This is your brain on the Internet

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Has the Internet made us less attentive readers?

In this month’s Atlantic, Nicholas Carr admits he now has trouble reading books and longer magazine articles thanks, he speculates, to the Internet’s way of turning us into superficial information grazers.

In Slate, Michael Agger describes some studies that show how lazy our brains are online: they prefer short sentences, explanatory headlines, and bulleted lists, and they skip large chunks of text.

Personally, I still have plenty of patience for reading books and magazine articles, but only when I’m offline, and only when I’m not anxious about some other time commitment. Online, however, I’m exactly like the rest of us, erratic, impatient, unable to concentrate on (too) much at one time

I don’t know. When I need to do any sort of sustained writing or thinking, I try to close my Internet browser, though it isn’t always easy. Other times surfing the web is like keeping my eyes occupied while my mind searches for the right word or concept sometimes I find that it helps, and other times I’m probably just kidding myself.

What do you think?

2 thoughts on “This is your brain on the Internet

  1. As far as I understand it, the levels of brightness and contrast on an electronic reading device like the Kindle are vastly less than on your computer screen, which makes it easier on the eyes — and, presumably, puts it somewhere in between for focus and attention span.

    Personally, I’m quite attached to the tactile feel of paper and pages, but the few times I’ve played around with a Kindle, it was surprisingly easy to read.

  2. I’m not surprised! I thought the distraction was just me (adhd). Although I used to read a lot before the internet, I then tried to read everything I could online. Still, I have found it’s a lot easier for me to read a book in my hands than on the internet or my computer. I was wondering where the Kindle fits in–would I still get as much as from reading a book or would it still be like the computer.

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