Within the developed world, much of society experiences political, economic, and cultural life through a set of communication technologies barely older than many citizens. Society Online: The Internet in Context examines how new media technologies have not simply diffused across society, but how they have rapidly and deeply become embedded in our organizations and institutions. Society Online is not exclusively devoted to a particular technology, or specifically the Internet, but to a range of technologies and technological possibilities labeled "new media." Rather than trying to cover every possible topic relating to new communication technologies, this unique text is organized by how these new technologies mediate the community, political, economic, personal, and global spheres of our social lives. Editors Philip N. Howard and Steve Jones explore the multiple research methods that are required to understand the embeddedness of new media.
Chapter 13: Wired and Well Read
As technology and as a cultural phenomenon, the internet moved from “high” to “popular” to “mass” with extraordinary speed during the 1990s. The sudden flood of e-everything produced giddiness but also alarm. Observers have worried about the internet's uncontrollable broadcast of images and sounds, its penetration of privacy, and its impact on how people live their lives, including how they read. The comparison with television is unavoidable. For some 50 years, people have feared—justly, it turned out—that television would overwhelm other leisure activities, including reading. Now the worry is that the internet will wipe out what little reading remains.
This chapter examines the relationship between internet use and reading. “Reading” here refers to nonwork reading, ...