Efficiency or Zen?

As technology revolutionizes the way we interact, live, and move, it also revolutionizes the way we learn and receive an education. With the new and improved devices from the popular tech-companies of 2018, not only is the way we are learning is being improved but the way we are being taught it is being improved. Teachers can now have access to numerous technological devices that can aid in their lesson planning as well as contribute to class participation. Additionally, students can use these new technologies to aid in their school work and learning processes. After reading, Kristen Purcell’s, Judy Buchanan’s, and Linda Freidrich’s work, “The Impact of Digital Tools on Student Writing,” I learned more about how a technological presence can be both productive and unproductive in the classroom. Teachers found that technology allowed their students to expand on their education outside of the school: “96% agree (including 52% who strongly agree) that digital technologies “allow students to share their work with a wider and more varied audience.” Students are so immersed in technology both in-school, an outside of school, as they use messaging, social media platforms, texting, and use other forms of communication. Therefore, the immersion of writing in this technological era we live in is more groundbreaking. However, some of their tendencies to abbreviate, write in the informal language or send gifs and memes, transposes to an informal writing style: “an increasingly ambiguous line between “formal” and “informal” writing and the tendency of some students to use informal language and style in formal writing assignments.” A strong technological presence outside of the classroom can cause a comfortability with technology which can cause relaxed writing tendencies in a serious school setting. With screens being placed in front of a student’s face for hours and hours per day, some teachers like to lessen the digital intensity in the classroom by encouraging handwritten assignments: “Almost all AP and NWP teachers surveyed (94%) encourage students to do some of their writing by hand.” The presence and use of handwriting and maintaining tangible documentation can be monumental in a world that is so digital, and this can most definitely be seen in how technology is affecting reading and other literary fields.

While technology is revolutionizing the education system of 2018, it is also greatly affecting numerous businesses, industries, and lives. We can see how technology is affecting the reading hobby and industry in the New York Time’s article, “How Technology is (and isn’t) Changing our Reading Habits.” Through the interview with Alexandra Alter, a reporter in the book industry, we learn about how ebooks and Kindles are both positively and negatively affecting small businesses, stores, online companies, and families. For Alexandra Alter an avid and dedicated reader, the hustle and bustle of her home life with her children has her utilizing digital books for ease, efficiency, and practicality: “[T]he Kindle is incredibly convenient. I have all my books on a single device that I always have with me. I read advance copies of books that way: Publishers send me digital copies through NetGalley or Edelweiss, sites where book industry professionals and critics can get digital copies of books before they’re published.” For Alexandra Alter, she enjoys the helpful extensions that come with digital books: “I like that e-books are searchable, which is helpful for fact-checking, and the device stores all my notes and highlights, so I can quickly look stuff up when I’m writing. And I can read with one hand on a crowded train.” The light-weight devices with endless extensions for web searching allow for efficiency in her hobby and her job. In addition, so many resources are available at once. At first, digitalizing the reading industry has negatively affected bookstores and paper-back prints, however, the opposite is occurring: “Print is holding steady — even increasing — and e-book sales have slipped.[…] One possible reason is that e-book prices have gone up, so in some cases, they’re more expensive than a paperback edition. Another possibility is digital fatigue.” As there is practicality in having all of your books accessible on one device with several media applications, there is a somewhat unnatural aspect to reading that may be distasteful for more ‘organic’ readers. The ‘indie’ bookstores that are popping up here and there are increasing in popularity, as there are some comfort and ‘zen’ to holding a hardcover novel. In such a digitalized world, Alexandra found that reading paperback books is a way to escape from the tech-savvy world we live in. Although, as online companies such as Amazon are skyrocketing and as more tech-lovers buy books on their Kindles, we find our most beloved brands to be suffering. Barnes and Noble, a safe haven of my childhood where I used to play with puppets, eat rice crispy treats, and read a book, is now losing traction with the everchanging digitalized world. We see in this article that “[…] it made a huge and, in retrospect, unwise investment in digital hardware and its Nook device, and then tried to become more of a general-interest gift and toy and books store, which probably alienated some of its core customers. Lately, it has tried smaller concept stores, with cafes with food and wine and beer. There was some snickering online after its new chief executive announced that its latest strategy was to focus on selling … books.” Ultimately, Barnes and Nobles is working hard to keep up with the times, but it will always be a favored brand.

Through Alexandra Alter’s perspective, we can now textualize how fast our digital world is moving and how it is affecting the reading industry and the lives of dedicated readers. Additionally, we see how these technological advances may be positively impacting the practicality and efficiency of reading, but we can also see the interpersonal relationship humans have with tangible texts. This can also be seen through Kristen Purcell’s, Judy Buchanan’s, and Linda Freidrich’s perspective in their work with the Pew Research Center, as technology is affecting the writing and education of the future generations. Overall, technology is revolutionizing the way we read, write, and learn, and it is a matter of balance and proper digital citizenship that it can positively affect the masses.

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