May 30, 2010

Article of the week

From Nicholas Carr; read it slow:
Imagine filling a bathtub with a thimble; that’s the challenge involved in moving information from working memory into long-term memory. When we read a book, the information faucet provides a steady drip, which we can control by varying the pace of our reading. Through our single-minded concentration on the text, we can transfer much of the information, thimbleful by thimbleful, into long-term memory and forge the rich associations essential to the creation of knowledge and wisdom.

On the Net, we face many information faucets, all going full blast. Our little thimble overflows as we rush from tap to tap. We transfer only a small jumble of drops from different faucets, not a continuous, coherent stream.
He's definitely on to something. When I'm online, I'm usually doing seven or eight things at once, and my attention span is drastically shortened. (There's even an acronym for it: TL;DR--too long, didn't read.) I don't think there's much wrong with that, but it does sometimes come at the expense of my long-form reading time. It's important to make time for that sort of concentrated learning in addition to internet time. I just got a package from a friend back in the states, so I'm looking forward to recommitting myself to some books.

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