From the article:
I doubt that many of the Blog People are in the habit of sustained reading of complex texts. It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs. In that case, their rejection of my view is quite understandable.
While I don't share Michael Gorman's dismissal of Blog People's abilities (his "intellectual needs" comment is galling), I do think he's rubbed his fingers over a kernel of truth. The fact is, that blogging and online reading (ie, surfing the web) have largely edged out something else in my life: reading books. Not that I've given up the practice, but that I'm less inclined to do it than I used to be, and more inclined to lose large periods of time in front of the computer screen. (I do not say the medium is to blame; I want to avoid digital vs. paper catfights.) I suspect my behavior is related to a feedback loop of work/reward. Posting online requires relatively little work and yields relatively immediate reward. Reading online, similarly, is quick & easy compared to novels. I flatter myself that I monitor the cutting edge of news via the web--and I believe it is possible to do so, and Slashdot may even be an aid towards doing so--but in fact, I derive as much satisfaction out of a rousing debate on inane trivia (provided I win, or score points or prestige) as I do out of debating issues of real significance. The gratification of the moment doesn't care what the subject is, only that I'm reading/writing/evaluating...and getting attention.
Yes, you've struck a nerve, O Anonymous Coward.
There's a larger point too, having to do with attention span, that is implicitly raised in M. Gorman's comment. It may be that as I feed myself with digital snacks I to some degree lose interest in meatier works. It's easy to show off a little knowledge of calculus, should a discussion head that direction, and easy enough to look up on Google the innards of whatever physics question is the problem of the moment, since those are quick and work-free; it's much harder to sustain a quiet and real course of study on some difficult topic. A steady diet of snacks may gradually wear down my ability to sustain long-term learning and interacting.
I may have to curtail my participation herewith.