The Internet and attention spans

My monthly guest article is up at Mad Genius Club.  (I’m not sure whether they regard me as mad, a genius, or the club – but I digress.)  It’s titled ‘E-books, attention spans, and the future of reading‘.  In it, I discuss how the Internet appears to have shortened our attention span (there’s abundant evidence for that), and how it’s changed the way in which we seek, absorb and dispense information.

If the subject interests you, please click over there, read it, and leave a comment.  I’m hoping to develop an online conversation on the subject.



  1. I've always had a pile of unread books. I've purchased ebooks almost exclusively since 2007 the exceptions were series books that I'd started and did not release in ebook format way back when.

    My current list of unread books is something like 80 books, some partially read, some are reference, or books that require some extra consideration.

    I often several books "active" for example I'm reading Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics – since I don't recommend books I haven't actually read I figured I'd better read it, even if I already know what's in it.
    I'm also teaching myself iOS programming, refreshing my understanding of Linux, and reading the Federalist Papers, and Captain Flandry-Defender of the Terran Empire. Depending on my mood, schedule etc.

    That number of books is not really significantly different than when I read exclusively paper books. Possibly a bit higher because I picked up a couple dozen public domain titles like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea for free. I'll get to them eventually.

    My current ebook collection is just under 1000 books.

    Then again, I've been working in the computer field since 74(part time) 84(full time) and I've been surfing the bleeding edge for a long time, although not so much anymore.

    I notice that I'm much more easily distracted in a web browser environment than in an ebook. Part of that is the freedom to follow my random thoughts triggered by what ever I happen to be reading at the moment. The downside is that it sometimes takes quite a while to work my way back to the starting point and sometimes I need to re-read it.

    That's the downside of providing links to external subjects – like Mad Genius Club which then links to other stuff – and Off We Go!

    It's kind of too bad we didn't get in the habit of making all external links footnotes, as I suspect that would limit some of the wild ride at least until the end of the article (maybe not).

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *