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“Loving to read as a strategist”. Episode 7. Reading trends of today.

Have a beautiful first week of October. Thank you for allowing me to come back today and finalize the episode about the vogue of reading in our current times.

Bendita tu luz. An exercise watercolor 7 x 5 inches.
Paper Sennelier 300GSM, Painted with Holbein and Old Holland pigments. Photo source: Freepik

Please see the following set of slides. I have promised to offer Bonus material about the following subjects, and today we have included the Renaissance brief about the context of reading and writing between the XIII to XVII centuries.

Bonus 1: Reading/printing during times of the Protestant Reformation. OK√
Bonus 2: Reading during the Renaissance. Today.
Bonus 3: Reading during the Enlightenment. 7-OCT-2022
Bonus 4: Newspapers commencement. 11-OCT-2022
Bonus 5: What happened during the first industrial revolution? 14-OCT-2022

We have included the Bonus material and its respective strategic reflections in the slides, in the second section of the document.  So let´s begin.

What is to read in the context of this decade. In the current times, reading is happening but not as a source of pleasurable leisure. Reading is becoming a very difficult task. But with or without our awareness, it is not our fault either. We have switched our purpose of reading. In consequence, reading as it was procured during the whole historic process of our human evolution, has been smashed for the first time in history. Reading is today something trivial instead of profound.  We live in a world where almost everyone on earth can read and write, but almost everyone is not literate, as we have defined it at the beginning of our saga.

Literacy in the context of Eleonora Escalante Strategy has a different connotation. For us, as strategists, to be literate means to be knowledgeable or educated in multiple contexts beyond each person’s work, profession, or specialization.  To be literate means for this century and so on to be cultivated and whole as a well-educated person, as a lifetime reader. To be strategically literate means to be an outstanding reader. To be able to produce inferences, innovate reflections, further analysis, and ask us more questions, by searching for new meanings with the objective of connecting the dots of multiple alternatives or options, to find answers not even apparent. To be literate in the context of this decade means to be an active and curious reader beyond critical thinking, but also to be able to have an opinion and exercise the power of gaining erudition.

There is something so beautiful when reading from pages from paper. Nothing compares to that.

Too much noise when reading in the context of this decade. From our Eleonora Escalante Strategy observations, the current situation of reading in the new generations (those who are digital natives) is not just dangerous, but precarious, and it will cause us to return to the times before the Renaissance period. This is the first time in our whole history, in which the new disruptive technologies (grouped in NAIQIs acronym) are hitting the intellectuals at the core. Reading/writing has been the elevation from the absurdness and the ignorance.

Whenever you find an excellent reader that has chosen to search for erudition, and educate himself or herself for a lifetime, you are in front of someone that will never return to the most primitive wants and needs of the illiterate. Whenever you are in front of an excellent reader, you encounter peace over violence. But nowadays, the cycle of the communication process is affecting everyone, including those top readers or intellectuals that weren´t seduced by the noise or the interferences in their search for erudition.  The noise that has come through the digital screens is so overwhelming, that the commotion has touched the intellectuals, and that is risky. For the first time in 6,000 years, the NAIQIs blast is affecting us, and that includes the professors and the consulting sector representatives, which are the problem solvers of our businesses and industries.

The reading trends of today. In the context of the NAIQIs disruptions and noise injection/expansion to our communication processes, the tendency is to go lower, instead of higher. These noises or disturbances (slide number 11) that come organically attached inside the Smartphone or Tablets are shifting intellectuals and avid readers to genuflect their mindsets to lose erudition. Those who are unable to read at least 1 book of 250 pages per month have begun to obey ignorance. Those who aren´t able to practice strategic reflections in everything they do, read, or act; have begun to incline in favor of being informed, sacrificing the quest for knowledge and wisdom. Those who comply with the standards of the digital mediatic FOMOs (Fear of Missing Out) are starting to become illiterate. Those who believe that they can read from tablets or Kindles, sacrificing books, are miserably pursuing more ignorance than ever, and for the first time in our history, the irony of being literate without literacy is damaging the most privileged citizenship, one of the intellectuals.

The noise or interference in the communication process is expanding not just in the message, but in the sender, the receiver, altering human senses in the function to read.

Short Texts vs Long Texts. A short text is the one that youngers love the most in our current times. The trend is to opt for short texts instead of long reads. A short text is the one that allows Twitter for example, with a limited number of characters (usually between 140 to 200 characters). We have shifted to limit the number of words to a minimum number of several characters, in our quest to make communication efficient and directly to the point. When people are forced to live in a world of social media, what they write is what they get used to communicating. And what they write is what they are able to read. Even a page of 600 words is difficult to understand for many new readers now.  What for my generation X was a short text (a page of 600 words), is a long text for generation Z.  A book of 600 pages (which for us was a long textbook), is not even an option for many deficient readers who can´t keep the concentration in just one single page of information. It is obvious why our strategic reflections are considered by many of them as “rubbish”, or as a subject of foolishness.

In the context of reading texts, why is it so hard to read nowadays? People started to desist to read long texts little by little around the Y2K, and particularly since the advent of the Smartphone (2008), because of the following reasons (see support slides number 10 to 13):

  1. The substitutes of reading are flooding constantly on a colossal basis, under a flashy format, at our convenience addictive time and with high demands of a timetable consumption:  On average, in El Salvador, the usage of the Smartphone has substituted the time of formal reading, and the time for exercising outdoors.  This has happened in different segments of the population (kids, teens, university students, young adults, mid-age adults, and elders). In consequence, the bombardment of information in the format of short texts, videos, and visual images that come out of the Smartphone is a monster of gigantic proportions. An example is that whenever I go out of my place, I always watch at least between 3 to 5 traffic accidents, and the reason is that one of the drivers that caused the accident was watching his/her smartphone. On average people spend between 5 to 6 hours out of work or school inspecting social media, scrolling products and services, reading the headlines of news (without reading the news text), texting instant messaging, or watching videos. In this milieu, it is obvious why the Smartphone is the perfect tool for technological addiction, and all our leisure time is wasted there. The timetable of every day is packed with digital information activities, but we are not assimilating knowledge.  
  2. Our brains can’t take so much overwhelming flow of information that is inside our mobiles and in parallel keep on reading long texts. In the setting of our daily lives packed with information and noises coming from Smartphones and Tablets, it is understandable why no one wants to read. In my experience, to read well means to be prepared with a setup that allows me to be concentrated to read fluently and take notes. Academic papers require from me much more attention and engagement. If you compare the experience of reading seriously in comparison to what comes out of your Smartphone, it is palpable why people don´t want to read from books or long-text reading.
  3. Our brains have been hurt and are damaged by the existing massive amount of information coming from digital gadgets.  According to recent research (1) by some authors affiliated with UCLA, there is “emerging scientific evidence that indicates that frequent digital technology use has a significant impact—both negative and positive—on brain function and behavior. Potential harmful effects of extensive screen time and technology use include heightened attention-deficit symptoms, impaired emotional and social intelligence, technology addiction, social isolation, impaired brain development, and disrupted sleep. However, various apps, video games, and other online tools may benefit brain health”. Even though the authors appear to document that “functional imaging scans show that internet-naive older adults who learn to search online show significant increases in brain neural activity during simulated internet searches. Certain computer programs and video games may improve memory, multitasking skills, fluid intelligence, and other cognitive abilities. Some apps and digital tools offer mental health interventions providing self-management, monitoring, skills training, and other interventions that may improve mood and behavior”; we certainly believe the latter benefits of the digital might be true but only for certain specific groups of humans.   It is our aim to express, as corporate strategists, that we are convinced that if you put a balance between the negative and the positive impacts of digital screens and apps, the negative influences of a digital economy and digital communications over a longer-term span are greater than the positive.

Reading is frustrating for those who can´t get meaning from written texts. If our civilization doesn´t wake up to the notion that we are preparing the road to go back to the dark ages before the Renaissance with the NAIQIs (Nanotechnologies, Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Supremacy, and the Internet), it doesn´t matter if you were taught to read and write in primary school. You still are illiterate if you aren´t an excellent reader. Our civilization has lost the capacity to concoct outstanding long-text readers, and that is why we have biased and mediocre innovators of the current products and services that we see emerging in every single economic sector of society. In the Renaissance, the first innovators of the Leonardo Davinci scale came to life around 300 years after the first universities were installed in Europe. Davinci was a self-taught exceptional reader who learned by trying to pursue erudition (see slide 21). How many of us are pursuing erudition at school, at the university, or as long-term life learners, if we don´t read?

Learning to read is to learn to writeIllustrative and non-commercial image.

Announcement: Next publication we will continue with the subject “Contexts of reading”. And the bonus material will be “Reading during the enlightenment”.

Strategic Music Section.

Music Chill-out for today.

Today´s tip is focused on understanding the role of the reading instructor. How do we know whether we are good or poor readers? Good readers have exceptional reading comprehension skills. Reading implies that our brains have reached a plateau in which we can actively interact with the author meanwhile we read (without communicating with him but finding answers in the text). We interact to achieve an understanding of the texts. It is an active process of “constructive meaning”, “creative thinking”, “dignified curiosity”, “investigation mindset”, “monitoring by test & error”, “explorative joy” and “critical reasoning”. Today we will discuss the “constructive meaning” aspect. Some reading education researchers have defined this process of constructive meaning with 4 factors:  It is interactive, it is contextual, it is strategic, and it is adaptable.

Excellent reading takes time and practice. It also requires specific comprehension instruction from professors who must learn to apply the “constructive meaning” factors when reading too. It is impossible to teach how to become an excellent reader if professors aren´t good readers either. So, if we want to help students (at any age) to read well, our instructors must be educated first to read well. The importance of the reading instructors is beyond the literature or language professors. Each and all the teachers from all disciplines (including the numerical and math subjects) are obliged to become good readers. If you are an instructor, do you consider yourself a reader who constructs meaning as you read? How can we help our teachers to be excellent readers again?

Today´s music is played by Alexis Ffrench.

The album is called Truth, which has been recently released.

Enjoy the music that will help you to create constructive meaning when you read.

See you next Friday 7th of October, with the eighth episode of the saga “Loving to read as a strategist: Contexts of reading”. Thank you for reading to me.

“Loving to Read as a Strategist”. Illustrative and non-commercial image. Giphy source from Nazaret Escobedo

Sources of reference are utilized today.
All the references used to write today are included in each of the slides, nevertheless, these are cited in the article

  1.  Small, G.; Lee, J.; Kaufman, A.; Jalil, J.; Siddarth, P; Gaddipati, H.; Moody, T; and Bookhelmer, S. “Brain Health consequences of digital technology use”. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. Volume 11 no. 2. 2020. pp 179

Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY. Nevertheless, most of the pictures, images, or videos shown on this blog are not mine. I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.

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