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Read like the Digital Generation Back

A study in neurology confirms that the human brain has been designed for visual learning more than any other learning type. It can process a picture 60,000 times faster than a message and can hold up to 72 GB per second of memory. More than 65% of research test subjects were able to remember a picture they once saw for only 10 seconds even a year after. But they could only remember 10% of things they learnt through words and messages.

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The temperature map shows how people today use their eyes to read information on the website. What is read for the longest period of time is shown in red, and shorter time will be orange, yellow and blue respectively.

Children of the new generation work the nervous system and their learning processes and memory systems differently from past generations, while having a different way of reading visually. The former generation has a Z-pattern eye movement, zigzagging from left to right with various frequencies. The new generation, however, has an F-pattern, starting from the top and moving downwards and then reading horizontally. This horizontal eye movement will get shorter and shorter according to the length of the content. Book strategies for the Digital Generation, therefore, should use pictures as part of the story telling and colours to grab attention. Moving images should be used to help bring the reader’s eye to the important content, and there should be an occasional horizontal line to help break the content and rest the eyes.

Communication and learning used to happen mainly through messages and words. Picture communication tended to be for artists, advertisers or film and television works. Future technology, however, is very much supportive of visual literacy. Everyone has the power of visual communication at their fingertips, by taking pictures or videos or drawing something and then sharing it through the Internet or social networks.

YouTube, a website where users can upload and exchange video clips, started in 2005 and has had an exceptional exponential growth since then. In 2014, there was a 329% growth in viewers from the year prior, with over 1 billion users and an average of 4 billion views per day.Instagram, a social network which focuses on picture sharing, started in 2010 and currently has over 1 billion users, with 900% growth in 2013.

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Interactive e-book:Our Choice or Saving the earth from global warming

The definitions and boundaries to reading today, therefore, are undoubtedly changed. Acquiring knowledge no longer comes strictly from reading text but includes landscape, signs, objects and people. This creates a learning process through analysis, interpretation, searching for meanings and then assessing the values based on personal experience and knowledge.

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Multimedia that is part of digital technology has added a multitude of flavours to the reading world, because in some cases, pictures and video clips can do a much better job in communication than text, and helps make content easier to understand. In the year 2011, theInteractive e-bookapplicationOur ChoiceorSaving the earth from global warming created quite a stir in the digital book world whenKimonTsinterisand Mike Matas, former Apple engineers, created thePush Pop Pressinnovation which allows readers to interact with the e-book’s content, pictures, videos, sounds, models, satellite co-ordinate maps, and infographics. This e-book’s content was modified from a normal book and thus supports the multimodal literacy which integrates communication and description using various senses: visual, auditory and sensory.

In Thailand, adjustments have been made so that reading materials are suitable for the new generation’s reading culture. Websites now host more pictures and videos. Additionally, since readers now use mobile reading and communication devices, website developers have to make a website’s details more simplistic. E-magazines can insert advertisement boxes from the magazine’s sponsors or celebrity interview clips into articles.

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Pakorn Santisunthornkul, the founder ofDek-D.com,analysed that “technology changes the people’s behaviour”; even Facebook is now designed to focus more on pictures because it is easier to browse when a picture is big and the text is on the side. People then put pictures into the text and focuses only on the important parts, creating infographics.”

In the future, not only will visual culture slowly take the place of reading culture, futurists predict that technology will keep advancing until computers have similar reading skills to those of humans, or VIVO (Voice-In-Voice-Out). It can be expected that in2050human’s ability to read and write will regress until it is completely gone and the world will develop forward to a talking society. We will listen and talk to our computers instead of reading books.

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