Re–blog from NY Times.
Randall Stross finds his idea that people prefer screen–based media over print–based media because it’s passive speculative. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that one, so in my world it’s more kind of the old, classic argument. And frankly I’ve never read one scientific paper that backs it up. So here’s a more speculative hypothesis for you.
People prefer screen–based media over print–based media because it’s more active. But how could that be? One must realize that human beings are embodied. And we have the ability to understand that others feel, think and act and why they do it. This is in large part what defines us. And of course our ability to do this increases with animation.
These are well known facts in the scientific community and it has tons of research to back it up. The Theory of Mind plays a large role in developmental psychology and theories of embodiment has been around since the 1940’s. It’s a shame that authorities like Mr. Stross isn’t aware of this.
It would make me happy and the world a better place if the type of pseudo–scientific fact like reading being more active then watching would stop flourish in the popular media. And hopefully the acknowledgment of Theory of Mind and embodiment can help the print–based media companies to come up with more productive solutions to their problems then the ones now being implemented.
You find more information about the Theory of Mind on Wikipedia and these two videos with well known American philosopher Hubert Dreyfus is a good introduction to embodiment.