, it will probably be gone. What I thought to be an essential skill will be thought of as an archaic mode of communication or recording of thoughts.

    1. I often think of how cursive is treated as a dying skill and like to believe it just has a horrible P.R. agent. I exclusively write in cursive, it is needed for signatures, and, boy, does it feel good when you can read the fancy letters on that label.

      In all seriousness though, I really believe in the traditional book and wonder at what point is a book with video and audio become a movie with in-screen “text support”?

      I do see the change in reading in the younger generation as well as in myself, in writing as well (i dnt lyk the writin side tho. tbh). When I was young, I could sit with a book for hours, but now reading to retain is more difficult, sitting for more than twenty minutes with a book in my hand is a challenge, and getting to the end of an online article leaves me mentally taxed.

      I’ve been on a reading binge the last three months and have finally repolished my “antiquated” ability to read and interact with books.

  2. I also have seen many situations where the process of reading and writing is changing due to technology. Instant messaging was a big thing with my high school students and still is with my present students. My high school students had their own “code” they used. Everything was abbreviated or shortened. LMAO and many other abbreiviated responses have become common place. This occurence definately doesn’t add to the evolution of the writing process.

    1. Or does it? I think proper writing needs to be learnt, but knowing the online jargon goes into linguistic self-identification. Jargon is communication within a specific group, like jobs, groups of friends, other cliques. It should not necessarily be disregarded based on negative connotations in the academic sphere, instead I think we should at least make the difference known to students and let them know when and where to use it, or how using it in certain ways can reflect on them.

  3. Mark Kennedy

    I once heard a comedian say about using the apostrophe and how that basic grammatical skill no longer seems to matter in this day and age. He joked that he would like to have the time that it took to learn that particular skill back.

    I still love holding a book or a newspaper in my hands, but if they are going to disappear to be replaced by something new then so be it. I will still have them on my shelves next to my iPad or whatever device we will plug into our heads in the future.

  4. Igor

    I think if we consider the different reasons for reading tech assisted reading could be a real help. A group reading of material could help students to aggregate knowledge and perhaps discuss the topic real time. That would be really cool for telecommuting classrooms.

    I think that cathartic type of reading that you are talking about will always be a round and I agree keeping tech out of that is a good idea.

    1. I see what you mean. I do not necessarily disagree with new forms of books or that the experience of reading/writing will be completely lost, but I think that if we make reading and writing completely collaborative, people might not be able to understand or produce as well apart from a group. I think both are reflective processes and a skill that can help you in adulthood. Personally, reading and writing have really helped me shape an understanding the world independently of others’ biases and influences.

      In the article, there was a teacher who said that their students were able to understand the character better because of the other things added to the text like a movie, which is fine. But I think that it takes higher order thinking to really analyze, understand, and imagine a character. If we can do this in literature, it will be an invaluable skill when dealing with other people in real life.

  5. stevekatz

    It seems that writing in cursive is becoming a political issue as schools decide to no longer teach it. Some of the reasons given to teach it fall into the category of “I learned it when I was your age.” I really don’t have a strong opinion on this, but I do think there are a lot more practical skills we could be teaching.

    As I said in class, I do prefer reading a “real” book. There is nothing like getting absorbed by the text. On my device I always want to “take breaks” in the form of other apps, and it is easy for me to become distracted.

    Great post Erika. It has generated a lot of interest.

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