Wednesday, May 30, 2012

War of the Words

Kindle Fire
The ongoing “war” between the printed word and e-readers has been waging for some time with pundits declaring print “DOA.” While other camps in whole or in part cherish the printed word and view electronic books and their associated readers with suspicion.  The ongoing animosity between these camps of readers has received a lot of media attention. However, what hasn’t gotten a lot of attention is the fact that most people who own e-readers still actually read physical print as well.  Seems like at times, the news media looks for controversy where there isn’t any, and then builds it towards some impossible conflict of worlds or viewpoints.

Enter a recent Los Angeles Times, American Viewpoint, USC Dornsife and Greenberg Research survey of people who use e-readers.  The poll found that that while people enjoy their e-devices; be they Nooks, iPads, Kindles, etc, that ninety-percent (that’s 90%) still read printed books most of the time.  Only 10% of those surveyed said that they’ve given up traditional books in favor of dedicated e-readers. Although about half of the 90% of those surveyed who said they read the printed word, said that they split their reading between traditional and e-reader technology.

Interestingly, the amount of education one has does play a role in your attitude towards the use of technology for reading as well as for other things, like faith and god belief.  Those with higher levels of education are less likely to believe in a supreme being, follow the tenets of a religious faith, and are more likely to question authority and search of answers outside of faith or biblical interpretation and tradition.
Alice - In Print
According to the survey, more than 7 in 10 college-educated respondents said they read, “a lot”, while only half of those with no college said they did.  However, as the survey projected, those with a college education are more likely to use an eReader than those with some or no college education.  The survey also found that those who own eReaders read more often and more varied media, including more print books.  “About 4 in 10 said that they devoured four or more books per month.”

Age also plays a factor in terms of how much you read and how one reads, based on the survey results. Younger adults (18-29), according to the survey results, read as much or more than expected, reading just as much as those who are 50 or older.  Those who are younger view themselves as having more varied reading options, including access to e-Readers on laptops, phones or other mobile devices. They also show a marked higher acceptance of technology and are also more open to technology in general.

The survey was conducted in March of this year with 1,500 participants.  All of whom were of voting age, 18 or older.  Of all those surveyed, 6 in 10 self-reported that they’re frequent readers while almost the same amount said they read for pleasure. This number was similar to those who were 50-64 years old.

Alice - On an iPad
What matters most is that people read!  Whether the reading is for business, education or pleasure, and regardless of format, the more connected you become to humanity.  Reading helps one become a better thinker and a better writer.  The more one reads, be it online, in print or via an eReader, the more liberated they can become.  Especially, if one reads the works of Darwin, or Krause, or Dawkins, and Hitchens, amongst many others.  Even if you’re not a huge reader, but just prefer to read blogs (mine or others) then at least you are cognitively attempting to expand your horizons or at least learn, develop or verify your own ideas and conclusions.

Read for the sake of reading!  That’s the way to get smarter, to learn about the universe and how we exist in it as a species. It’s also the way one can liberate oneself from a faith-based reality.  This is why scholarship outside of the interpretation of scripture (aka Theology) is not considered a virtue in many of the world’s faiths.

I conclude that reading science or learning about life through secular literature expands the mind and frees one to be more learned and understanding of the world. It also allows us to be more empathetic, showing that humans do share most of the same qualities, hopes, ambitions and dreams although we may use different language to express them. 

1 comment:

  1. I've been addicted to the printed word since I learned how to read and I've been an omnivorous reader ever since. I became an atheist at 10 when I realized, through reading about various mythologies, that the fantastic stories in the Bible were no more than valid than any of the others.