Textbooks and Concentration

Originally posted,

It did not occur to me until recently that textbook reading is really a skill that has to be trained to be useable. Its been a couple of years now since I’ve read anything longer or bigger academically than a journal or transaction paper, and now I’m sitting down to read a couple books on Voronoi Diagrams and Computational Geometry and its hurting the old brain - well at least the eye muscles. Its amazing how fast we get used to increasing short focal periods. I have spent the last few years working on multiple computers with multiple screens. I program while having a movie playing on an opposing screen. We laud our ability to multi-task and fail to realize that what we’re really saying is that we are decreasing our ability to focus on one particular task for long periods of time. I used to sit down with a text book and read it all day, stopping only for lunch. A couple months ago I found myself having to concentrate to remain focused on the material and the book after an hour. I am back to reading form now - but it made me wonder how much the skills we think are positive indicators of ability in computer programming are in reality a decrease in real functionality. Bleah!