Gregory Crane, Reading in the Age of Google
As staggering as some changes have been over the past twenty-five years, it is difficult to predict what we will be reading in fifteen, ten, or even five years’ time. Subsequent developments may be even more dramatic as old ways of doing things dissolve and a new generation, immersed in electronic information from childhood, takes its place.
The goals we pursue-the hunger for ideas, the desire to understand more, the delight in reasoned, evidence-based debate-will continue to find new modes of expression. Reading has been in flux since writing began to emerge four thousand years ago. The increasing mechanization of print facilitated a shift from intensive reading, where readers repeatedly studied a few texts such as the Bible, Vergil’s Aeneid, or Shakespeare’s plays to extensive reading where readers moved through one novel after another. This shift had many effects, not least of which was laying the foundation for modern democratic society. The restless, question-driven, active reading in the age of Google may lead to a shift that is just as dramatic.