15 Aug '11, 7pm
Are Computers Rewiring Our Brain, Making Books Obsolete?
A defining characteristic of digital culture is that it divides the attention. That has become a fact about the texture of our lives. We experience anxiety, fragmentation, semiotic overload. It seems logical to conclude, in that case, that books - particularly fiction - will not just be read in such an environment; they will also seek to reflect it. Already, there's evidence of this. If it really were the case that our attention spans are shortening, you might expect to see a wholesale revival of interest in short stories, or even lyric poems, and a tendency for full-length books to shrink. But we're not seeing that. Instead we're seeing Wolf Hall, Fingersmith, The Crimson Petal and the White, The Corrections, Underworld, Infinite Jest, Tree of Smoke, and fat Stephen King after fat Stephen King.