Books were good at developing a contemplative mind. Screens encourage more utilitarian thinking. A new idea or unfamiliar fact will provoke a reflex to do something: to research the term, to query your screen “friends” for their opinions, to find alternative views, to create a bookmark, to interact with or tweet the thing rather than simply contemplate it. Book reading strengthened our analytical skills, encouraging us to pursue an observation all the way down to the footnote. Screen reading encourages rapid pattern-making, associating this idea with another, equipping us to deal with the thousands of new thoughts expressed every day. The screen rewards, and nurtures, thinking in real time. We review a movie while we watch it, we come up with an obscure fact in the middle of an argument, we read the owner’s manual of a gadget we spy in a store before we purchase it rather than after we get home and discover that it can’t do what we need it to do.
To me, the most powerful thing about blogging is having this constant outlet that leads to critical reading of almost everything. What’s interesting is that while Kelly is right that new ideas do promote a reflex (just like his article has done for me right this second), the act of creating the content on top of it is actually where the contemplating happens for me. In trying to turn something I found interesting into a post I’m forced to contemplate what and why it matters.
[PS – Sorry for the bad title … I couldn’t help myself.]