fiction files redux discussion

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is this reading?

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message 1: by Matt, e-monk (last edited Aug 30, 2009 01:18PM) (new)

Matt Comito | 386 comments Mod
"BEREA, Ohio — Books are not Nadia Konyk’s thing. Her mother, hoping to entice her, brings them home from the library, but Nadia rarely shows an interest.

Instead, like so many other teenagers, Nadia, 15, is addicted to the Internet. She regularly spends at least six hours a day in front of the computer here in this suburb southwest of Cleveland.

A slender, chatty blonde who wears black-framed plastic glasses, Nadia checks her e-mail and peruses myyearbook.com, a social networking site, reading messages or posting updates on her mood. She searches for music videos on YouTube and logs onto Gaia Online, a role-playing site where members fashion alternate identities as cutesy cartoon characters. But she spends most of her time on quizilla.com or fanfiction.net, reading and commenting on stories written by other users and based on books, television shows or movies...."

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/27/boo...



message 2: by Martyn (new)

Martyn | 299 comments sounds like the rest of the planet...although I find a couple of hours to read every day.


message 3: by Dan, deadpan man (new)

Dan | 640 comments Mod
I would say that the biggest problem in the today's world is not the amount of reading but rather how it is considered and synthesized. I often struggle with the balancing of social networking, current events and work related articles. It seems to me that I process information and move on much more quickly with computerized reading than I do when reading from paper.

I think it is very important to reflect and analyze the information that we consume in order to form educated opinions. Technology has brought us more information than we can handle and as a result we are losing our critical abilities (or for kids, never developing them).


message 4: by Patrick, The Special School Bus Rider (last edited Aug 31, 2009 09:27AM) (new)

Patrick (horrorshow) | 269 comments Mod
Yeah, I still think it is important to read from printed books because in the digital age, text could easily be changed and people would read them and accept them as facts. Someday, terrorists or any enemies would be able to convince us that Osama Bin Laden killed everyone in the World Trade Center in 2001 then became the president of the United States in 2008...


message 5: by Brian, just a child's imagination (new)

Brian (banoo) | 346 comments Mod
Got thirteen channels of shit on the T.V. to choose from.
I've got electric light.
And I've got second sight.
And amazing powers of observation.


this article just reminded me of pink floyd's lyrics. we should choose our shit wisely. 'empty calorie' reading is fine if we are also reading our vegetables.


message 6: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments Seriously, I wont pass the part that printed texts have a begining, a middle and an ending. The person who wrote this actually reads? Ever read James Joyce? Or that guy Kafka? Or got his hand in an Encyclopedia. I was about to say Homer but he knocked at my front door explaning I should be listening to stories, not reading, since listening appeals to senses that printed (books as we know are only part of 10% of the history of literature, so I do care much about them) do not.
Then Poe told me : Hey, newspapers are created because I said a readers like a text he can get in one sitting! So, I developed the modern short story for people with short attention span! Poe, the father of digital age! Then I recall, New York Times ever asked himself why the most read stuff in the world in the last 2 centuries was newspapers. And we basically forgot all of that? Who is the one responsable for the infamous dumbing down? A 30 years old media or a 200 years old lame writing?


message 7: by Dan, deadpan man (new)

Dan | 640 comments Mod
Kris wrote: "Matt, you've posted two articles that have me cackling merrily at the end of the "civilized" world. Bring on illiteracy and the Dirty Underpants series! Go ahead and choose what YOU want to study, ..."

Bravo Kris, bravo!


message 8: by Matt, e-monk (last edited Sep 01, 2009 10:24AM) (new)

Matt Comito | 386 comments Mod
Jcamilo wrote: "Seriously, I wont pass the part that printed texts have a begining, a middle and an ending. The person who wrote this actually reads? Ever read James Joyce? Or that guy Kafka? Or got his hand in an..."

you touch on a good point:

when our experience of story telling was primarily aural/oral our minds worked differently than they do now or were used differently in any event and different mental strengths played a role in making society run the ways it did or didnt

when mass printing came into town things changed dramatically and society itself was in some ways influenced by these changes - the human mind came to be used in a different way and different strengths emerged while some decried what was being lost in the departure from a primarily oral/aural tradition

now we are undergoing another change in media delivery and new strengths emerge: for a (trivial?) sweep of breadth we may be giving up analytical depth (think on this: I, who am noone special, know a lot more about a lot of things than Dr Johnson ever did but on the other hand in a narrowly defined range of knowledge I could not compete with him - which is better?)

maybe it's not even a question of better because what does that mean? societies crumble and reshape themselves through these kind of changes - the world around us changes and a new generation with new moraes and strengths and weaknesses of temperament and acuity will emerge

and they'll have their own problems


message 9: by Jonathan, the skipper (new)

Jonathan | 609 comments Mod
. . . wide breadth is fine and dandy, but it's the details that compel and haunt us . . .there's nothing general about truth . . . the less specific we become, the weaker we become . . .


message 10: by Christopher, Swanny (new)

Christopher Swann (christopherswann) | 189 comments Mod
I've read that education in the U.S. is the broadest and the shallowest in the world, at least among major industrialized nations. We teach a little about a whole lot of things but sacrifice depth in order to do it.


message 11: by Andreea (new)

Andreea (andyyy) “I was trying to imagine this and I was like, I can’t do this,” she said. “It was just so — wow.”
That's why we should still read books instead of their summary on wikipedia, it's scary that a 15 year old (who dreams of becoming a published author) has such a limited vocabulary.


message 12: by Christopher, Swanny (new)

Christopher Swann (christopherswann) | 189 comments Mod
Nadia said she wanted to major in English at college and someday hopes to be published. She does not see a problem with reading few books. “No one’s ever said you should read more books to get into college,” she said.

Maybe I'm just a literary snob, but...seriously? I mean, hey, I love the Internet--and this group wouldn't exist without it--and computers and technology, but there is nothing on the Net as good as a good book. Nothing. Except maybe digital versions of books.


message 13: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
I wonder if course work in "English" has changed at the college level. (Or maybe majoring in English these days no longer includes Literature courses?)

I had one semester with almost 30 novels... 17 in one class alone (African Lit)...10 novels in Victorian Lit... and graduate level literary criticism, back when I was considering an academic career. Thankfully I had a night job.

Oddly, it was probably my favorite semester in school.

I think she might switch her major, don't you? To something less demanding...


message 14: by Christopher, Swanny (new)

Christopher Swann (christopherswann) | 189 comments Mod
Maybe. But fifteen is still young. There's a whole lifetime between fifteen and eighteen. I always knew I wanted to be a writer (at least since eighth grade) and figured being an English teacher was a good way to pay the rent until I scored my first novel. Then a funny thing happened on the way to literary fame--I realized I loved teaching. I remember when I was in my mid-twenties being puzzled by friends who didn't know what they wanted to do. And I think I was the outlier on that one.

Being an English major is a romantic idea, even when you're serious about it. I mean, really, you spend your whole time surrounded by great prose and poetry. You get academic credentials for reading and talking intelligently about books. And when you realize writing papers about those books is much, much harder than you realized, when you pull off a good paper, it's like getting a paycheck in the mail.

Most teenagers I know--and they're a relatively sheltered bunch in my suburban private school--are a curious blend of jaded naivete. They know far more about the world than I did at their age--especially at 14 and 15--but they have no experience against which to judge the world, and so their views of the world are, necessarily, incomplete. Which is good, because they're only 14 or 15. The really bright kids--my AP students--are brilliant and love reading. I assigned Beowulf and Jane Eyre for summer reading and they ate them up, especially Bronte (though some of them loved Beowulf as well).

And that's the difference--the reading, the desire to spend time alone with a book.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Andreea wrote: "“I was trying to imagine this and I was like, I can’t do this,” she said. “It was just so — wow.”
That's why we should still read books instead of their summary on wikipedia, it's scary that a 15 ..."


I thought you were quoting Sarah Palin.




message 16: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (last edited Sep 07, 2009 07:52AM) (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
Most teenagers I know--and they're a relatively sheltered bunch in my suburban private school--are a curious blend of jaded naivete. They know far more about the world than I did at their age--especially at 14 and 15--but they have no experience against which to judge the world, and so their views of the world are, necessarily, incomplete. Which is good, because they're only 14 or 15. The really bright kids--my AP students--are brilliant and love reading. I assigned Beowulf and Jane Eyre for summer reading and they ate them up, especially Bronte (though some of them loved Beowulf as well).

Great observation, Swanny. I think you're more in touch with that world than just about anyone here.

Jaded naivete. That about sums it up, even for me, if I look back at my teenage years. I recall having a lot of grown-up crap to deal with (some self-imposed, some not) but nothing to judge it against - is this good, bad? I didn't know and wouldn't have asked my parents if you had strapped me to a Clockwork Orange-style chair.

I escaped into books and music - which are better places to go than where other kids I knew went, places I flirted with but decided ultimately that being thrown in jail was not going to be good for the college apps.



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