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  #1  
Old 11-07-2010, 01:43 PM
rhubarbarin rhubarbarin is offline
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Why do some older people have such trouble reading text/retaining what they have read on screens?

Any olds on the board who have this problem care to weigh in? Those of you who don't, have you heard of it? Why do you think it's so?

This is something I've been hearing/seeing for almost my entire life - (I'm 25) mostly from people at least a generation older than me. When I was 10 in 1995, that meant as young as early 30s, so I don't think it's just failing eyesight with age*. And none of the 30 and 40-somethings I know these days, most of whom are fairly tech-savvy, say things like:

'I can't read on that screen.' 'I hate reading things on computers.' 'Print that out so I can read it!' 'I can't remember anything I've read on a screen.'

Even my father, who has worked mostly with computers since 1987, has been like this since he was a young man. If he has to read anything of length on the computer, he always and still will print out pages and pages on paper so he can read it that way.

So, what explains this phenomenon? I guess it's mostly just the fact that older people in this country grew up without screens as part of their daily life, and are more comfortable with text on paper.

*And anyway, my own eyes are all fucked up - one has amblyopia and reading, particularly on screens, is somewhat of a physical strain for both eyes as the good eye has to compensate for the wonky one, I often get headaches and eye pain from reading, but I've read entire books on the computer before and I never 'print things out'. I certainly don't feel like I retain text I've read on paper better.
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  #2  
Old 11-07-2010, 02:19 PM
johnpost johnpost is online now
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screens are poor contrast compared to paper. the irritation and strain of screen reading might affect a person's comprehension.
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  #3  
Old 11-07-2010, 02:22 PM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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When I got a new monitor my eyesight suddenly improved. They go so gradually that you don't know how bad they are until you get a new one.
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  #4  
Old 11-07-2010, 02:29 PM
KlondikeGeoff KlondikeGeoff is offline
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That is interesting. I started with computers in 1981 and used them extensively daily since, even after retiring.

I can't answer your question about old people, as I'm only 83 (), but for extensive reading of a document, I'm much rather have hard copy. Not so much a matter of difficulty reading the screen, but more of being more comfortable in a good chair, with a good light, and ability to use a highlighter, pencil for notes and shuffle pages.

And, for extensive reading, a backlighte4d screen is not as good as paper (or an eInk screen such as my Kindle has).

However, you may be right suggesting it is an age-related cultural thing. In one training course I took for volunteer work, the question as asked as to whether I could learn better by hearing a recording, watching a video, or reading. I definitely know I can learn better by reading. I noted that most of my generation picked that, while the younger ones picked listening to a recording.

Disregarding older people who just never learned to use a computer, or don't like one, I don't think your question can be answered. I know a very large number of older people who use computers regularly, but have no idea how many might prefer to read onscreen or on hard copy.

Perhaps some studies have been done on this, so you might Google that, or wait for more replies to your OP.
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  #5  
Old 11-07-2010, 02:37 PM
Wallenstein Wallenstein is offline
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It used to be much worse with CRT monitors.

There's one theory that the screen flicker causes problems when reading lines of text... as you get to the end of a line your eye picks up the flicker of the screen refresh in your peripheral vision.

Because we're hard-wired to react to movement when seen in our peripheral vision it drags the eye back into the centre, meaning we lose our place in the text.

Plus the backlit displays can put strain on the eyes.

Last edited by Wallenstein; 11-07-2010 at 02:39 PM..
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  #6  
Old 11-07-2010, 02:55 PM
lazybratsche lazybratsche is offline
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I'm your age, and I prefer to do large quantities of reading on paper. This is particularly true with scientific articles, where I have to skip around frequently (text on page 6 refers to figure on page 7 and I'm trying to figure out the details of the methods on page 2 and then need to look up the reference on page 13). PDF readers make this clumsy unless you have a gigantic monitor capable of displaying whole pages at a reasonable resolution. I have, however, read whole novels on a computer. Again I prefer not to, but it's less difficult because I can read more linearly and it's not a problem to have less on the screen at once.

Eye strain is another issue. LCDs don't have very high contrast, CRTs flicker. Most monitors are set to be much brighter than is really necessary, adding to the eye strain. Younger eyes are probably better able to tolerate eye strain.

And then there's macular degeneration. Our young eyes can focus better on closer objects, and can change focus rapidly. Older eyes just can't do it, at least not without reading glasses.
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  #7  
Old 11-07-2010, 02:56 PM
Inner Stickler Inner Stickler is offline
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I don't think it's an age thing either. Given the choice between reading something on the computer and reading it printed out, I'll take the printout. And I'm younger than the OP.
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  #8  
Old 11-07-2010, 02:59 PM
Kevbo Kevbo is offline
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I notice this to a degree. I am an electrical engineer, and for the first 20 years I worked, I needed a bookcase full of data books. Around '95 you started getting data books on CD, then around 02/03 pretty much everything I need is on the web.

Most things I am fine with on a screen, but printing out a hard copy of a datasheet works about 100 times better for me. I get very stabby when I can't print a datasheet. Part of it is that I will often need to refer to the information while working within another computer application, so it is a pain to flip between one window and another. It is also handy to be able to bookmark pages, highlite, add my own notes, etc. Also it is a pain to have to scroll down then back up to see what a footnote is about. Also, a lot of the text will refer to a figure on another page, and it is way easier to go back and forth using dead trees. Also, I frequently need the data while troubleshooting and it is either impossible or not handy to have a computer where the circuit is.
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  #9  
Old 11-07-2010, 03:11 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is online now
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Some people are sort of information "hoarders" as well - I have a coworker who has massive life-endangering stacks of papers filling her cubicle, she says because "I can't read on a screen" but really it's more like "I have to keep EVERYTHING". When we throw stuff out (not her stuff, other department stuff!) we have to wait until she's not around and do it in secret. She's not the only one like that I've met - they feel they don't "own" something on a screen.
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  #10  
Old 11-07-2010, 04:27 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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I think they can do it, but like anything you need time to adjust. I recall when my mum got bifocals, she was cussing saying she would never be able to use them. Then a month later all was fine, her eyes adapted.

Older people don't use a screen so much so it hurts their eyes, if they forced the issue there eyes would adjust eventually.

It's like and the darn touch pads on laptops. I HATE THEM. I know if I used them enough I'd eventually adapt, but I have no patience, it's easier to pop in a USB mouse
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  #11  
Old 11-07-2010, 04:44 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallenstein View Post
It used to be much worse with CRT monitors.

There's one theory that the screen flicker causes problems when reading lines of text... as you get to the end of a line your eye picks up the flicker of the screen refresh in your peripheral vision.

Because we're hard-wired to react to movement when seen in our peripheral vision it drags the eye back into the centre, meaning we lose our place in the text.

Plus the backlit displays can put strain on the eyes.
I have read extensively on computers ever since my first time playing with pagestream on an amiga 20+ years ago.

The secret to comfortably reading anything on a screen is multifold.

1 - set the background color to a softer color than bright white, and have a good dark font in a reasonable size. Avoid fancy fonts. Back when I had a crt I had one of the anti glare polarized screen shields.

2 - make the reading area of the screen about 6 inches wide - about that of a hardback book single page. If my eye has to travel the entire 20+ inches of my desktop monitor, it is pure hell, though the 16 inches of my laptop monitor is not bad, I just prefer something the size of a hardback book page. Make the window background outside the reading area dark and neutral.

If you deal with the glare, and pagination, it becomes fairly comfortable to read.
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  #12  
Old 11-07-2010, 04:57 PM
janeslogin janeslogin is online now
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I do all my recreation reading on the screen. I have to take off my glasses and push back away from the screen a bit. I find this easier than the up and down I need to get the screen, or a printed page, in the right place when I wear my trifocals.

I live across the street from a senior center and I know a lot of people who don't like to read the screen. I just assumed it was either eyesight or stubbornness.
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  #13  
Old 11-07-2010, 05:37 PM
salinqmind salinqmind is online now
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I get terrible, terrible eyestrain reading on a monitor. But I put up with it because, hey, what am I going to do? Stop reading stuff on the computer? Enlarging each page helps some. I seldom print anything out, as I have a notepad and pencil to write down such things I need to remember, and the notes are stuffed into my purse to join the thousand other hand-written notes.... If it makes you feel better, my rheumy old failing eyeballs aren't much better at reading actual printed material, I end up taking off my near-worthless glasses and just hold the book or magazine closer to my wrinkly haggard old face.
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  #14  
Old 11-07-2010, 06:21 PM
Zoe Zoe is offline
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I don't print much out, but if I had a long section to read, that is what I would prefer. My reading chair is more comfortable.

I have trouble retaining what I read because I take a lot of medication and because of many electrical shocks to my brain in the early 1960s, but I forget what is in print just as easily.

I have the beginning of cataracts in both eyes and I was born with about 50% of normal vision anyway. Cataracts at later stages can cause the reader to see a halo effect around lights. And I use a larger than normal text size on Kindle.

Now these are just my reasons. Older people are not all alike anymore than younger people. I met one amazing gentleman who is in his eighties who has never needed glasses. I've been wearing them since I was 14 months old.

Aruvqan, thanks for the tips!
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  #15  
Old 11-07-2010, 06:36 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Originally Posted by Zoe View Post

Aruvqan, thanks for the tips!
Welcome =)

I find it a bit baffling when people complain about the ergonomics of something preventing them from accomplishing something, when you can change your ergonomics.

Reading on a computer can be a bonus for failing eyesight ... large monitor and huge font can help. My dad had macular degeneration, and preferred reading off a computer screen because he could blow documents up to huge to make it easier to work with. Brightness can be controlled with screen brightness, changing the background and font colors, and making stuff high or low contrast as your personal vision requires.

I have 2 monitors on my desktop - a 26 inch and a 28 inch, and I will frequently watch something on one monitor and make notes on the other one. My desk is very comfortable because I have it set up to be comfortable with the height of the desk, where i have my keyboard and monitors and I spent several hundred dollars on a very comfortable desk chair. With as much time as I normally spend at my desk [when i am not stuck in bed and using my laptop] it is worth the time effort and money to make it as ergonomically comfortable as possible. I just dont understand when people neglect to tweak their environment whenever possible [to the extend of their resources of course =) ]
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  #16  
Old 11-07-2010, 06:57 PM
Athena Athena is offline
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I'm 40, and I don't have any issue retaining what I've read on the screen. I work with computers, and 95% of what I need to read for work is read on a computer monitor. The remaining 5% comes from technical books.

That said, if I'm reading for fun (novels and such) I prefer books or my Kindle. If I've got to concentrate on small text for a sustained amount of time, the backlight on the computer screen causes eye fatigue, and it's waaaay more comfortable to read while laying on the couch or in an easy chair than it is sitting at the computer. It also has to do with screen-reading versus concentrated-reading - stuff I read on the screen tend to be forum posts, multimedia things, or short pieces. Those work well on the screen. Something that I just read - paragraph after paragraph, for an hour or two - works better on paper/Kindle.

Eye fatigue has been a problem for me since my early 20s, so I don't think it's an age-related thing. I don't recall ever printing something out, though, unless I have another reason for doing it, like I want to read it when there was no computer around, or I want a copy to have on my desk to refer to while I work on the computer. I still do that with screen shots - it's nice to have a paper copy to refer to while I work on duplicating it on the screen.
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  #17  
Old 11-07-2010, 07:05 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is online now
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I started in computers when I was twenty-seven. Even then I preferred printing off any documentation I needed to actually read & study. That hasn't changed 20 odd years later.

Online help is fine for a quick look up. Check syntax etc.

I've never been able to concentrate and study reading stuff on the computer. I agree with other posters that comfort has a lot to do with it. You're sitting with your neck twisted looking at a bright screen. One part of your brain is watching for new emails. You are wondering what people are on the Dope are talking about. etc.... It's so much easier to curl up on the sofa with a book or ring binder to study. That's why I'll never buy a Kindle. I just don't like staring at a bright digital screen.

Last edited by aceplace57; 11-07-2010 at 07:08 PM..
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  #18  
Old 11-07-2010, 07:19 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is online now
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The Kindle isn't a backlit screen - it's like paper. That's why I like it for reading fiction.
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  #19  
Old 11-07-2010, 08:11 PM
Athena Athena is offline
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What Zsofia said - the Kindle isn't backlit. If you want to read it in dim light, you have to turn a lamp on. It's as easy on the eyes as a book.
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Old 11-07-2010, 08:45 PM
Noel Prosequi Noel Prosequi is offline
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I second what someone upthread said about functionality. When I read stuff, I want to highlight passages quickly, make notes in the margin, and stick post-it notes on relevant pages that I can refer to later. I also want to go back and forth between pages quickly. There is no program for electronic documents that does that stuff at all well.

Similarly, my memory for documents allows me to go back and pick up a particular page more easily from a printed version than from an electronic version.

I guess it is all about the fact that printed documents have more of the relatively subtle visual cues that aid quick access than electronic docs. If I want to find a particular page, my memory will tell me "It's in about the first 40 pages", then I can go to pages about there and quickly flick through, picking up further cues from nearby pages, till I get the page I want. I can do this much faster with hard copies than with edocs. Just the way it is.
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  #21  
Old 11-07-2010, 08:47 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Athena View Post
What Zsofia said - the Kindle isn't backlit. If you want to read it in dim light, you have to turn a lamp on. It's as easy on the eyes as a book.
Which is why I don't get why people position the iPad as a Kindle competitor. It isn't the same thing at all; if I wanted to read a book on a computer I'd take my laptop. I read plenty of things on computers, but I prefer a book or my Kindle for fiction.
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  #22  
Old 11-07-2010, 09:25 PM
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What about the psychology?

I have "older" students (some of who are younger than I am) who freeze up when facing a computer screen.

"Ummm, I had a box come up...", I hear across the classroom.
"What does it say?"
"Ummm, I don't know..."
Since I'm helping other students across a large Mac lab, I ask: "Can you read it to me?"
"Ummm, no, I clicked on it and it went away."
"Did you read what it said first?"
"No, it looked like something went wrong, so I clicked it! ... I guess I panicked."

And I swear they're predisposed to forgetting how to repeat the same two simple steps they did TEN minutes before. Because it's a computer.

If it was a mixer or a drill or a recipe or a cryptoquote, they'd be fine. But if it's on a screen, they just know it's too complex for them, and the adrenaline level spikes.

Thank you for this thread! I'm impressed with the "old farts" here that are using Kindles and iPads and reading online, and aren't scared of technology. It gives me hope.
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Old 11-07-2010, 09:42 PM
digs digs is offline
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By the way, it was one of my 20-something students who, when I asked the class how they'd feel about having the textbook on a Kindle, picked up his open book and took a big whiff of "Dead Tree Book Smell". "Naah, rather have a real book."
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  #24  
Old 11-08-2010, 12:08 AM
Parenchyma Parenchyma is offline
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One thing that helps this older person read some websites, especially those cluttered at the edges with all kinds of links and distractions, or those with the white font on black background, is this service called Readability. It used to be enough just to increase the font size with Firefox. Now I often use Readability to just read the main story without the crap.

You just set up your desired page format and get a bookmark link. Then if you're on a page from say, the NYTimes, and click the Readability bookmark, it transforms your page to having just the main text running from side to side. Everything else is disappeared.

It's not useful for message boards but it's great for news articles and fiction.
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  #25  
Old 11-08-2010, 01:51 AM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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I'm 65, and have been working on computers for 40 years. I've never had this problem.
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  #26  
Old 11-08-2010, 06:54 AM
Athena Athena is offline
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Originally Posted by Zsofia View Post
Which is why I don't get why people position the iPad as a Kindle competitor. It isn't the same thing at all; if I wanted to read a book on a computer I'd take my laptop. I read plenty of things on computers, but I prefer a book or my Kindle for fiction.
It's definitely not much of a competitor; I have both and iPad and a Kindle, and I've got the Kindle software installed on the iPad. I've used it to read for maybe 5 minutes, before I said to myself "I love the iPad, but give me my Kindle for hardcore reading."

Not only is the screen too bright, but it's far too heavy. One of the things I love about the Kindle (besides the screen) is that I can hold it in one hand comfortably for hours and hours.
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  #27  
Old 11-08-2010, 07:03 AM
Icarus Icarus is offline
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Memory and retention is a complex dynamic (scent is an amazingly effective memory trigger) - as someone stated upthread, people learn in different ways. I would posit that the preference for reading with paper is similar to the preference for bound books. There is a level of physical interaction that reinforces the learning/retention experience. Many people intuitively know this and express their preference for printed material. The Kindle strikes a balance by replicating the physical size of a book, and having the page turning activity.

For me I know I can read anything I want on a screen, but I still like my newspapers, magazines, and books.
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  #28  
Old 11-08-2010, 07:09 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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I just had an insight on a certain kind of young people who have trouble reading things on computers: the ones I know are all huge consumers of glow-pens, whereas the people of varying ages I know who treat those pens like they're made from the Devil's own pee are much more amenable to reading on a screen. This second group is also heavily allergic to lending books to members of the first group.
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Old 11-08-2010, 08:05 AM
Zsofia Zsofia is online now
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Oh, highlighters? Is that what they call them elsewhere?
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Old 11-08-2010, 08:11 AM
Athena Athena is offline
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I hate hate hate highlights all over a page. Mr. Athena does that, and as far as I'm concerned, the book is destroyed. I can't read the damn thing with highlights all over it.

I ran into the "social highlighting" feature of the Kindle the other day and was horrified. Luckily it's easily turned off.
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  #31  
Old 11-08-2010, 08:28 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Sorry, that was a Nava-ism. There's highlights and there's highlights... I can withstand the orange ones, and the pink ones, and even the green ones, but the yellow ones are good for my BP (it's usually low, they raise it); they're like having a bright light shined into my eyes, hence "glow-pens". For me it's the visual version of nails on a chalkboard. I do print stuff out if I'm going to be using it a lot and may need to access it with the computer off, but otherwise I'm fine with reading on screen; the only one of my relatives to which the previous line does not apply (my aunt M, in her 60s) uses highlighters. A friend (39) who's like Paul Bunyan in short and cute, by the time she was done studying for an exam her classnotes would look like a rainbow had barfed all over them.

Last edited by Nava; 11-08-2010 at 08:32 AM..
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  #32  
Old 11-08-2010, 10:05 AM
robby robby is offline
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I'm your age, and I prefer to do large quantities of reading on paper. This is particularly true with scientific articles, where I have to skip around frequently (text on page 6 refers to figure on page 7 and I'm trying to figure out the details of the methods on page 2 and then need to look up the reference on page 13).
Same with me. I'm in my early 40's, and when I prepared my master's thesis 10 years ago, I also prepared to have all of my cited articles printed out in hard copy. For me, this was the only way I could organize all of my references. If I found a relevant article, I'd print it out, highlight the relevant material, and put a post-it tab on the page. I ended up with over a hundred articles that I referenced in my thesis. When I wrote it, I had them organized into piles on my desk, on the floor, etc. It would have been hopelessly confusing for me to deal with them all electronically.

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...A friend (39) who's like Paul Bunyan in short and cute, by the time she was done studying for an exam her classnotes would look like a rainbow had barfed all over them.
When I studied for an exam, I always highlighted my notes in various colors. I'd use a different color for each topic. For some reason, the different colors helped me with retention.
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  #33  
Old 11-08-2010, 10:25 AM
Zsofia Zsofia is online now
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God, highlighter people forced me to buy a ton of college textbooks new rather than used - half the time all the used ones on the shelf were all highlighted and scribbled. I can't read that stuff.
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  #34  
Old 11-08-2010, 11:04 AM
Athena Athena is offline
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God, highlighter people forced me to buy a ton of college textbooks new rather than used - half the time all the used ones on the shelf were all highlighted and scribbled. I can't read that stuff.
I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks that way. My husband looked at me like I had three heads when I told him that if he used the highlighter on a shared book, I might as well just go buy another copy because it was useless to me.
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  #35  
Old 11-08-2010, 11:06 AM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
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Originally Posted by Zsofia View Post
Some people are sort of information "hoarders" as well - I have a coworker who has massive life-endangering stacks of papers filling her cubicle, she says because "I can't read on a screen" but really it's more like "I have to keep EVERYTHING". When we throw stuff out (not her stuff, other department stuff!) we have to wait until she's not around and do it in secret. She's not the only one like that I've met - they feel they don't "own" something on a screen.
It seems that there may be a number of people who print out everything for some reason. I remember working for one company and there was someone in HR whose emails included "Think green, not every email needs to be printed." in them, seemingly implying that there may be some people who DO think every email needs to be printed.
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  #36  
Old 11-08-2010, 04:30 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is online now
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If you think about it, the traditional portrait format of printing documents out on paper was most likely the result of a long process of evolution and elimination by default. Most books are printed this way, too; they're taller than they are wide and the typical exceptions are large format volumes that are designed more to be "looked at" than read, like coffee-table books. I don't know why this is so, but I suspect it's because a page in typical portrait format has proved to provide the optimum balance between not having too much text on one page, but having enough that one part of a page can refer to another part, still in the same page. You wouldn't want a book to be printed so there was only one paragraph the length of this post on each page; neither would you want a book that had a whole chapter on each page.

Computer screens are usually landscape. This initially wouldn't appear to make a difference, since the amount of "real estate" is theoretically the same. But fewer and longer lines are simply harder to read IMO. If there are line skips to improve readability, the cost of each skip in terms of printed characters is greater, which further reduces the useful content of the screenful.

Last edited by Spectre of Pithecanthropus; 11-08-2010 at 04:31 PM..
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  #37  
Old 11-08-2010, 04:39 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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I've been reading on screens since I was in junior high in the early 1980s and I have always preferred to read long documents, fiction, and important things on paper. It's not an "oldie" thing.

I absolutely refuse to read fanfic, but if I did, I'd print it out first.

Last edited by Acsenray; 11-08-2010 at 04:39 PM..
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  #38  
Old 11-08-2010, 04:49 PM
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I don't think I have reached the critical age yet, but many of my clients and neighbors certainly have. I have to be prepared to adjust what I say to them. "Do you see that icon on the screen? Click on it" isn't going to produce the reaction I expect, because they won't see it, and if they do, they won't know what "click on it" means.

I have many friends who can't tell the difference between a colon (:) and and semicolon (;), or a period and a comma. What bothers me is a friend, an educated man, loquacious in person, but for the last 10 years, his emails consist of disconnected, brief sentence fragments separated by ",,,,". I finally figured out that his eyesight was so poor that periods and commas look the same to him, and the brevity was caused by his inability to read more on the screen than short phrases and inability to touch-type. Yet he is a successful medical professional, a good photographer, and a decent driver, all of which require a minimum of eyesight acuity.

I don't think these people recognize their failings and they don't know that some others can detect them. It's partly an ego problem. It's hard to admit that your faculties are failing when most of your brain is still working fine.
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  #39  
Old 11-08-2010, 05:00 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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My dad has poor eyesight and cannot touch type.

He compensates in part BY TYPING IN GIANT, COLORED TYPEFACES.
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  #40  
Old 11-08-2010, 05:07 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is online now
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Oh, my dad does ALL CAPS in Excel. I mean, he writes letters in it. I have no idea why.
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  #41  
Old 11-08-2010, 05:11 PM
Freudian Slit Freudian Slit is online now
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I'm not sure it's an older person thing. I don't really feel like I've "gotten" what I read unless I actually read it in print. Older people might be the most resistant, but I've come across some studies (doing research for a paper) that show that people in general retain 75% less of what they read when it's online and that they're more likely to feel like they have to go a lot faster than when they read in print. Maybe it's just older people who are vocalizing it?
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  #42  
Old 11-08-2010, 09:01 PM
Napier Napier is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Athena View Post
I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks that way. My husband looked at me like I had three heads when I told him that if he used the highlighter on a shared book, I might as well just go buy another copy because it was useless to me.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Now there are three of us that aren't completely insane. It was so lonely all these years....
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  #43  
Old 11-08-2010, 11:13 PM
Mister Rik Mister Rik is online now
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Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus View Post
If you think about it, the traditional portrait format of printing documents out on paper was most likely the result of a long process of evolution and elimination by default. Most books are printed this way, too; they're taller than they are wide and the typical exceptions are large format volumes that are designed more to be "looked at" than read, like coffee-table books. I don't know why this is so, but I suspect it's because a page in typical portrait format has proved to provide the optimum balance between not having too much text on one page, but having enough that one part of a page can refer to another part, still in the same page. You wouldn't want a book to be printed so there was only one paragraph the length of this post on each page; neither would you want a book that had a whole chapter on each page.
I'm going to go out on a limb and speculate that balance/gravity had something to do with it as well. A book is usually held with one hand under the spine, leaving the other hand free to turn the pages. A book that is too wide is going to be difficult to hold and read that way, because the outer sides are going to want to keep dropping. That would force the reader to constantly tilt the book one way or the other to keep the page he's reading facing him, hold the book with two hands, or do all his reading with the book resting on a desk or other surface.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
I don't think I have reached the critical age yet, but many of my clients and neighbors certainly have. I have to be prepared to adjust what I say to them. "Do you see that icon on the screen? Click on it" isn't going to produce the reaction I expect, because they won't see it, and if they do, they won't know what "click on it" means.
I spent a little bit of time in the past trying to teach basic computer use to computer-illiterate people, and I encountered more than one person who simply couldn't grasp "point and click". They'd understand the "point" part, but when it came time to click, they'd click the mouse button while simultaneously "jabbing" with the entire mouse, so that every attempt to simply click to select an icon turned into a "click & drag". It reminded me of those people who play a video game on a console and wave the controller around despite the fact that doing so had no effect whatsoever (I'm speaking of pre-Wii days, obviously). A simple example of this is somebody playing, say, Super Mario Bros. on a Super Nintendo system, and waving the controller upwards every time they made Mario jump, or trying to get more distance out of a horizontal leap by waving the controller to the right.
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  #44  
Old 11-09-2010, 01:52 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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When I studied for an exam, I always highlighted my notes in various colors. I'd use a different color for each topic. For some reason, the different colors helped me with retention.
In this case, what would happen was that she would take a first read, underlining in blue ink. Then a second read, highlighting in yellow; the parts being highlighted would be pretty much the same ones she'd underlined. Third read, add more highlights, in green. Fourth would be pink, and by that time, pretty much everything would be colored, but a fifth reading would see the leftovers highlighted in blue; if she got around to a sixth reading, she drew frames in pencil. I think it wasn't so much a matter of putting markers over important points as of using the act of going over the text with a pen as a learning mechanism in itself.

My college Students' Union sells self-published books; one of the sources for these is students' class notes. They've used two of mine as "the Cliff Notes' versions" of those courses (I think they're both still in use, I graduated some 15 years ago): those items which the professor repeated would get marked with a five-point star for every repeat. Eventually, my classmates' notes for one of those courses had the "Steel Diagram" six times, while mine had it once, with a row of five stars (and yep, it did crop up in every exam). My notes for those courses were the briefest but they also were completely done in blue ink, making them easy to photocopy. Paulette Bunyan's notes would have been impossible to photocopy by the time she was done.

Last edited by Nava; 11-09-2010 at 01:56 AM..
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  #45  
Old 11-09-2010, 08:36 AM
Zsofia Zsofia is online now
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Originally Posted by Mister Rik View Post

I spent a little bit of time in the past trying to teach basic computer use to computer-illiterate people, and I encountered more than one person who simply couldn't grasp "point and click". They'd understand the "point" part, but when it came time to click, they'd click the mouse button while simultaneously "jabbing" with the entire mouse, so that every attempt to simply click to select an icon turned into a "click & drag".
Oh, christ, welcome to my life. Let's try again to explain the dreaded double click! No, faster! Like this! (raps on table twice) No, that's not quite it...
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  #46  
Old 11-09-2010, 01:08 PM
Mister Rik Mister Rik is online now
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Oh, christ, welcome to my life. Let's try again to explain the dreaded double click! No, faster! Like this! (raps on table twice) No, that's not quite it...
Yeah, I gave up trying to teach this stuff. I'm sure there are teaching methods that would have done the trick, but I didn't know them. I'll admit it's something of a mental block on my part: how do I explain concepts that I, myself, grasped intuitively? My first experience with GUI and mouse came in 1990, on a Macintosh SE. I had to learn to use these Macs for my English Comp class at the local community college. Prior to that, my only computer experience had been with the Apple IIe computers in the school library during my senior year of high school ('83-'84), and PCs running MS-DOS. But I got sat down in front of these Macs, having never seen a GUI or a mouse before, and grasped the concept instantly. And I don't think it's so much an age issue; my mom had never even touched a computer until she was 50, when she married my stepdad, who loves computers. She learned how to use her new Mac very quickly. Now, in her mid-60s, she's slinging a smart phone and an iPad with no trouble. Before she married my stepdad, she'd been a career housewife and mother, with no college education or outside-the-home work experience.
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Old 11-09-2010, 01:19 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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I have a theory that training on use of a mouse for someone who is not comfortable with computers should begin with the computer switched off. Practice clicks and double clicks without the distraction of things on the screen.
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  #48  
Old 11-09-2010, 01:22 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is online now
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Originally Posted by Mister Rik View Post
Yeah, I gave up trying to teach this stuff. I'm sure there are teaching methods that would have done the trick, but I didn't know them. I'll admit it's something of a mental block on my part: how do I explain concepts that I, myself, grasped intuitively? My first experience with GUI and mouse came in 1990, on a Macintosh SE. I had to learn to use these Macs for my English Comp class at the local community college. Prior to that, my only computer experience had been with the Apple IIe computers in the school library during my senior year of high school ('83-'84), and PCs running MS-DOS. But I got sat down in front of these Macs, having never seen a GUI or a mouse before, and grasped the concept instantly. And I don't think it's so much an age issue; my mom had never even touched a computer until she was 50, when she married my stepdad, who loves computers. She learned how to use her new Mac very quickly. Now, in her mid-60s, she's slinging a smart phone and an iPad with no trouble. Before she married my stepdad, she'd been a career housewife and mother, with no college education or outside-the-home work experience.
Unfortunately, it's my job. I try to get out of the beginning computer classes because I just Do. Not. Have. The. Patience, but I got roped into, get this, Intro to Computers I this spring. There are two parts. God help me.
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