“How we read” according to N. Katherine Hayles – a look at online literature

In her essay “How we read: Close, Hyper, Machine” N. Katherine Hayles makes some interesting and thought-provoking points.

How we read?

She talks about the differences that we have seen in how we read. From the printing press, to newspapers, to novels and now to e-books, there have been huge technological advancements in this and every other, part of our lives.

In the introduction she tells us that there has been less literary reading, and suffering reading skills. This has been blamed on video games, social media, television etc. Why read the book when we can watch the film? Instead of reading a book, many students now turn to sits like Sparknotes or Wikipedia for a shortcut. Hayles reveals that when literary studies expanded into looking at other types of texts, literature itself took more of a backseat role. There was less focus placed upon it and so it lost popularity.

In today’s society, we are used to having everything at our fingertips. We are used to having everything easily accessible, whether it is food, information, people, or entertainment. People are now busier than ever and always like to save time where they can. Students today are heading in a new direction – “the digital direction.”


I believe that technology such as the Kindle and other e-readers have made it easier for people to read. They do not have to leave their homes every time they would like a new book, and they now have access to a much broader range of literature. There is more research done into helping this technology not strain our eyes or give us headaches, and they are easier than books to hold, especially for longer periods of time. This said, there will always be those who prefer to sit down with a book, rather than yet another device, another screen to look at.

Technology is adapting to how we find it easiest to read, and we are adapting to the ever-increasing use of online reading. When studies showed that people look to the top and left of a webpage, many websites adapted to this.

Without this adaption, we are only limiting ourselves. The internet is a priceless tool for finding information. It would be stupid not to use it, again we must be aware or what we are reading, its sources and how much it really benefits or harms us.



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