Document Type

Book Chapter


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Publication Details

How to cite this chapter: Fitzpatrick, N. (2013). Digital Reading: A Question of Prelectio?. In C. Fowley, C. English, & S. Thouësny (Eds.), Internet Research, Theory, and Practice: Perspectives from Ireland (pp. 1-16). Dublin: ©


Digital reading as superficial reading is examined by demonstrating that technologies act as placeholders for different types of memory, artificial memory and true memory. This chapter argues that the affordances of digital technologies enable certain types of reading activity, digital reading, but hinders others, such as deep reading. In particular, there is a tenuous relationship between digital reading and scanning for information in the printed text, a form of reading traditionally known as prelectio. This latter is a pre-reading of the text for salient information, not for deep understanding: it is, rather, a scanning or skimming of the text. Since the development of digital reading, there has been a debate about the role taken by digital technologies in the acquisition of reading as an activity. This chapter will, through the analysis of the recent works of Stiegler (2010) and the research group Ars Industrialis, challenge the outright rejection of the digital technologies of reading. Instead, by revisiting the technology of writing as a cure and a poison, as a pharmakon, a positive pharmacology will be proposed. By re-examining the philosophical problematic of reading and writing, the first step of this positive pharmacology will be to identify the necessary curative aspects of the technology.