Jeff Jarvis talks about the Gutenberg Parenthesis. Those who bemoan the supposed short attention spans of the networked generation typically measure this by the capacity or willingness to read a book cover-to-cover. This assumes that reading books is normal; but what about the vast span of human history before books? Perhaps we’re seeing a reversion to ways of knowing that were diminished by the printed word… to a more oral culture in which remixing is natural.
This reminds me of the book The Alphabet and the Goddess which also suggests that reading had a powerful and not always positive effect on how we think and behave.