A collection of short reflections on the future of reading, including those from Ellen Lupton, James Bridle, Erik Spiekermann, and N. Katharine Hayles. Independently, none of the essays are especially compelling; but collectively, they reveal our shared unease (the loss of print, increased distraction, information overload) and make clear that none of us has any idea what the future will bring. Which, of course, is what makes the future interesting. Unfortunately, the typesetting (words are colored in different shades of gray depending on their frequency of use) is interesting in theory but incredibly annoying in practice; perhaps it is an attempt to prove that a stubborn reader will suffer through even the worst of reading experiences in order to get at the words?
Katherine Hayles points out the oft-overlooked fact that there is more than one (right) way to read:
[Is] reading on the web making us distracted, as Nicholas Carr has argued, or in the more extreme view espoused by Mark Bauerlein…making us stupid? Such arguments overlook the fact that strategic reading practices have always included skimming and scanning, as any scholar can testify. The trick is to have a repertoire of varied reading techniques and the experience to shift to one or another depending on the situation.Gerritzen, et al., I Read Where I Am, page 83
Emphasis mine; I’ll go one step further: not only is skimming a kind of reading we can (and should) choose to use, it is the ideal method for dealing with an abundance of reading. When there is much to read, and you want to get to as much of it as you can, skimming is essential. So perhaps our increased agility with skimming is not so much a product of a distracted lifestyle, but of increased abundance—a practice brought on by the wealth of text, not the poverty of attention.