How to read in an age of abundance

A Reading Note

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.

Related books

A collection of short reflections on the future of reading, including those from Ellen Lupton, James Bridle, Erik Spiekermann, and N. Katharine Hayles.