James Carroll ponders the evolution of reading and its impact on social organization (including democracy) in an intriguing column published yesterday. Here's a sample of what he has to say:
Once again, as occurred when the scroll became the book, innovations in technology that change the primal experience of reading are causing a shift in consciousness. Words on a subtly flickering screen come to the eye differently than from the page, and who knows yet what that difference does? The main note of interaction between readers and what is read electronically has become interruption, since the Internet, e-mail, instant messaging, talk radio, and even audio books all assume a simultaneous multiplicity of experience. Mutations inevitably follow in the way humans relate to language.
Whether silently or aloud, with interruptions or without, read the whole thing.