In response to a blog about the Internet being the death knell of reading, readers were asked to provide examples of students “who are both savvy in using the Internet and at the same time, deep readers of print”?
I found the phrase “deep readers of print” intriguing – both for what makes deep reading, and also whether such reading be done in print only.
The most basic of digital books is merely a transfer of text into digital ink. If deep reading involves books which might not have been digitised in this manner, then perhaps it is a matter of time the important classics (including those that are out of print) are available digitally. So, if gaining access to reading materials of depth is the essential first step to deep reading, then non-print books are in fact helpful.
Many digital books are of course come with multi-media materials and hyperlinks. Very often, this has been a case of adding these just because it can be done and not necessarily with clear thinking about how it might add value to the book. (Similar to when all manner of bells and whistles are gratuitously added to a slide presentation like having way too many fanciful fonts, tiring transitions and annoying animations.) In addition, with the multi-task friendly nature of digital devices, compared to print, digital books could suffer from “blinking cursors and beckoning hyperlinks” becoming a distraction to deep reading.
However, when used well, the non-textual and non-linear elements could enhance deep reading. Representing information in non-text forms do add new dimensions to thinking. Being able to determine the route through which reading is done could potentially deepen the reading too.
Perhaps, the easy access to such tools is till relatively new and thus the better uses of them in digital books might have yet to be exploited or even appreciated. And reading in a digital environment might require more (or would it be a different form of) concentration to fight off the many more distractions than reading a printed book.