Essay Advantage Book

Just as we learn that certain features—roundness, a twiggy stem, smooth skin—characterize an apple, we learn to recognize each letter by its particular arrangement of lines, curves and hollow spaces.Some of the earliest forms of writing, such as Sumerian cuneiform, began as characters shaped like the objects they represented—a person's head, an ear of barley, a fish.

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Studies published since the early 1990s, however, have produced more inconsistent results: a slight majority has confirmed earlier conclusions, but almost as many have found few significant differences in reading speed or comprehension between paper and screens.Some researchers see traces of these origins in modern alphabets: C as crescent moon, S as snake.Especially intricate characters—such as Chinese hanzi and Japanese kanji—activate motor regions in the brain involved in forming those characters on paper: The brain literally goes through the motions of writing when reading, even if the hands are empty.How do our brains respond differently to onscreen text than to words on paper?Should we be worried about dividing our attention between pixels and ink or is the validity of such concerns paper-thin?In turn, such navigational difficulties may subtly inhibit reading comprehension.Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done.Perhaps his daughter really did expect the paper magazines to respond the same way an i Pad would.Or maybe she had no expectations at all—maybe she just wanted to touch the magazines. Young children who have never seen a tablet like the i Pad or an e-reader like the Kindle will still reach out and run their fingers across the pages of a paper book; they will jab at an illustration they like; heck, they will even taste the corner of a book.How reading on screens differs from reading on paper is relevant not just to the youngest among us, but to just about everyone who reads—to anyone who routinely switches between working long hours in front of a computer at the office and leisurely reading paper magazines and books at home; to people who have embraced e-readers for their convenience and portability, but admit that for some reason they still prefer reading on paper; and to those who have already vowed to forgo tree pulp entirely.As digital texts and technologies become more prevalent, we gain new and more mobile ways of reading—but are we still reading as attentively and thoroughly?

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