tip off
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The Internet and the damage done (to story-telling)

We’re seeing more articles like this one in the Times:

Click, tweet, e-mail, twitter, skim, browse, scan, blog, text: the jargon of the digital age describes how we now read, reflecting the way that the very act of reading, and the nature of literacy itself, is changing.

The information we consume online comes ever faster, punchier and more fleetingly. Our attention rests only briefly on the internet page before moving incontinently on to the next electronic canapé.

Addicted to the BlackBerry, hectored and heckled by the next blog alert, web link or text message, we are in state of Continual Partial Attention, too bombarded by snippets and gobbets of information to focus on anything for very long. Microsoft researchers have found that someone distracted by an e-mail message alert takes an average of 24 minutes to return to the same level of concentration.

The internet has evolved a new species of magpie reader, gathering bright little buttons of knowledge, before hopping on to the next shiny thing.

I love that last line about magpie readers.

I can see the problem, but I think it’s about discipline. Avoid multi-tasking.

If you’re going to read books (and you should) or even long articles; you need to switch off the devices and focus.

Don’t worry, twitter will still be there – or something even crazier will have replaced it.

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  • 1
    Posted November 6, 2009 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Trevor,
    your work here, along with Crikey’s is on the internet and so it is click, tweet, e-mail, twitter, skim, browse, scan, blog, text. I am a magpie reader even though I engage with what you say. That means I cannot focus on what you are saying—according to you.

    If I twitter about this post —read Cook on the internet evolving a new species of magpie reader—I would link to this post–so I would drive readers to your work. Since I’ve lost my concentration—another tweet has come in–my attention span has wandered, and I’v forgotten what I was going to do.

    You do have a rather negative view of your readership.

  • 2
    Trevor Cook
    Posted November 6, 2009 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps, the length of most was challenging. You missed the point. I said it just requires discipline – don’t try and read books or long-form articles (over 1000 words) while you try to do a bunch of other things. A very uncontroversial point I would think. Why do they advise against txting while driving? D’Oh

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