TKC 455 Naomi S. Baron

Author of Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World

Interview starts at 10:33 and ends at 41:35

“Education increasingly wants to measure finite, little bites of stuff, and the digital technology that we are using in our education–and we have print versions of it, too–is tailored to these quick wins as opposed to a deeper level of learning.”


My new VR setup: Samsung Galaxy Edge S8 with new Samsung Gear VR + controller


“Amazon continues to grow lead over Google as starting point for online shoppers” by Taylor Soper at GeekWire – January 13, 2017

Scott Galloway bio

“How Amazon is Dismantling Retail” – Scott Galloway video – April 17, 2017

Tech Tip

How I improved performance on my Amazon Fire HD 8 6th Generation tablet

Interview with Naomi S. Baron

Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Namesake: A Novel by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters by Tom Nichols

The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax

Wonder by R. J. Palacio


Amazon Publishing’s summer-fall 2017 catalog (PDF)

Next Week’s Guest

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, author of The Doctor is In: Dr. Ruth on Love, Life, and Joie de Vivre

Music for my podcast is from an original Thelonius Monk composition named “Well, You Needn’t.” This version is “Ra-Monk” by Eval Manigat on the “Variations in Time: A Jazz Perspective” CD by Public Transit Recording” CD.

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Comments 2

  1. Wayne Choy wrote:

    Hi Len,

    I always get a kick out of academics who criticize Amazon or Bezos while having little or know knowledge about the business. One academic I know used to argue that library books were free. I reminded him that they’re subsidized by taxes, not free.

    As regards, this interview and her calling it dirty pool that she was going to have to pay for digital service while away on vacation, she must have been unaware of the facts.

    “The Post newspaper division had $582 million in revenue in 2012 and a $53.7 million operating loss.”

    As an academic myself I have seen that most of the Deciders in academia due to both age and disposition may be aware of the issues in some general way but lack any real direct experience with digital reading so they are ill equipped to set policy in any meaningful way even if they agreed with most of what advocates such as this author say.

    Lastly, having returned to college to get an additional degree over a decade ago I found that way too much reading is assigned by professors to the extent that even the best of students could not complete most assignments myself included. I attribute a lot of this to poor preparation on the part of teachers.

    In any case, this means students are under constant pressure to cut corners. Reading paper books more slowly may have some benefit, but practically speaking, I can’t see her conclusions, even if one agreed with them as having much impact. Plus audiobooks seem to have been left out of the discussion.

    I have found myself listening to books more and more rather than reading and have to assume increasing numbers of students will find this to be an appealing way to cover materials. There is so much available now that is so compelling and so little time to “read” it all. If people can read X amount of material her way with 90% efficiency or 2 or 3 or 10 times as much (including audio) at 80% people who want to read a lot are going to trend towards the latter. These numbers are just for the sake of argument but the issues need to be set in this kind of practical context and should also include all the forms of digital consumption.

    Best regards,
    W. CHOY

    Posted 22 Apr 2017 at 4:43 am
  2. Len Edgerly wrote:

    Listener Jean Remple from Paris had technical difficulties posting this comment, so I said I would do it for him:

    LEN: I thought Wayne Choy’s comment about Naomi was a bit unfair. Naomi made some very good points about how students read. And I think we have to ask and re-ask these questions. One point Naomi made, which I had never thought about, was that older readers like ourselves have acquired a way, a habit of reading that the very young have not mastered, and probably never will. I see this in my young friends who are often incapable of what Jung and Norrie Frye called sustained thought, or concentrated or directed thinking. Many of them are reading for information and factoids. In short, they don’t get the point. Or they want the point right away. I knew a Polish woman who always started a new book by reading the last page first. I know that Conan Doyle wrote his stories backwards, but this is no way to read them.

    Memory used to be a sign of intelligence. However, memory is not a sure sign of deep thought either. For example, pharmacists have an extraordinary recall for Latin-sounding nonsense names that silly copywriters and lawyers draw up for drugs. And I can’t say that I find the glow of genius in their eyes. They are pretty dull types, actually. They don’t know a Guelph from a Ghibelline. I am now looking at three boxes of drugs, bearing the unbearable and stupid names of Ciprofloxacine, Esomeprazole, and Alfuzosine. How absurdly absurd can one be to retain a patent?

    Concerning reading on paper, I have to admit and adjust to the fact that I cannot read lyric, elegiac or epic poetry on my Kindle either in portrait or landscape mode. I just need the damn book.

    And I cannot read anything on my computer screen, aside from emails, Wiki, the newspapers, and my own drivel.

    When I read David Foster Wallace’s INFINITE JEST, I seriously wondered what someone would have felt with a half-kilo lump of a book on one’s stomach, especially those nerve-wracking footnotes.

    Yrs, j

    Posted 23 Apr 2017 at 8:40 am