Everything’s on all the time. We’re go, go, go. Attention spans are short and our readers have more, really good options than ever before.
The Medium – August Birch
I hear people lamenting far too frequently that no one reads novels anymore. They say serious reading has become non-existent in this age. But, as usual, I disagree. In fact, I expect reading has become more prevalent now than it has been in the last hundred years! I know I read much more now than even a few years ago. The Internet has opened up so many sources of knowledge that I simply don’t have enough time to consume as much as I would like. 🙂
Before I get started on meat of this post I want to call out one of my primary sources of reading material and that is The Medium. The site continually sparks my imagination more than most others in cyberspace. In a recent post at the medium August Birch made the suggestion that authors make their book chapters less than 1500 words! He argues that authors can no longer take chapters to relay a one paragraph long thought. I thoroughly agree with that.
The Internet has opened up a new world for those who take the time to study about it. It is there whenever I want or need it. I no longer have to get in a car and drive to a building full of books and search for perhaps hours to answer any question that pops into my mind. There are now literally millions of stories, commentaries, and opinions that will broaden my horizon literally at my fingertips. But, I do have to parse through the trash and outdated stuff to get to them.
Because of all those resources I, as a blog author, need to make it easier for you my reader to gain the insight of what I have to say. I have been completely in the retirement mode for some time now and even I don’t have enough time to browse everything I want. So, I can imagine that my readers who are still stuck in 40+ hour work week will take more than a minute or two browse RJsCorner before they move on to other things. With that in mind I put a 500 word limit on my posts. Once in while I exceed it but only when necessary. If the idea I want to convey requires more than that I cover in it more than one post.
This year, I have become enamored with poetry. A good poem of a couple hundred words can speak to me more than a 500-page novel. Being able to tell your story in such a concise manner takes a discipline that I want to get better at. Volume does not imply quality, at least not anymore.
8 thoughts on “Go, Go,Go…”
We may be reading more but like the way we eat, more much of what we (over) consume is “junk”. It’s all “fast food information”. It makes us unhealthy.
No time to enjoy it. It does not really enrich us. We are all information fat with no real knowledge muscle.
Thanks for the thoughts Bob. One thing I particularly like about RJsCorner is that we can disagree with each other on some particular topic and still agree on many others. That seems to be a rare circumstance in the world today.
I look at it the other way around. Long drawn out text is layer of fat surrounding the meat of the topic. Carve away all that fat and you get to the point much sooner. Yes, I understand and even take pride in the fact that I am a Jack of all trades. I cover an expansive variety of topics here on my corner. I call that diversification. I certainly understand that sometime we must be the master of one topic and that requires a very detailed look. I spent four years studying electrical engineering. It was boring but necessary to be proficient in my chosen profession. I certainly hope my doctor, lawyer, etc did the same thing but it takes diversification to make a person well rounded and a good citizen.
I agree that good information can often be reduced to it elements and still retain the needed detail to get the [proper] point across. Things should be made simple enough to educate but not so simple that the essence is lost.
But if what you are reading is junk, worthless information, it does not matter how short you make it – it’s still junk. Based on what is admittedly a small sample I am very cynical about what many (most) of what people are actually reading. I think the percentage of people who are reading stuff like the Medium (I was a subscriber) and other healthy information is rather small (20%?) part of the reading population. I do not consider most newspapers/newsfeeds “healthy information” in the context in which we are speaking.
If all you consume is junk food – even in moderation- it is still not healthy.
That was my point.
I still think reading a whole book is important [at times] as you have no idea how someone has edited and abridged the information to fit their bias.
I certainly agree that if all you consume is junk info then it is worse than nothing. From your list I am having trouble figuring out what you think is valuable? I spend probably half my reading time trying to stay up with the current events of the world. I guess you don’t see much of that as being of worth? Exactly what is it that we should be reading more of?
I do agree with your final thoughts. We must always be on the lookout for those who are disregarding the facts in order to sell you their warped views. I put #CO3 in that category, so I spend little time even glancing at what he says anymore. I admit that when you google almost any topic those types of things are there. It takes experience, and trusting the right sources, to glean through the trash in order to find the treasures and truths. But from looking at history that seems to always be the case.
Thanks again Bob for the thoughts and your willingness to discuss them.
I am amazed at how much is available. My 11 yr old grandson has two books going at all times. He also has one that he listens to. He is writing video game scripts and drawing characters ( reminds me of the kids who used to draw comic books). He loves simple poetry- and listens to my dad’s tapes of his poetry. I think good poetry is written by people with experience. The best poets seem to have moved to a minimalist thought, where every word is smithed. No need for filler. The tool of thinkers and dreamers ( my dad often said). Keep writing 🙂
Thanks, Janette for reinforcing my belief. There is just so much information available today to be almost overwhelming to think of the possibilities. Your grandson sounds like a true 21st century person. He will be well-prepared for whatever he chooses to do.
You described exactly what I have found poetry to be and what I particularly find so attracting.
So I have a question. Just to be sure we have the same “operational definition”. What is “serious reading” to you? You disagree that “serious reading has become non-existent in this age”.
What is serious reading to you? I only ask as I see serious reading as reading a book – the whole book. Getting lost in the story, in the characters, and enjoying the “fat” of the book. in essence that is what a novel is all about. If it is non-fiction serious reading would be, to not only get the essence, but read the examples, see the source material, see the details, really get into the authors mind a bit.
Short, quick reading is fine but is that “serious reading”? I’m an engineer like you so I like facts and information but is the purpose of reading just to get facts or is it something more.
I guess I’d say that if what everybody wants is “quick hit reading” then “serious reading” is dead.
To me serious reading is reading things to better understand the world and maybe make it a slightly better place for all of us. It means improving how I live my life. Except for my first dozen years, I have never been much of a reader of fiction. Novels are meant to entertain and I guess I get my primary entertainment from movies and TV. For instance the recent series on Netflix about Queen Elizabeth was entrancing because of the pictures and sound, than reading a thousand-page book on the subject.
Since the word “serious” means so many things I think I would rather call it “deeper reading” and I do much that. I read many many snippets if you want to call it that, that get me to investigating a subject further. Several of those topics are now included in my “Special Projects” category as shown in the header of RJsCorner. This year alone, I have read 22 books on various topics that have gained my attention. Except for volume, I don’t think I am that unusual in that regard.
I guess to close this out, I want to summarize it from my viewpoint. “Snippet” reading results , at least for me but I suspect others also, in studying more subjects at a “deeper” level than I would without it. It opens the door to more possibilities than ever before.
Thanks again for this discussion.