Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Deep reading

I've not been posting for a while because I've been on a long break in Nepal and Tibet - but somehow or other a complete break isn't quite as complete as you might think. Noticing the impact of the digital on everyday life seems to have become a way of life, and I found myself observing and photographing the different ways in which devices and texts are woven into lives that on the surface at least seem rather different. This is a monk at Boudanath, Kathmandu reading  a Tibetan scripture on an iPad as part of a devotional practice - one of many examples of how digital texts become absorbed into cultural practices. Reading Will Self about the impact of new technology on what he calls 'deep reading', I found myself recalling this image. Is this 'deep'...or did it suddenly become shallow because its read on an iPad? Clearly not. But of course, in an otherwise intelligent and nuanced piece, Self is actually equating the immersive experience of reading fiction with depth. Although he offers a balanced account, and is certainly not bemoaning the rise of digital text, there is a sadness in his tone. He thinks we have lost something. If he's right, though, its not depth we've lost, but a way of accessing imagined worlds.

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