They aren't? You mean five years' worth of bloggers' comments to this effect are correct? You mean that "digital natives" are a myth? Oh, the humanity!
In other news, Mark Bauerlein channels Nicholas Carr, but he also cites an interesting study from Jakob Nielsen:
Bauerlein, like Carr, concludes that "reading" web texts, Twitter, etc. is not "reading" as in reading Kafka or Tolstoy. Bauerlein's solution is a little more drastic, however: "Digital technology has become an imperial force, and it should meet more antagonists. Educators must keep a portion of the undergraduate experience disconnected, unplugged, and logged off."
Nielsen has gauged user habits and screen experiences for years, charting people's online navigations and aims, using eye-tracking tools to map how vision moves and rests. In this study, he found that people took in hundreds of pages "in a pattern that's very different from what you learned in school." It looks like a capital letter F. At the top, users read all the way across, but as they proceed their descent quickens and horizontal sight contracts, with a slowdown around the middle of the page. Near the bottom, eyes move almost vertically, the lower-right corner of the page largely ignored. It happens quickly, too. "F for fast," Nielsen wrote in a column. "That's how users read your precious content." . . .
In the eye-tracking test, only one in six subjects read Web pages linearly, sentence by sentence. The rest jumped around chasing keywords, bullet points, visuals, and color and typeface variations. In another experiment on how people read e-newsletters, informational e-mail messages, and news feeds, Nielsen exclaimed, "'Reading' is not even the right word." The subjects usually read only the first two words in headlines, and they ignored the introductory sections. They wanted the "nut" and nothing else.
I am not sure that digital technology is an imperial force. I mean, does it have a flag? Bauerlein has a point, though, about the rush to digitization. Can't we have both kinds of reading? Maybe the paper kind of reading needs a new motto.
Yeah, that's the ticket.