My son sent me this link a few days ago and I have been struggling to find the place of calm within myself where I could fully absorb what the author, Sven Birkerts, is saying. Part of the problem is that it is online and so I struggle with length online. I have now printed it out.
I love his statement that: "Cyberspace is centrifugal; reading is centripetal. Cyberspace is intransitive; reading is, transitive."
He goes on to clarify that he is talking about reading "as a particular form of communion. When means I am talking about reading as an act of imagination, not as a path to information. Literary reading, I guess."
One thing I noticed at the conference is that I was working on my computer and then I would run into the computer room at the college to print it out. I had one glance with no time for revision and then off it went to be copied, but I could feel how my brain works differently when I read something on a piece of paper than when I read it on the screen. I don't know why that is, other than, for me, there seems to be something about the physicality of holding the paper and seeing how it looks there that affects how I process and take in.
One conversation at the conference was how submissions now are usually done on-line. Can a poem be as well appreciated or absorbed on the screen as on a piece of paper? I would say not, at least for me. I write on the computer, and then, when I print it out, usually see the changes needed, and maybe part of that is just seeing it in a different form. Often when I "preview" on livejournal, I see mistakes I didn't catch before I flipped to the different format.
This is a fascinating article and well worth your time.