Ludic New Media

How do we read and consume media online? This Slate article makes a strong point regarding our fickleness as an audience. Our attentions are minute, skimming text for links and names rather than thoroughly understanding the information. We are looking for snacks, nuggets, bits. We jump from paragraph to video to conversation. Trap us!

This is also true for other types of content. People routinely only watch the first 60 seconds of web video, and episodes/virals get shorter and shorter. Unless we are primed to consume something like a full episode or movie, we simply nibble along.

Slate brings up an interesting aside: a 1988 study about Lucid Reading, or reading for pleasure. To quote the paper’s conclusion:

The processes of reading gratification begin with the subjectively effortless extraction of meaning from the printed page (Study I), the rewards of which appear to be augmented by flexible control of reading pace (Study 2). The harsh judgments elite criticism has made of pleasure reading interact with text difficulty and reader preferences to determine the reader’s selection of a ludic vehicle (Study 3). Fluctuating physiological arousal (Study 4) and cognitive consciousness-change mechanisms (Study 5) combine to confer on the skilled reader the sovereignty of the reading experience through which, with striking economy of means and
precision of outcome, readers transform fear to power, gloom to delight, and agitation to tranquillity.

A deliberate slowing-down of the process and a focused reading approach lead to a meditative result. A ludic consumption need not be limited to reading however. This was the driving idea behind Sokolin’s 2004 project Pause. If we sit down and resign ourselves to taking enjoying something, to really knowing it, there is a tangible benefit to slowing down.

This idea is eloquently explored by Carl Honore in his book “In Praise of Slowness”, and this video for the TED Conference.

However, the verdict is that we see the web and technology as junkfood. Change must come within, which is unlikely. The alternative is to encounter (or to create) some new media experience, artpiece, or text, that is so compelling it stops in our tracks.

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