Further to “reading as arcane hobby”

I was thinking about this idea of reading as “arcane hobby” and also of the great amount and skill in reading among 9-year-olds (though not among teenagers), and am wondering if the following may become (or perhaps has already become) the norm: books will be considered tools solely in the process of mastering the art of reading, for use by children only until they are able to to seek out disparate information from the Internet and other electronic sources, piecing these elements together into their own personally defined ‘story’.

Just as the notion of “the album” (and track order) is increasingly becoming irrelevant as music-seekers  download individual tracks and rearrange them as they see fit (or shuffled as their device sees fit), will the same happen to books and stories? Is it not plausible that the notion of an author-driven narrative will become obsolete if it becomes commonplace for surfers to be dropped into a story midstream after a Google keyword search?


One response to “Further to “reading as arcane hobby”

  1. There are a number of issues here.
    1. I think that we are always creating our own personal narrative, whether we know it or not. The fact that we read certain books or stories or articles in a specific order creates a pattern. If one is conscious of this process, then one could study the quality of the larger narrative it creates. Most people don’t, or just get used to the odd juxtapositions that this type of reading creates.
    1a. The tools now available on the web, blogging and the ability to keep an archive of one’s reading–one’s own personal library–allow one to keep track or store the pieces that make up this pattern.
    1b. Even Vannevar Bush, in “As We May Think” recognizes that a useful mechanized library would allow one to keep track of the “trails” that connect the different narratives one comes across and recognizes connections between.
    2. perhaps the art of reading is really the art of making or recognizing these connections.
    3. The author-driven narrative will always be in demand in some way, because of the need for fulfillment and closure. One does and can read small self-contained elements–poems, short stories, essays–becuse they contain a beginning, a middle, and an end in a short space–just as a song does. But, there is no point reading chaper 99 of Moby Dick without reading the rest of the book, because it will ultimately be unsatisfying with out the other hundreds of chapters.
    So, yes having control over what you have read is great, but it gives new powers, and allows new ways of reading, but it does not take away the reason for reading.
    However, it may be like FM radio. It plays the tracks, the movements of classical pieces, the type of portions of classical pieces that fit its format–i.e. small segments of muisc, not more than five minutes in length, not too demanding,

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