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Surprising Science

Is Reading Too Easy?

“My problem is that consumer technology moves in a single direction: It’s constantly making it easier for us to perceive the content.” Jonah Lehrer laments the rise of e-books.

“Here’s my wish for e-readers. I’d love them to include a feature that allows us to undo their ease, to make the act of reading just a little bit more difficult. Perhaps we need to alter the fonts, or reduce the contrast, or invert the monochrome color scheme. Our eyes will need to struggle, and we’ll certainly read slower, but that’s the point: Only then will we process the text a little less unconsciously, with less reliance on the dorsal pathway. We won’t just scan the words—we will contemplate their meaning. My larger anxiety has to do with the sprawling influence of technology.”


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