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Reading/Writing: Electronics or Paper?

I grew up writing with a pen/pencil on paper. And, have been a devoted reader of paperback and hardback books since my Grandmother taught me to read. She is also responsible for my love of reading.


Aside from rent, my largest monthly expense was, without a doubt, books. LOTS of books.


The same was true during years of education, including college. The books then were in print,, as were homework, tests, term papers etc.


Reading and writing have long been a true passion of mine. Books have taken me all over the world, into space, and to the depths of the ocean. I have gone back in time, and into the future.


Holding an electronic device in my hand does not compare to the feel of holding a real book in my hand or being able to smell the pages and the print.


As time has marched on, the invasion o f electronics began. While I embrace most aspects of technology, including digital photography and software to process photos. I did, however fight electronic reading and writing. I fought it for a very long time...


Sadly, due to necessity, electronic reading and writing has, to a large extent, taken over my life. I will readily admit that it does save money when one spends as much on reading as I do! The same has happened with newspapers. I rarely read those any longer in print or online.


However, I ask, is that all, truly, a good thing?


During my life, I noticed a couple of things about all of this. First, as I was reading or researching, I found I was not retaining the information as much as I did before. Second, I was not enjoying reading or writing as much either.


Even though my handwriting is horrible and makes translation a nightmare, I love writing wi th a pen; just the magic of seeing my thoughts becoming concrete on the page is incomparable to anything on electronics.


I also noticed something that was disturbing to me while studying for insurance exams within the last 3-4 years. Even though I had my insurance and securities licenses more than once in previous financial jobs, I just wasn't absorbing the information this time.


I had an "A ha!" during that timeframe. All through school and various jobs, when studying or learning something just reviewing anything, I would make notes or rewrite entire portions of the material.


While taking exams (either on paper or computer), I could "see" the answer in my head as if I had just jotted it down.


Very recently, I have been taking courses to refresh what I know about (copy)writing, journalistic writing, and photogrphay to keep myself informed and updated on improvements, changes, and so forth.


During one of those courses, a self-professed millenial noted they had recently started printing hard copies of papers. They stated that the nuances of the written word on paper had much more depth than the one-dimensional image online.


That prompted an "Aha! Aha!" moment as what I thought was validated.


So, with that infor simmering in my brain, I started doing some research to prove or disprove what I felt was true. What I found is comforting and quite disturbing. So buckle up and here we go...


In "The Fate of Reading in a Digital World" noted that Professor Naomi Baron conducted a study of over 300 University Students from the United States, Japan, Slovakia, and Germany. The group was given the opportunity to choose between "media ranging from printouts to smartphones, laptops, e-readers and desktops, 92% of respondents replied that it was hard copy that best allowed them to concentrate." Note 1.


In "4 Benefits of Wring by Hand," Chris Gayonmali notes this: Note 2.

  1. Writing is better for learning because it stimulates part of the brain called Reticular Activating System. Parts of the brain associated with learning light up when writing by hand.

  2. Makes you a better writer. 2009 study from the University of Washington supports this. They stated that elementary students wrote more by hand and quicker than peers on keyboard and with more complete sentences.

  3. Prevents distractions. No pop-up windows or social media alerts, for example.

Keeps your brain sharper as natural aging occurs. It's a brain work out, if you will. Writing engages motor skills and memory. Even learning foreign language characters and music notes are learned easier and quicker when handwritten, rather than online.


In a study conducted in Norway in 2013, 10th graders were divided in two groups. One group read two texts (1,400 - 2,000 words) in print. The other group read the same texts as pdf's. Those reading the printed papers significantly higher than those reading digital texts.


There is far more information out there to substantiate my experiences and the information shared here. In fact, the day I sat and wrote this up, a friend from my youth, share an article on Facebook. Note 3.


This is only to share much food for though. Click the last note to read the article referenced in the previous paragraph. After doing so, please feel free to share your thoughts or experiences with us.






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