Reblog: The Reading Brain in the Digital Age

The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens

This is an interesting article a friend of mine posted. I tend to agree that it’s easier to read and remember on paper–I always preferred to print out articles and read them for school. It was easier to highlight things and make notes in the margins. When I’m doing the research for a paper, I use coloured sticky tabs to mark all the pages that I want to quote or make a reference too (colour-coded by argument or section of the paper I want to put it in–why yes, I DO like things organized, I’m a librarian 😉 ). For pleasure reading, I do have a Kobo but I still own a lot (a lot a lot) of paper books. I find it difficult to scroll back and forth between pages, instead of just using a bookmark or sticking my fingers in between the pages, and my Kobo does not handles footnotes or endnotes well, and it’s terrible for diagrams and pictures. On the other hand, my Kobo means that I can fit 1000 books in my purse. That would be a tad more difficult with physical books (and pretty darn heavy too).

But, my generation was pretty much the first to grow up with computers being a part of daily life. I remember using a computer in grade four (DOS, shudder), but not really before that. We had a card catalogue in my elementary school library, and books were checked out by stamping the card in the back of the book (any youngsters reading this may pause and google that image). I was in high school before the internet became popular. I took notes by hand (still do). And my cousins’ children could play computer games before they started preschool, when they could barely scramble up onto the computer chair by themselves but they still knew how to manipulate the mouse and use the keyboard.

Ebook technology is still fairly young, despite how popular it’s become in just a few years. It’ll be interesting to see how it evolves to meet and exceed users’ needs. After all, even physical book lovers like me rarely use scrolls anymore, and we definitely don’t use stone tablets. I bet there were people hundreds of years ago, going “Why are you sewing all those scrolls together? They won’t roll up right. They won’t fit on the racks on the walls, or in the scroll jars. It’s too heavy. What do you mean, you have to look at different scrolls instead of just reading up and down? This will never catch on, mark my words! And get off my lawn!”


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