Saturday, June 28, 2008

Old dogs and new tricks

Could walking into a room and forgetting why you came in there actually be a sign of wisdom? This New York Times article suggests older people have wider (not longer) attention spans, enabling them to think more creatively, retain more detail, and solve problems more effectively.
Take that, whippersnappers!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Good words

When a thing is funny, search it carefully for a hidden truth. – George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Son of my laptop ate my brain...

The wonderful Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. weighs in on our fading ability to sit patiently and read. Like me, Pitts has been finding himself dozing off over material that would have been a treat a few years ago.

I've decided to get back to reading books, at least an hour a day. (Shocking to make a program of something that used to be a guilty pleasure!) I hope to renew my ability to sit still and lose myself in nuanced material, without craving a hyperlink to another story, and then another, and then just one more...

Join me? Let me know how it's going for you. I'm heading back to Pierre and Natasha, and that little rat Napoleon.

Monday, June 16, 2008

My laptop ate my brain...

Finding it harder to concentrate on books these days? You're not alone. It might be that online reading is changing the way our brains work.

That's what Nicholas Carr's fascinating article in the current Atlantic Monthly explores. Carr writes:
Bruce Friedman, who blogs regularly about the use of computers in medicine, also
has described how the Internet has altered his mental habits. “I now have almost
totally lost the ability to read and absorb a longish article on the web or in print,” he wrote earlier this year. A pathologist who has long been on the faculty of the University of Michigan Medical School, Friedman elaborated on his comment in a telephone conversation with me. His thinking, he said, has taken on a “staccato” quality, reflecting the way he quickly scans short passages of text from many sources online. “I can’t read War and Peace anymore,” he admitted. “I’ve lost the ability to do that. Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.”

Uh-oh. My copy of War and Peace, bookmarked at page 390, has been staring at me sadly for several months now. How could I leave Pierre at the mercy of his steward for so long?

I think Carr may be on to something. How about you?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Good words

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. – E. L. Doctorow