February 07, 2008

Dawn of the digital natives

'I challenge the NEA to track the economic status of obsessive novel readers and obsessive computer programmers over the next 10 years. Which group will have more professional success in this climate? Which group is more likely to found the next Google or Facebook? Which group is more likely to go from college into a job paying $80,000 (£40,600)?...'

Steven Johnson on the silly National Endowment for the Arts report on the decline of (paper/book) reading in youngsters, as they 'forget' to consider the amount of online reading today's youth undertake.


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Hi Ewan,
I can't read the original piece (site's not responding at the mo) but
I'd more worry about the kids who are neither, they may spend a lot of time online but very little of that time is reading or thinking. From talking to children I don't hear of many of them reading online, a lot of time clicking randomly until the game starts seems to preferable to reading the instructions. Perhaps we need to really start thinking about teaching browser reading.
Aside, I've been an obsessive reader, failed to become a programmer am now a fairly obsessive blogger and still don't get £40,000!

Hi Ewan
I wonder who would be the more rounded citizens though, novel readers I suspect. I worry about the lack of desire to read in general because along with John, my experience is that many kids don't read what is front of them on the web, let alone a book.
I would also think that an obsessive novel reader would have a greater cultural awareness.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that reading novels is bad. That would be crazy, especially from someone like myself who reads paper for at least an hour a day for pleasure.

But I do think that life becomes richer when you read both online and off. It's just that we tend to offer some kind of pseudo intellectual respect to offline reading which is not granted to online reading, so online reading doesn't get taught very well - or at all - in schools. That's a huge mistake on our part.

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

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School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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