IS READING IN DECLINE?
Has the written word surpassed its usefulness? Marc Prensky thinks most books are too long, for starters.
A 2007 study by the National Endowment for the Arts found three distinct trends:
- a historical decline in voluntary reading rates among teenagers and young adults
- a gradual worsening of reading skills among older teens
- declining proficiency in adult readers
The study added "a fourth observation: frequency of reading for pleasure correlates strongly with better test scores in reading and writing. Frequent readers are thus more likely than infrequent or non-readers to demonstrate academic achievement in those subjects."
Not everyone is panicked about the findings, however. Author and blogger Steven Johnson writes that the study was biased against computer reading, citing a British Library study of onscreen research activities which found that "'new forms of 'reading' are emerging as users 'power browse.'"
Johnson also points out that "novel readers may have declined by 10 percent, but the number of bloggers has gone from zero to 25 million." While blogging has certainly increased, a 2008 survey by Technorati found that only about 5 percent of blogs had been updated in the previous 120 days.