The New York Times had an interesting article yesterday on how the internet is changing reading. Long story short, it seems to decrease attention spans and lead people to cut to the chase more. The picture at the top of the column is indicative of this; starting with books, moving to newspapers, and finally going to laptop computers.
I think that I have found this to be absolutely true. While I still love books, I think that I have gotten less patient for the hardy prose of yore and prefer a quicker, Dan Brownian style. It's not that I won't read the wordier books, but I don't jump at them like I used to. The area where I notice it even more though is when I am reading articles on the internet. I will start a column, then open up a new tab and get something else loading while I'm reading. I skip around a lot more than I used to in newspapers, shooting from column to column to the point where I'm actively trying to refocus my energies on a single thing at a time. Multitasking is great, and I think you can get a lot of information very quickly by scanning the internet, but you don't get the deep knowledge of a subject that you can from buckling down and focusing on a specific topic. As a result, you may not analyze what you need to, which could cause problems. Now I think there is a place for both styles of reading, even from the same person in the same position, but at different times. It's just a matter of working to use both styles to help get more rounded than you otherwise would. So far, I think it's worked pretty well for me, although I have a ways to go yet before I get back to where I don't jump around between a bunch of different tabs, even when I'm in the middle of writing a blog post or doing something where I need to keep on one train of thought for a while. Does anybody else have thoughts? Has the internet made you more scattered (or multitasky)? Is it a force for good or evil? Etc etc?