“The Dumbest Generation”? Depends whom you ask…

I’m at Book Expo America in LA this week, so here are a few random thoughts and links that I”ve stored on the shelf:

A thought-provoking piece appears in the current issue of Newsweek, called The Dumbest Generation? Don’t Be Dumb, discusses a new book by Mark Bauerlien of Emory University: The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30)

The reviewer writes:

It really aggravates him that many Gen-Yers are unapologetic about their ignorance, dismissing the idea that they should have more facts in their heads as a pre-Google and pre-wiki anachronism.

Here’s a contrary perspective from another author, who happens to be the moderator of the session I’m currently sitting in (“Scaling the New Economies: In Search of Book Publishing’s 2.0 Business Model”)

In “Print Is Dead: Books in Our Digital Age” – published in hardcover last November, and now available for the Kindle – author Jeff Gomez challenges authors and publishers to think creatively about the new medium: “It’s not about the page versus the screen in a technological grudge match. It’s about the screen doing a dozen things the page can’t do.” Digitized words should count for more. “What’s going to be transformed isn’t just the reading of one book, but the ability to read a passage from practically any book that exists, at any time that you want to, as well as the ability to click on hyperlinks, experience multimedia, and add notes and share passages with others.”

So we seem to be moving towards a grazing style of literary consumption, and away from the more traditional “three square meals a day” paradigm. It’s now possible to read a few pages of your favorite novel on your iPhone while in line for the ATM or in the airport departure lounge. Or listen to it on your iPod. That is if you’re not too busy Twittering…The whole world is suffering from digital ADD.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/138536

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121115298895702155.html?mod=todays_columnists

For an opposing view on the digital future, involving a Print on Demand offering see this letter:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121193712530024831.html

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