Tuesday, 23 November 2010

1. Post Internet Reading Habits

Recently, at Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight wrote a post called "Your Reading Habits Post Internet."  He asked a series of important questions related to this topic.  I have been thinking about this topic, and jotting down some notes.  Here are my thoughts.
What has happened to your reading habits ever since the rise of the internet, blogs, Facebook and Twitter?
The internet itself did  not initially make a lot of difference to my reading habits.  In the beginning (1996 for me), I mostly did not use the internet for anything more than research - which I then backed up from traditional sources.  Occasionally I "surfed" the net out of curiosity. 

I also joined a few of the early social networks (pre-Facebook).  I did make a great deal of use of email, having formally been a enthusiastic letter writer.  Even today, the majority of my emails are still long and detailed; I have never mastered the short email form, and actually I am grateful for that.  I also joined a number of e-groups early-on, particularly ones related to home schooling.  I learned a great deal from home schoolers all over the world, while at the same time I also continued to read home school books and magazines and connect with the few local home school folks.  The big difference was that the e-groups were a large community, and with our far-ranging and detailed on-line conversations, I made close friends from around the world, some of whom I have since had the opportunity to meet face to face.

In the mid to late '90s I learned html and started my own website.  It took quite a bit of effort at first, but once I got it set up, I just added and made changes and updates from time to time.  It was basically a place to post writing efforts, and family photos etc.

It wasn't until I was on Facebook that I really got into social nets.  In the beginning I only checked from time to time but as I built up my list of friends, I started checking more often.  Now I'm in the mid-500s, 99% of them people I actually know, and if I wanted to read everyone's statuses regularly, I could be taking hours a day, which started to happen.  So mostly I just skim, and some days don't look more than once or at all.  But it's a big temptation to spend a lot of time there.  I also was playing a couple of games, but realized how addictive they were, so I quit games except the very occasional game of Scrabble.

Learning to skim is a skill I'm developing more and more.  Especially since I decided to try to really grow my blogs.  I wanted to see what other bloggers in my interest areas were talking about, and learn more about blogging.  So I started using Google Reader.  That got really crazy because I read everything carefully, and I did a lot of commenting, hoping people would link to my blog, which they did.  But now I skim a lot more, and am more particular about what I comment on, so I'm spending less time, but learning more in particular areas in which I'm especially interested.

I did sign up for a Twitter account, but have never really gotten going on it much at all.  I did try out Posterous and some other social networking sites, but again haven't used them all that much.  I suspect that if I had a cell phone with internet, I would probably be tempted to do a lot more tweeting.  So I'm holding off on that for now, as I just don't have the time.

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