Sarnidac the Dwarf wrote:
Then comes the next step, what she calls "classical reading". When reading a novel, we not only understand the symbols, but we can identify ourselves with the protagonists, we can, in a sense, "put ourselves into somebody else's shoes, become a tyrant or a killer, Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary. Classical reading opens a repertoire of insights into human nature, a kingdom of imagination."

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It's me, David Williams.

Six months is too long. I can't provide any language shifting evidence, but I do some "classical" reading every day, so the similar or shorter time spent reading "digital" e-mails, etc., does not affect my book-reading stamina.

However, this classical vs.digital reading may partially explain why so many readers of Web posts cannot interpret humor, sarcasm, anger, and so forth on the screen. There was an interesting program on PBS last night, part 2 of "Becoming Human" which proposed that one of the great evolutionary advances achieved by Homo erectus was the ability to perceive and interpret the emotions and inner thoughts of others in the social group -- thus, sitting around the campfire became a powerful bonding eperience, creating greater group cohesion and even leading to the development of language. Brief digital posts do not contain the same invisible content that social interaction or extensive in-depth reading provide. Thus, we cannot with certainty perceive the attitude or motive of the poster.

Fiction tells us that the speaker raised an eyebrow or pursed his lips; e-mail and posts lack this content.

And, I might add, since evolution has formed our brains to perceive the emotions and motives of others, when we read digital texts we automatically seek to find emotions and motives; it's difficult to accept a text as it is, without emotive interpretation. Perhaps in another 500,000 years we will have evolved the mental capacity to deal with digital texts.

Last Edited By: David B Williams Nov 11 09 5:07 PM. Edited 2 times.