sex drugs and intellectual freedom

Read Before You Write

Posted in blogosphere, reading, tech by A on 21 October 08

Joanne McNeil, of the wonderful Tomorrow Museum, has a great post about how the the rise of the iPhone, Kindle, and tablet PC’s might ultimately lead to a smarter commentariat.

Comments are generally impulsive, and she points to Marginal Revolution’s observations on the tendency of comment threads to deteriorate over time. Smart commenters and smart readers tackle fresh posts and move on; meanwhile, older posts’ threads are inevitably hijacked by two, maybe three, people. You know, the ones who somehow manage to take a post about, say, the oldest woman in Latvia’s stamp collection and use it as a forum to argue the exact shape of Karl Rove’s head. (“Bowling ball!” “No, watermelon!” “Reverse racism!” “Fascist!“)

What the iPhone, Kindle, and tablet PC’s have in common is their ability to split up all of the bajillion things we do while we’re online. By removing a common element from our online computing experience—like our keyboard or our mouse—we are sometimes able to sit back and actually read for the sake of reading, rather than reading for the next best out-of-context talking point we can drop some snark on. This, Joanne suggests, could lead to more genuine, reflective commenting because, let’s face it—if you’re curled up under the covers, reading blogs on your iPhone and you actually haul your lazy ass out of bed to flick on your desktop…you must have something worth saying.

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