Links to Think

Links to Think: 14.04.21

April 21, 2014


Serious reading takes a hit from online scanning and skimming, researchers say – Like many others who do a lot of reading both online and offline, this article was fascinating to me.

“Claire Handscombe has a commitment problem online. Like a lot of Web surfers, she clicks on links posted on social networks, reads a few sentences, looks for exciting words, and then grows restless, scampering off to the next page she probably won’t commit to.

“I give it a few seconds — not even minutes — and then I’m moving again,” says Handscombe, a 35-year-old graduate student in creative writing at American University.”

“But it’s not just online anymore. She finds herself behaving the same way with a novel.

“It’s like your eyes are passing over the words but you’re not taking in what they say,” she confessed. “When I realize what’s happening, I have to go back and read again and again.”

To cognitive neuroscientists, Handscombe’s experience is the subject of great fascination and growing alarm. Humans, they warn, seem to be developing digital brains with new circuits for skimming through the torrent of information online. This alternative way of reading is competing with traditional deep reading circuitry developed over several millennia.”

“Word lovers and scientists have called for a “slow reading” movement, taking a branding cue from the “slow food” movement. They are battling not just cursory sentence galloping but the constant social network and e-mail temptations that lurk on our gadgets — the bings and dings that interrupt “Call me Ishmael.””

“The brain was not designed for reading. There are no genes for reading like there are for language or vision. But spurred by the emergence of Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Phoenician alphabet, Chinese paper and, finally, the Gutenberg press, the brain has adapted to read.

Before the Internet, the brain read mostly in linear ways — one page led to the next page, and so on. Sure, there might be pictures mixed in with the text, but there didn’t tend to be many distractions. Reading in print even gave us a remarkable ability to remember where key information was in a book simply by the layout, researchers said. We’d know a protagonist died on the page with the two long paragraphs after the page with all that dialogue.”

Why Modesty Is Wrong – I’m not a fan of the title (because I am a fan of true modesty), but this article provides some food for thought on the “purity culture” and “modesty police” and how these often create false guilt and actually leads people to obsess over thoughts they would otherwise find easier to avoid. This article just scratches the surface; I’ve seen far too many men (and women) turn this into an obsession that both leads them into sin and/or creates great shame about one’s body (my personal experience).

“On the surface, the intentions of the Modesty Lifeguards appear pure. They want to protect men and women from sexual sin. But the assumptions that lie under the surface are inconsistent with a Christian worldview. Two issues, especially, need to be addressed.”

“How do we guard against the reverse-objectification of women and the strangely parallel emphasis on powerless, oversexed men? There are ways to navigate out of this gnostic heresy and reclaim an appropriate appreciation of our beauty, humanity, and freedom.”

“If we can move away from the shrill condemnation of the Modesty Lifeguards and return to a positive view of clothing, we may find ourselves both more beautiful and more appropriate to living as valued persons, honoring and respecting one another. God wants every one of us to reflect him in the earth. Objectifying our beauty dehumanizes all of us. Fearing that our beauty is too much for others to handle shames us and others.”

I’ve been blessed by this song over the past few weeks:


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