Take heart, readers. A Pew Internet & American Life Project report released this month found that just “[e]ight percent of the American adults who use the Internet are Twitter users.” I can’t be the only one to find this heartening in a culture awash in instant information, in the slings and arrows of the 140- character tweet. For a long time, I’ve regarded Twitter as the ultimate expression of our shared distraction, a virtual game of telephone in which the chatter is by its nature reductive, stripped of complexity, nuance, all those subtle shades of gray. And yet, what may be most interesting about the Pew study is its timing, since this is the year e-readers took off. What does it say about us that, on the one hand, we don’t seem so enthralled by the hit-and-run of Twitter while on the other, we can’t get enough of electronic books? Only this: that technology is not a barrier to depth, to engagement, to the cultural discussion, and that perhaps we want the same thing from our reading as we always have, regardless of the form it takes. E-books, after all, are the story in publishing this year, with more than seven million iPads sold in the eight months since the device went on sale in April, joining millions of Kindles, Sony Readers, Kobos and Nooks. Just a week or so ago, Google launched Google Editions, an e-book retailer designed to compete with the iBook and Kindle stores.
more from David L. Ulin at the LA Times here.