Digital technology is actually fuelling a love of literatureby Frank Furedi / October 22, 2015 / Leave a comment
Since the 1950s discussions on the future of reading frequently draw on the rhetoric of crisis. With the emergence of the internet the narrative of anxiety that dominates this discussion has acquired an increasingly pessimistic dimension. Technophobes frequently contend that the arrival of digital media has reduced attention spans, leading to despair about the “end of the book” and the “death of the reader.” Some experts go so far as to insist that those immersed in online experience risk losing the power of concentration necessary for serious reading.
Historically the debate around reading has been disassociated from reality. So when in 1956 the American weekly, the Saturday Review asked “who is to blame” for the “plight of contemporary reading” there was little public recognition of the fact that sales of books were flourishing, and that despite the advent of television, reading remained a popular past time. A similar pattern is at work today. Time and again, digital technology is blamed for declining standards of literacy. Yet surveys conducted indicate that many intensive users of the new media—particularly of the internet—read more than the average person.