Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Why Can We Read Novels But Not Websites?

Much is said about people’s short attention spans. Someone recently asked why we are able to read novels, but we aren’t able to read websites. It made me think a little. What are the major differences between these two types of reading?

Here’s what I came up with. We can read a novel anywhere, but a website requires a computer. When reading a novel, we have a well-defined goal of getting to the end of the book. With a website, we have no starting point and no ending point, so we can stop whenever we choose. With a novel or even a non-fiction book, we are reading to learn what the author has said. With a website, we are looking for one piece of information like a needle in a haystack. Once we find it, we declare ourselves done and move on.

What other differences can you think of between the two forms of reading?