Whenever I’m at the grocery store I do something that’s kind of old fashioned: I buy magazines. Yep. Magazines printed on glossy paper that have titles like Time, Bloomberg Businessweek, and The New Yorker. Sure I can get the same thing online for free, but there’s something about reading the physical copy of a magazine that I really like. Maybe it’s like people who like reading books printed on paper rather than a Nook or Kindle. Me? I’m pretty open to both when it comes to books, but for some reason, I like leafing through a magazine. Sure, the iPad and the new color Nook both have the ability to render text and images in a stunning way, but it all seems so… transient.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I like reading things on devices (i.e., computer, iPhone, and the Nook), but there’s something about reading an article, book review, or even a book that feels more permanent. Maybe it’s because works printed on paper don’t come with access to email, the Internet, Twitter and Facebook. Maybe it’s because the printed word on paper demands your attention. Or maybe it’s because when you read something printed on paper, you’re in a different head space; one that disciplines your mind to be less A.D.D. and more focused.
How about you? Do you feel that reading on a computer (that’s connected to the Internet) gives rise to a shorter attention span? I’ve found that my ability to focus on a book for a long period of time has diminished — and I used to be a guy who could really tear through a book in short order. Not that speed has any special virtue, but my retention of what I read was much higher. Now, it seems, I’m taking in a lot of information, but very little of it gets stored in my long term memory.