Until I started reading The Elements of Typographic Style, I never thought about the productivity aspect of why reading from a screen is worse than reading from a printed page. I’ve always thought/heard that the backlighting is killer (and, really, it does harm the reading experience, to an extent, at least any long reading). But it also makes sense what Bringhurst says: when we’re on a computer, we have a different mindset.
With the way technology is advancing, we are constantly looking for speed, speed, speed. For book reading, there is no default speed; it’s whatever your reading speed is. With a computer/iPhone/iPad/etc., there is Internet connection speed and processor speed and RAM and all that junk to worry about. It all affects the speed and enjoyability of the reading experience.
On a computer, we just want to get through as many things as possible, as fast as possible. We want to feel productive. With computers, and technology in general, becoming more and more integrated into our lives, that feeling isn’t going to change any time soon. With each new protocol and website and API and programming language (and so on), technology becomes more useful (or, in some cases, “useful”) and, thus, sucks up more and more of our time. The problem is that some of us (myself included, unfortunately) find ourselves unable to function if we don’t get our fix of political news on Twitter or mass messages on Facebook or TV shows on computer. Or just…whatever.
Technology is amazing, but it’s probably the most frustrating black hole since – well, since the black hole.
On that note, an update on my most recent time sucker: there’s been a bit of a delay on TwitTV, but I’m working on that in the next few days. I’m going with Smallville for the veteran show, and since Lonestar was cancelled (as I predicted elsewhere), my new show to follow will be No Ordinary Family, which premiered to more than 10 million viewers last night, even though the pilot has been online for over a month (I think that’s right, anyway). It may fall like a rock (like FlashForward did last year), but I’ll follow it for the long haul this season, even if that happens to be just a few months (in which case…maybe I could find something new in the spring).