Print, Ebooks & Reading Comprehension

I’m not gonna lie—I do experience a wee bit of a thrill when I get to say I told you so.

OK, this isn’t really an “I told you so” moment… but this is something I’ve been saying for the past several years.

Paper Versus Pixel by Nicholas Carr (posted on Nautilus Quarterly, 2013)

This doesn’t really offer any new ideas. That print offers better reading comprehension than ebooks is something that’s been shown by quite a lot of data recently. The telling quote for me is this:

Some scientists believe that our brain actually interprets written letters and words as physical objects—a reflection of the fact that our minds evolved to perceive things, not symbols… The differences between page and screen go beyond the simple tactile pleasures of good paper stock. To the human mind, a sequence of pages bound together into a physical object is very different from a flat screen that displays only a single “page” of information at a time. The physical presence of the printed pages, and the ability to flip back and forth through them, turns out to be important to the mind’s ability to navigate written works, particularly lengthy and complicated ones. We quickly develop a mental map of the contents of a printed text, as if its argument or story were a voyage unfolding through space.

I told you so.

Internet Censorship: A Global Perspective

Given the blog I posted yesterday about CIPA, I think this is an important perspective to keep in mind:

A Map of the Countries That Censor the Internet by Casey Chan (posted by Gizmodo on August 13, 2013; found via Stephen’s Lighthouse)

This is not in any way to mitigate the irreducible importance of the freedom of information in our democracy. But the larger reality is that we’re far better off on this front than many other people in throughout the world. If anything—this makes upholding our own freedom all the more important, as an example of the benefit to society that it engenders.

CIPA, Censorship & the EFF

For the past few days, this article from the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been making its way through the library sphere:

The Cost of Censorship in Libraries: 10 Years Under the Children’s Internet Protection Act by Rainey Reitman (posted on September 4, 2013)

There’s much excellent material to go over in this piece. I have many reactions to it. The first and most important being this:

It’s not a library’s job to police people.

It’s not actually our job to act in loco parentis. This is one of the big differences between public libraries and public schools, and it’s something that many library patrons misunderstand. It’s not a library’s job to judge any patron’s information needs—it’s not even any of our business why they need it.

It is our job to provide access to information and to help people learn how to handle it in useful and healthy ways.
Continue reading “CIPA, Censorship & the EFF”