As teenagers' scores on standardized reading tests have declined or stagnated, some argue that the hours spent prowling the Internet are the enemy of reading - diminishing literacy, wrecking attention spans and destroying a precious common culture that exists only through the reading of books.Some months ago I posted a link to Matthew Kirschenbaum's article about the changing nature of reading in this wired age. Now Motoko Rich in the International Herald Tribune updates us on the debate being played out among educational policy makers and reading experts around the world.
But others say the Internet has created a new kind of reading, one that schools and society should not discount. The Web inspires a teenager ... who might otherwise spend most of her leisure time watching television, to read and write.
At least since the invention of television, critics have warned that electronic media would destroy reading. What is different now, some literacy experts say, is that spending time on the Web, whether it is looking up something on Google or even britneyspears.org, entails some engagement with text.
The big question, does literacy need to be redefined?