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Technology enhances reading and writing

Last month I highlighted texting as a way of staying connected. This month I would like to explore briefly how communication technology improves our lives.
I can remember when computers were first being used for composing. I had the privilege of opening the first dedicated computer writing lab in Maryland at Randallstown High School in the early 1980s. My staff and I taught courses in remedial writing, technology writing and creative writing to students who used the technology to improve their writing. Students in my remedial writing class became enamored of the technology and of writing on the computer, and improved significantly in their writing.
I, too, find it easier to compose at the computer than with pen and paper because I can type faster than I write and easily can correct, add to, delete and rearrange material. Today, with even more programs available on the computer to check not only spelling but grammar, word choice and sentence structure, writing on the computer is greatly enhanced. But, of course, nothing takes the place of being an avid reader of good writing to help one become a good writer.
Today, tablets and e-readers are all the rage, with tablet ownership up from 8 percent to 15 percent among Americans ages 50 to 64, according to Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. Pew also indicates that between December 2011 and January 2012, e-reader ownership increased from 11 percent to 19 percent in the same age group. We can be sure those numbers are up even more in 2013. I might add that people over 64 are also latching on to these devices. A man at our retirement community even brings his iPad to the gym and reads while on the treadmill. Talk about an excellent use of time.
Just being able to read books on a Kindle or iPad for a very nominal cost is important for someone who cannot get to the library or out to buy books. And the print size can be adjusted to help aging eyes. We can get a Kindle e-reader for little money, but the Paperwhite at a bit more than $100 is probably recommended because of the lighting. We can even move up to the Kindle Fire of larger dimensions and high definition. But of course, even though some of us will still delight in holding a book in our hands, we cannot decry the use of the technology because, by whatever means, people are reading - good writing, we hope. Whether you are reading this article in newsprint or on the Internet, I for one am glad you are reading it.
We must remember that technology is for our use to make us better at who we are and what we do - the operative word, of course, "better." Noted author and professor Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) once said, "The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom." We should, therefore, use wisely the technologies of our choice for all their worth.
Hermine Saunders writes from Westminster.

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