Distractions, distractions, distractions! How am I ever going to finish this damn book without moving to a remote Scottish village, a mountaintop cabin in New Mexico, or a Colorado ghost town without the internets? Ironically enough, the internets have a lot to say these days about how the internets are scrambling our brains and changing our understanding of our own humanity.
- First, we see via a link from Karin Wulf (@kawulf) Maria Konnikova’s “How to Be a Better Online Reader,” which argues that readers haven’t learned to cope with the distractions of reading online. According to Maryanne Wolf, “‘Physical, tangible books give children a lot of time,’ she says. ‘And the digital milieu speeds everything up. So we need to do things much more slowly and gradually than we are.’ Not only should digital reading be introduced more slowly into the curriculum; it also should be integrated with the more immersive reading skills that deeper comprehension requires.” In other words, reading comprehension is shaped by factors other than the words on a page or a screen–the materiality of the text is fundamentally important. But instead of chucking out our screens, we have to learn to adapt and teach online reading skills to our students.
- Next, over at Religion in American History, Laura Arnold Leibman writes about her digital humanities course, American Dead and Undead, and discovered through her work with her students that the internet is changing the ways in which Americans perceive and experience death: “Since I am primarily a scholar of early America, we deepened my own sense of what is happening right now, and for me this was the most interesting aspect of the course. Most scholars of twentieth-century American death hadn’t historicized the advent of the digital age, and we discovered this was their loss. The internet, my students argued, changed everything, including how we mourn and our sense of eternity.”
- Finally, @GayProf reminds us that a Comcast account has joined Death and Taxes as inescapable. Pro Tip: If you want to disconnect from Comcast, tell the “customer service” rep that you’re moving out of the country. It’s the only way to avoid a lengthy argument and get on with your day.
- Small offline accomplishment: I finally uprooted and threw away all of the unwelcome yarrow in my garden! It has taken me all summer to do this, but I did it and now it’s done. ProTip: Never plant yarrow. Ever. It is the internet spam of your garden. It becomes a voracious carpet four inches thick that will swallow everything good and decent that you have nurtured, including potentially pets and small children.
Now, I really, absolutely, indisputably must get back to chapter six and tend my relationship with some dead eighteenth-century women. Memo to myself: break up with adverbs. (I use too many adverbs in my first drafts, and maybe in my final drafts too. Do you?)