Reading in a World Dominated by Technology – Close and Hyper

Over the past few decades, the way  we read as humans has changed exorbitantly. In a time where people have all the information in the world in the palm of their hands it’s not surprising that the way we read has altered somewhat. With such a large volume of information to take in it cannot be surprising that people often resort to skimming pieces of material to get the general idea of the content instead of solely focusing all their energy on it. Recently, reading has been broken down into different categories within the world of Digital Humanities which are Close and Hyper Reading.

Close reading has been described as “a word-by-word examination of a text’s linguistic techniques” (Hayles, 2010). This is the idea that one sits down and focuses solely on the text at hand, following each line word for word. This is rare nowadays with so many sources to read such as online articles and magazines and it would seem that reading such as this is often left only to academic work in which a focus such as this is necessary so that one can take in all the information on offer and not just the important points.


Unlike Close Reading, Hyper Reading is the act of skimming a text to isolate the most important parts and gain an overall understanding of the text instead of examining it word for word. N. Katherine Hayles referred to Hyper Reading as “sporadic sampling” of a text, picking out certain parts and bringing these all together to find a general meaning behind the text in front of a person (Hayles, 2010). However, this act of sampling a text is limited just to academic texts but also to everyday browsing. This type of reading has only increased since the introduction of smartphones and online media outlets producing stories that are often referred to as “clickbait”. Clickbait is the act of releasing a headline on social media that is somewhat misleading causing people to click on the link to your site creating ad revenue and increase site views (Escher and Ha, 2016). This has caused people to skim online news posts and articles online almost out of habit to see if this content is of any interest to them and therefore, created a rise in Hyper Reading.

It would seem that through the rise of Hyper Reading in comparison to Close Reading that a certain discipline and skill is being lost upon younger people. Less people will focus on a book nowadays but instead will travel to social media to read a poorly written article and at that not even read it, just glance through. This could possibly have detrimental effects on future scholars as their ability to concentrate solely on a particular topic may be lost as they were not taught these skills from a young age.




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