The Atlantic’s July/August issue (wow – time flies!), features this article that wonders whether Google is “making us stupid.”
In the article, author Nicholas Carr discusses, inter alia, a study by University College London that suggests that “we may well be in the midst of a sea change in the way we read and think.”
As part of the five-year research program, the scholars examined computer logs documenting the behavior of visitors to two popular research sites, one operated by the British Library and one by a U.K. educational consortium, that provide access to journal articles, e-books, and other sources of written information. They found that people using the sites exhibited “a form of skimming activity,” hopping from one source to another and rarely returning to any source they’d already visited. They typically read no more than one or two pages of an article or book before they would “bounce” out to another site. Sometimes they’d save a long article, but there’s no evidence that they ever went back and actually read it.
It would be interesting to see a study done on whether lawyers, who need to both find AND read a great deal of material carefully and well, are bucking this trend. I guess their clients hope so…