13.0231 children, the Internet, ourselves

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Mon, 11 Oct 1999 06:12:19 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 231.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1999 06:06:21 +0100
From: "Michael S. Hart" <hart@prairienet.org>
Subject: Re: 13.0226 children, the Internet, ourselves

I am replying somewhat in the tone this was written,
please do NOT consider this inflammatory. . . .mh

> From: Willée <willee@uni-bonn.de>
> >
> re: contribution of david reed
> the opinion of d. reed that reading a text from a printed book is not at
> all different to reading it from a monitor is to be doubted, or better
> said: must be doubted. david obviously has a quite uncritical belief in
> technical progress as always being good and useful, forgetting in the
> case of reading texts the use of computers as a medium was a step
> backwards compared with the development of the techniques of reading
> printed or written material in history.

Actually, it is not up to doubting or personal opinions at all.
The next generations have already spoken, and I get email from
professors complaining that their students will not read from
any paper sources at all, they only read what is online. As
for their reasoning, it probably doesn't have anything to do
with the "fact" as YOU see them, they don't care about pixels
and refresh rates. . .they just want the information, fast and
easily searchable. . .pages?. . .got em if you want em. . .but
ANY kind of marker will do. . .who needs pages when you can do
a quick search for a few words that are as unique as page #s.

> it was a great revolution, when the romans began to replace writing
> texts on parchment rolls by writing them in volumina (bond books), where
> the navigation within the texts could be improved a lot. scrolling
> upwards or downwards was no longer necessary, one could aim more or less
> directly to the page or section of pages, where one wanted to read, one
> could go through the pages, stopping here, stopping there, going back
> directly to the place, where one was reading before, and so on.

Gee, didn't I start doing that with my computers back in the age of

> and now, in the golden (gilden?) age of computers we have to scroll
> again, all instruments for a proper navigation being mere crutches.
> moreover the quality of reproduction of text on screens is far worse

Not to mention recycled computers and monitors.

> than it normaly is on paper, even recycled one.
> in printed material the contrast is better, the density of pxels is far
> higher, there is no flickering (even if the latter might be no longer a
> problem in future).

With millions of colors, various persistences, refresh rates, etc.,
so anyone should be able to find something just right for them,
even though perhaps a longer search than Goldilocks had to choose
the right porridge and bed.

> the reading prosition as for books is better adjustable than as for
> computers (there ARE lots of problems occuring when working in front of
> a pc, an unknown fact for readers of books), and - last not least -
> making notes in a text one is reading is more or less impossible on the
> screen.

Right. . .there are so many unknown facts for readers of books,
as they haven't been around long enough for any REAL research.

I am sure there has never been any published research on how to
read best, avoid cricks in the neck, arms, hands, back, etc....

> only if one admits the differences and disadvantages of reading from a
> screen compared with reading printed material one can discuss the
> advantages or disadvantages - and the consequences for our thinking and
> intellectual behaviour - which will occur when using a pc for reading.

Obviously no one will have as much thinkgin and intellectualizing when
in front of a screen, as in front of books, papyrii, clay tablets, or
stone tablets. . .how could they?

> disabled people are no argument at all for the not-disabled rest of the
> world, as for those there are other conditions to be considered.
> otherwise one could suggest no longer to walk but to use these wonderful
> electrical wheel chairs, as they are so useful for people who cannot
> walk any longer.
> to close like willard: any comments?
You got em. . . .


So nice to hear from you!!

Michael S. Hart
Project Gutenberg
"Ask Dr. Internet"
Executive Director
Internet User ~#100

Humanist Discussion Group
Information at <http://www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/>