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I think at its core this issue is all about ease and speed vs. the classical idea of gaining knowledge through a long, pondering struggle of the mind, equally involving pouring over ponderous texts and memorizing facts.

As far as the lightning speed of modern information technology, I must admit to be alarmed at that- I feel that my attention span has become so deteriorated in recent years that I find it very difficult to complete reading books. I haven't even finished reading this article (though I shall do so later). Certainly shortened attention spans + greater access to information -> absorption and retention of only a shallow subset of knowledge would be a great danger.

Frankly, I'd like to see lifehacker-type articles that propose ideas to rebuild attention spans and teach memory techniques. Sort of blunting the anti-intellectual effects of prolonged exposure to the internet. I'd like to think that proper guidance, discipline, and training is the cure to anti-intellectualism. Perhaps that is something that Confucius would have approved of.




Years ago I read about a study with college students. They had one group read a book each night until they no longer wanted to read. The other group was told to do the same, but then to make themselves read just one more page. The latter group reported that they read more and more each night, and found their attention span increased significantly.

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