From Lucinda Betts comes an article I reread a few times: The Future of Reading – digital or print? It examines the different types of reading that young folks (whippersnappers! oh, wait…) do these days – and they don’t mean ebooks, either. Digital reading is different from print reading, and there’s not really a sufficient methodology to examine, quantify or even include it as a different element of literacy:
Her mother, Deborah Konyk, would prefer that Nadia, who gets A’s and B’s at school, read books for a change. But at this point, Konyk said, “I’m just pleased that she reads something anymore.”
Children like Nadia lie at the heart of a passionate debate about just what it means to read in the digital age. The discussion is playing out among education policymakers and reading experts around the world, and within groups like the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association.
As teenagers’ scores on standardized reading tests have declined or stagnated, some argue that the hours spent prowling the Internet are the enemy of reading — diminishing literacy, wrecking attention spans and destroying a precious common culture that exists only through the reading of books.
But others say the Internet has created a new kind of reading, one that schools and society should not discount. The Web inspires a teenager like Nadia, who might otherwise spend most of her leisure time watching television, to read and write.
The example the article focuses on mostly is this young woman who is into reading and writing fanfic – and whether her activities are equal to reading, and all the benefits and superlative statistics thereunto pertaining.
Sidenote: That’s big enough of a question, but I have one more, which the article doesn’t really get into: what is it about fan fiction that is so alluring to so many people? Is it the community of active writers who are still involved in the narrative? Is it the participation in a group world that’s evolving and changing with each new text? Is it the critique and instant feedback from readers?
But dude, at what point does fanfic start earning some modicum of respect? Because gee whiz, the girl is reading and writing fiction, actively creating, you know, words and stuff, and that’s not quantifiable literacy? Damn.