Woodrat Podcast 10: John Miedema on Slow Reading

Slow Reading cover
John Miedema talks about his book Slow Reading and the practice and experience of reading in general. Some of the questions he addresses include:

Is the length of a book an indication of profundity?

Are books mind-altering substances?

Which kinds of writing work better in print and which work better on the web?

How do you reconcile technophilia with bibliophilia?

Can slow reading flow from slow writing?

Should we persist in trying to make the web more print-like?

How should we read newspapers and magazines?

Is it possible to read too much?

Do slow readers make better citizens?

Is speed-reading on the web changing the way we think?

Does information overload matter?

How can readers get beyond being passive consumers of information or tourists of the reading experience?

Theme music: “Le grand sequoia, by Innvivo (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike licence)

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14 Comments


  1. I love it when you burst out with your anarchist credo!

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    1. “…Alguna fe adorable que el destino blasfema.” (Vallejo)

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  2. Fascinating interview. The slow reading he discusses is similar to “active reading” as we call it in education circles. It’s the thing I work hardest to get my kids to do. When it works, they interact more with what they’ve read and they seem to enjoy it more too. Of course, this slow active reading is nearly useless when faced with timed college entrance exams.

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    1. That kind of teaching sounds like an exercise in frustration to me, but more power to you for taking it on. I hope at least a few of your kids will remember those active reading techniques in later life.

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  3. Dave, thanks for inviting me, and for editing my ramblings into a coherent dialogue. Sounds great!

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    1. I’m glad you were pleased with it. It was fun. Thanks for coming on.

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  4. I enjoyed this very much, since I’ve just read the book. I’m an avid reader who finds it hard to read slowly, but would very much like to. So I’ll be giving a lot of attention to this area. I also liked a lot and very much identified with what John has to say about ‘information overload’.

    Dave, on my home computer the podcasts continue to cut off somewhere between 24 and 26 minutes. I have somewhat ropy broadband, but I can’t think that that is the reason because it’s not just a matter of the connection cutting off; I cannot get it to resume and play beyond that point whatever I do, it just acts like that is the end. All is fine on my much more powerful system at work, so I have now been able to listen to the political stuff too :-)

    I wonder if anyone else has had this problem?

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    1. If it acts like that’s the end, I suspect it’s because that’s all you’ve downloaded. Have you tried using a different browser? What browser are you using now?

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  5. Explorer on both computers (the one that cuts off and the one that doesn’t)

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    1. Well, could you try another browser and see if it makes a difference? It’s my understanding that sometimes IE can get fouled up and needs to be uninstalled and reinstalled, but it’s probably easier just to install the latest version of Firefox and try that, first.

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  6. I was struck by how much a recorded conversation can get at the heart of someone’s enterprise. Not that John isn’t clear about it on his blog; his writing is as concise as he says here that he tries to make it, and it’s always enjoyable. (Fun to hear you guys refer to me!)

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    1. Glad you liked the podcast, Peter. I hope you’ll come on the show, sometime, too. I’m sure we’d have a lot to talk about — probably way too much, in fact.

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