Words are all around us in one form or another. We read texts, emails, signs, books just to name a few. We may read something for a discussion or for a test that we want to commit to memory. There are also things we read that we forget as soon as we finish reading. Reading is available in many more forms today than in the past. It’s no longer just on paper. Since the 1980s reading on some form of technology has grown tremendously. Some even predicted that books would eventually fade away. In their articles Jabr and Keim discuss the different forms of reading available and the effectiveness of each.
Technology makes reading more convenient in many ways. It allows us to research information we are reading much easier and defines words for us with the touch of a button. We are also able to keep all of our books with us on just one device. Even with these benefits many people still prefer to read a paper book. In Jabr’s article “Why the Brain Prefers Paper” he tells us that “Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done” (2013). He explains that people approach reading differently on paper than they do on computers.
While there are many benefits to reading on a computer Jabr and Keim both suggest that computers have many distractions. Jabr says people “spend more time browsing, scanning and hunting for keywords compared with people reading on paper and are more likely to read a document once and only once” (2013). Does it mean that if someone is doing all these things while reading they aren’t cognitively receiving the information in the text? These examples sound like they would benefit the reader if they are using them to further understand the text.
Keim’s article “Why the Smart Reading Device of the Future May Be…Paper” suggests our lifestyles may be to blame. He states “We’re all so multitasked and attention-fragmented that our brains are losing the ability to focus on long, linear texts” (2014). The increase in technology allows us to do more in our daily lives making many of us busier than people in prior generations. The ability to focus on longer texts is something we should exercise in our busy lives. This is important whether we are reading a paper book or on a computer.
The way we process what we read on paper versus what we read on a computer is not the same. Think about the different styles of learning. There’s auditory, visual , and kinesthetic. The same information can be presented to us in different ways and depending on the way it’s presented we can learn something different each time. This would make sense when comparing reading on paper and reading on a computer. They look different, sound different, and feel different. Scientist Maryanne Wolf states “I would like to preserve the absolute best of older forms [reading on paper] but know when to use the new” (Jabr 2013). Both mediums for reading are beneficial and it’s possible that there’s a time and a place for both.
Jabr, . “Why the Brain Prefers Paper.” Scientific American 309.5 (2013):
Keim, Brandon. “Why the Smart Reading Device of the Future May Be…Paper.” Wired. May 1