Distractions 2. Reading 0.

6 03 2012

People showing up in my Twitter feed seem to think this is a brilliant response to the NYT article on reading e-books that I wrote about this morning:

We notice when we are distracted by some newfangled app on a Kindle Fire. We do not notice when we are distracted by vacuuming the rug or going to watch television or daydreaming. Having read thousands of books in my day — on paper — I can assure you that the phenomenon of getting distracted while reading a book is not limited to e-books.

Of course that’s correct. It’s also beside the point.

You can get distracted by vacuuming or daydreaming when you try to read a physical book. You can also get distracted by vacuuming or daydreaming when reading an e-book on your Kindle Fire. You cannot, however, open a new window on your browser and check your Facebook feed when reading a physical book unless you get up out of the chair and turn on your computer or your phone. The Internet is an immediate distraction when you’re reading on an Internet-enabled device. When you are reading a physical book, it falls into the category of all the other things that you might be doing should you close the book and choose to do them.

For those following along at home, that’s two kinds of distractions that make it hard to read an e-book and only one kind of distraction when you’re reading from paper. Teaching students in a literary discipline facing one kind of distraction is hard enough. Do we really need to face another one too?


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