S-L-O-W W-O--R---K

A few years ago, I got the bright idea to start a Google Discussion Group entitled Slow Work. Complete with manifesto, which sounds now suspiciously familiar to my last posting about Taylorism:

Festina Lente- Hasten Slowly

The numbing numbers don't add up! The Industrial Revolution was a great way to revolutionize production. It has become a lousy way to live. ...

Fast Work undermines our effectiveness, forcing us into living Fast Lives. ... A firm respect for our most human capabilities can co-opt the folly of Fast Work.

The group slowly turned into a no-op, where a few people ever more slowly replied to some rather long postings.

A recent study might explain why Slow Work slowly dematerialized. in Online Literacy Is a Lesser Kind in the current issue of the online The Chronicle of Higher Education's Chronicle Review, Mark Bauerlein reports on Jakob Neilson's and Donald Norman's latest studies about how online content is read.



Here's the link!

Their conclusion? It mostly isn't read.

... 'people took in hundreds of pages "in a pattern that's very different from what you learned in school." It looks like a capital letter F. At the top, users read all the way across, but as they proceed their descent quickens and horizontal sight contracts, with a slowdown around the middle of the page. Near the bottom, eyes move almost vertically, the lower-right corner of the page largely ignored. It happens quickly, too. "F for fast," Nielsen wrote in a column. "That's how users read your precious content."'

Yes, there's apparently a serious disconnect between the easy distribution of weighty concepts and the assimilation of them. The web, blessed as it is, presents a cognitive hurricane within which we fail to absorb the driest material.

So, we Facebook, which provides a virtual wall to use for posting literary Graffiti. We Twitter. I continue to post rather long blog entries, which, if Nielson and Norman are correct, few of us can actually read.

Of course, there is value (for me, anyway) in creating this stuff. It's how I work out what I think. I don't write to expose what I know, but to stumble upon it. Should I expect my readers to engage in pursuit of insight rather than distilled information, I might be deluding myself. But probably not you, since your reading patterns here might well employ that 'F' and so yield an 'F' in comprehension, appreciation, and retention.

This says nothing about any of us. Sure, my writing is brilliant! And your reading and comprehension even more so. The challenge is that we are coming together in a context that strongly mitigates against achieving what any of us might desire.

I'm finding ever more agency from listening to recorded books while engaging in s-l-o-w w-o-r-k. Scrape that wall, prepping for paint, and I'm in what might be the perfect context to really hear and really learn.

Log into my blog and I'm distracted by the very context within which the content resides.

I've gotta go get busy. Slowly.

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