Another dot in the blogosphere?

What holds us back?

Posted on: April 17, 2014

It is not that I take pleasure in pointing out how the local press likes to make the worst of online trends, habits, or phenomena. It is that they do it with such regularity and without a balanced view that I have to point these things out.

A recent STonline headline reads Click. Scan. Search. Scroll: Deep reading is hit as our brain adapts to online scanning and skimming. The headlines points less to the fact that we might be adapting and more to deep reading (a newspaper perhaps?) taking a hit.

I do not know anyone who reads a newspaper from the first page to the last. I wonder how many people read an article deeply as a writer or editor might want.

Skimming is also something newspapers are designed to promote. The long columns and single line paragraphs are not accidents!

The sad thing is that our press has wide local reach and a fair share of conservative readers. These are the same readers who, whether they read deeply or skim, are not aware of alternative points of view. Alternatives published elsewhere at other papers like The internet isn’t harming our love of ‘deep reading’, it’s cultivating it.

These days we have no excuse for not being better informed. Not when the information is so readily available. It is human bias that holds us back, not the the technology.

These days we also have no excuse for ensuring our children are better educated when information is so readily available. In this case it is also fear, indifference, or inertia that holds us back.

2 Responses to "What holds us back?"

Another point of view:
‘…Dowling feels that these “Romantic” critics mischaracterise the nature of pre-digital reading, and that they’re too apocalyptic about digital reading’s implications. They advocate a return to “linear” deep reading, but Dowling argues that was never the case. Nineteenth century texts, for example, were often demanding, densely allusive works which required outside knowledge in order for the reader to appreciate them. The reader needed to return to texts in order to understand them more fully and on a richer level—a practice which Dowling terms “radial” or recursive reading.’

In short, our idea of reading and writing in the past is inaccurate (see


Thanks for sharing the links, Hsiao-yun.

The HASTAC writer mentioned how Dowling referred to hyperlinks as “ecosystem of interruption technologies”. But I wonder if they might actually promote broader and deeper reading.

My simplistic way of thinking is this: When you shared those links in your comment, it allowed me to look beyond the two newspaper articles I had initially. This broadened my resources.

In clicking on those links, I learnt more about the history of reading, e.g., being more radial in the past. That deepened my understanding because of deeper reading.

Of course not everyone will see it that way. That is why I think what holds us back is human bias. If I refused to accept an alternative, I would not have clicked on it.


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