On the tactility of listening and reading

I want to make a note of two articles.

The first is ‘Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound.’

Karin Littau and Andrew Piper have noted another dimension: physicality. Piper, Littau and Anne Mangen’s group emphasize that the sense of touch in print reading adds an important redundancy to information – a kind of “geometry” to words, and a spatial “thereness” for text. As Piper notes, human beings need a knowledge of where they are in time and space that allows them to return to things and learn from re-examination – what he calls the “technology of recurrence”. The importance of recurrence for both young and older readers involves the ability to go back, to check and evaluate one’s understanding of a text. The question, then, is what happens to comprehension when our youth skim on a screen whose lack of spatial thereness discourages “looking back.”

and the other is an interview with David Sax in The Technoskeptic:

This was a point of time when I really moved most of my music collection, which was largely CDs at the time, and iTunes. I had got rid of all my physical music and moved to streaming. And then as a consequence of that, almost stopped listening to music. When it wasn’t there as a physical thing, music just kind of disappeared. And then shortly after that, a couple months later, my roommate at the time got his parents’ old record collection, and we started listening to this stuff and I became really sort of intrigued at what it was about, the records were pleasurable and it wasn’t the sound quality. And it wasn’t that it was such a great record collection, because it wasn’t really.

It was around the time that everybody I knew started getting their first smart phones. And really seeing the behavior of people changing in such a fundamental way, people suddenly ignoring you in the midst of conversations. Going out for dinner and everybody was just there with their heads down, responding to messages, which is something we now take for granted…. But at the time, it was just really stark, stark change. And also, at this time there was sort of the green shoots of what I was writing about, which is that these supposedly obsolete analog things were starting to see kind of new life and find new audiences and find a different sort of value in what they were, compared to what they were in the past.


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