Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Death of Reading, Deferred

After emailing the writer of the piece I blogged below, I received this email today, and I feel a bit better, though I think that, if it was truly intended to be a satire it could have been done more effectively. But at least I'm one of the people who got "extra points" for asking him whether it was something along the lines of "A Modest Proposal"!

Dear Practical Futurist reader,

I prefer to correspond with my readers more personally, but I received so much email on the “Worth of Reading” column that I must resort to a group mailing.

As a writer, I deeply appreciate how many of you came to the defense of reading—even if it involved some fairly harsh words aimed at me. But I need to point out that the dateline on the article was December 25, 2025.

In other words, the entire piece was written as a commentary from the future, so the story is fictional, depicting an outcome and attitude that as a writer I dearly hope doesn't transpire (but sometimes fear we may be heading toward).

I've received more than 500 emails on this column, about 80% horrified by "my" attitude. The other 20% of the readers recognized that the piece was hypothetical and satirical, set in 2025 (and they got extra points if they mentioned a conceptual similarity to Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.”) Distressingly, those were also the readers who agreed that if American literacy, especially among the young, continues on its current course, the dreadful outcome I imagined might not be far from the truth.

Let’s hope not! Here’s to many more decades of happy and fluent readers yet to come—

Michael R.

Michael Rogers
on MSNBC.com

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