Thursday, July 16, 2009

Google Listener

On opening my Google Reader, I find myself staring at several hundred unread blog posts and magazine articles. In less than 30 minutes, with some swift scanning and rapid reading, I usually manage to clear the backlog, confident that I will not miss out on anything interesting. I marvel at my own speed.

When newspapers began to be widely circulated and read, in the 1920s, Arthur Ransome lamented in an essay that there was far too much reading going on and at a galloping speed.

For a great many people, reading has passed from being a conscious into being an instinctive activity.

We are reading machines all wound up and going
And master whatever is not worth the knowing.

There was a time when a newspaper was a handwritten letter of gossip which, when came from town, would suffice a countryside for a fortnight.Then it became a printed folio sheet.Today, spread out, it becomes as big as a blanket, and we get new one wice a day.It is only when newspaper is a rarity that it becomes read in full….

Normally, in England, people do not read the whole paper. There is too much of it. Instead they have by practice learnt to look through it in such a way that they can be confident that nothing of interest would have missed their attention…

Once upon a time everybody recognised that reading was a form of frozen sound, and reading was then a form of listening. Today, with an over-developed ocular skill, we see a sentence, even a paragraph, at a glance and hear nothing at all.

So, the lesson? When you are reading, listen. If you are a writer, try to slow down your reader and force him/her to hear your voice. Resort to line breaks, pictures, smileys, wrong-spellings, whatever. Are you listening?


shalini said...

Good one. I try my best to make my Class IX listen to their reading. But most often they are so busy talking that they have no time for listening. Like the bloggers.(Like your July 16 cartoon)
No time to read as they are all busy writing.

Raj said...

Shalini, these IX class students can multi-task- talk, listen, read, sms, twittter, dance at the same time

Rachna said...

It is difficult to define what stands out in a crowd. I think something stand out or connects to you. Maybe the subject, the style, the voice, the personality, can't put my finger on it. We were taught a whole lot of "gas" during my MBA classes :)- speak this way or do your presentation this way. I don't remember too much of that now, but I think the sincerity of sharing, listening and communicating helps!

OMG, this sounds like gas too LOL!

Shalini said...

I agree with you on their multitasking bit. But as for as listening goes they choose to remain selectively aurally deficient, specially if the person talking to them is their teacher or parent.:)

Raj said...

Rachna, the problem is that some comprehend better on the aural mode, while some like me prefer the visual mode. A good communicator has to appeal to both.

Shalini, the flip side of multi-tasking, alas, is attention-deficiency disorder (ADD). I can well understand the plight of the IX class teacher who has to manage 40-50 ADD patients!

Shalini said...

Oh ! don't you be distressed. I do not have that many – I just have seven.
And they are not always ADD much to my relief. They are selective in this too, true to their age.:)

Rachna said...

Interesting point, Raj but how do you appeal aurally in a written medium. I can understand putting pictures and making your content visually appealing. Unless one puts videos. For me reading is seeing and imagining, creating my own images not really listening.