Over the past week, a few articles have caught my attention, all in one way or another addressing the future of reading. What if the future of reading isn’t so different from the present? Sure, in the future we may be floating in our anti-gravity reading rooms and whatever we’re reading will light up and talk to us, but I’m not convinced that the cognitive process will be very different. Most discussions of the future of reading are concerned about the content delivery, which matters, but isn’t as important as how we comprehend the content.
As we’ve seen with the Internet, although access to information has increased, the cognitive challenges it presents — locating information, evaluating sources, integrating concepts into a new understanding — are not very different from those of traditional literacy. Certainly the amount of information and the speed with which we access it has increased, and this most definitely places a heavier load on our cognitive process. However, literacy, whether practiced online or offline, requires certain cognitive skills that seem to transcend time and medium.
So, if my dream of living like the Jetsons is ever fulfilled, I will likely still be reading left to right, still struggle with synthesizing concepts, and still need to evaluate the credibility of the source I’m reading.