At Comment is Free, Susan Tomes picks up on an item I also posted about - Steven Johnson's scepticism at reports on the decline in reading. Allowing that he may be right to be sceptical, she still worries about this supposed effect of the internet:
Young people are not getting into the habit of reading long texts such as novels. Immersing yourself in a long book breeds habits of concentration over a long span. A great deal of novel-reading pleasure lies in our gradual comprehension of an unfolding plot.I don't know what the effects of the internet are on the reading of novels and I doubt if Susan Tomes really does either; I mean, the internet specifically - as distinct from how watching TV and DVDs, and listening to music, and reading newspapers, and watching sport, affect the reading of novels. In December I suggested some reasons for thinking that time spent on the internet 'can interact benignly with reading books'. In any event, since the internet is here to stay, the only thing one can do if one is concerned about a decline in novel-reading is to use the internet to encourage more of it. Just as Susan Tomes does in fact, writing a blog-post, rather than a novel, to make her point. What a felicitous name, though, for making that point!