Otherwise I spend my time reading more. I find I go through cycles where I'm afflicted with something probably vaguely comparable to attention deficit disorder. I don't know what to read, what I want to read, so I tend to read shorter things--articles, reviews--and I skim longer works ("a little Benjamin, then the critical introduction to this Balzac novel...") Then this passes and I can knock out several books in quick succession, on top of the other articles and essays and skimming.
One of the solo joys of life is finishing a book in a day or two, something I can't always do even when I'm blessed with a windfall of free time. My most fortuitous convergence of necessary free time and a willingness to read, with focus, came on a flight from Italy back to New York. I knocked out Death in Venice (including a few critical appendices in the Norton) and The Baron in the Trees.
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I mention all this because I'm curious about people's reading habits, how they feel they've changed with the advent of websurfing. As much as I love my computer and all the Internets it's really reconfigured my time management when it comes to devoting time to reading print. It's not that I read much less print, it's that I read it in smaller chunks of time.
Which, of course, is not always the best way to read!
I know there's got to be a mountain of journalistic and scholarly literature devoted to this question. And maybe I'll get to some of it (five minutes at a time). But in light of Matt's announcement that he has to write shorter pieces because long paragraphs are problematic for surfers, I do have to say that some of the most important and formative things I came across on the Internet were long and sometimes difficult-to-follow pieces which I had to work at, chip away at on that computer monitor, mouse click by mouse click, revisitations and all. Some examples that taught me about radical politics, for good or for ill--words on life from a political prisoner, or some sites from an online Leninist activist; or we cannot forget the Movie Mutations letters, which I first stumbled across online, connected to UC-Berkeley I think, where I read and re-read these long and personal reflections on love and theory and friendship (themselves texts too, on "discovery"), understanding a little more each time I visited the letters anew. At the age of 16 or 17 or so, sitting at the computer in my room before I went to bed on school nights, this was an intellectual education I simply wasn't getting in school. And the very long, graphics-lite essays were as integral a part of my "online learning" (and my learning to be online) as were the more hyped choppiness of digital interactions on message-boards, through email and IM, and so on. What the Internet did for me was not decrease my willingness to engage with long and complex texts: what it did was condition me (or allow myself to be conditioned) to approach almost anything as a text which I could split into discrete units and read utterly at my leisure. That had never occured to me before; one read for a certain amount of time: until the chapter was over, until there was something else that needed immediate attention, or until the time to read was up. But to read something for not even 5-10 minutes, or to reading part of something very long for only 15-20 minutes ... and then just stop and move onto something else altogether? I can't remember thinking that way until the Internet came around.
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Lately I've been turning the computer off at home more often, which has boded well for time management. I fear that the ability to Google almost any new topic that interests me could become a huge crutch if it hasn't already.
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Of course, I'm also in the middle of cat-sitting for several weeks, and this cat we have as a houseguest has taken a big liking to me. And when she's not sleeping, she's very jealous of time I spend paying attention to anything but her ... that includes the computer.