critically think, reflect and understand what they are reading • Considered a critical skill for fully comprehending complex ideas • Medium of reading changing • Average American spends more than 8 hours a day looking a screen, just 20 min at books and other printed matter1 • Recent commentators have argued that distracted online reading has changed our neural pathways, potentially making deep reading a thing of the past. • See Atlantic article: “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Why is Deep Reading Important? 1. “As technology advances, deep reading suffers,” Nicholas Carr, San Francisco Chronicle, June 20, 2010.
Highlight interesting sections, write thoughts on margins • Move to a distraction-free environment • Sit on a comfortable couch • Go to a Library, café, park, etc. • Switch off cell phone • Use noise-cancelling headphones • Sip on a warm drink to get into the “reading zone” • Social support: book clubs, study groups • School assignments/deadlines, cold calls Non-tech approaches
(e.g. hit “F11” on your favorite browser) • Reformat online article to more readable font & background, remove clutter (e.g. Safari Reader) • Remove advertising from webpages (e.g. AdBlock) • Save articles for more focused reading later (e.g. Evernote) • Use tablets/e-readers that make you focus on one task at a time • See what others have highlighted in the books you are reading (e.g. Kindle’s “Popular Highlights”) • Engage in an online book-reading community (e.g. Goodreads.com) Tech approaches
it difficult to read something that’s not pithy, exciting or funny • “I used to be able to read anything – I think I’m just out of practice!” • “My mind wanders if the article or book isn’t exciting or funny.” • Desktop/laptop computer is distracting; iPad/tablet seems to allow better focus • “I prefer the iPad to reading on the computer, as it only allows me to do one task properly at a time.” • Search capability while reading on a device is a strong plus • “Prefer online reading since I can quickly search for specific ideas to understand/review.” • “If the language is dense, I need to re-read over and over until I get it – being able to jump to specific areas of the text very helpful.” Insights from Interviews
phones vs. plain old paper? • Recent commentators have argued that distracted online reading has changed our neural pathways, potentially making deep reading a thing of the past. Is this true? If so, can calming technology avert this? • Is it possible to design calming technology to help people practice and develop deep reading skills? • How critical is it to address outside distractors that are not directly related to reading, e.g. social forms of stress? Questions to Explore