Another Tired Ereaders Might be Bad Article

I was glancing through my RSS feed today and Marc Cortez (theology prof at Wheaton) linked to a yet another Wired article about the problems of ereading and how the future of reading is probably paper.

These ebook vs paper articles drive me nuts. How many times are editors going to publish the same article. (I am a stay at home Dad and I didn’t have time to pull up more articles cause the baby is crying.) The author talks about how they are afraid they are not retaining as much, they love the convenience of the kindle but are concerned about the long term ramifications.

Then they link to a bunch of studies (mostly from the late 80s and 90s) comparing retention when reading paper books and reading on computer screens. Then make some connections about how kindles (or generic ereaders) may not be the best thing for reading (when absolutely none of the research looked at reading on a kindle or any other ereader).

And recent versions of this same basic article have included a couple paragraphs at the bottom saying that more recent research that has looked at eink devices (and sometimes even computer screen reading) and it shows no real difference in retention. That it comes down mostly to preference and comfort level.

And oh, by the way there is some research that smaller eink screens actually helps students that have ADHD or dyslexia. So the whole point of their article is basically null.

There are some articles actually look at what benefits and problems of ereaders are.  But they are few and mostly anecdotal.  Because as far as I can tell, almost no one is exploring ereading outside of computer screen reading.  Who exactly read a novel on a computer?  But that is the assumption of many of these articles.

2 Comments

homemakersdaily May 2, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Why do people do that? Do your research, for Pete’s sake!!!

And that’s a good reason why statistics shouldn’t ever be taken at face value. “Who reads a novel on a computer?” No one!!! Statistics are only as good as the ones compiling them and the research done to back them up. I get tired of articles like the one you described that aren’t right.

    I do believe that in these cases (and a lot of medical reporting) the problem isn’t the science, it is the reporting. So reporters take an easy idea (in this case steal the idea from Nicolas Carr) and then find stats and connect them to a trend, regardless of whether the stats really are relevant to the trend you are looking at.

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