Boys might claim it’s a simple matter of preferring to read magazines or the latest musings of their friends on social media rather than the classics. But two of the largest studies ever conducted into the reading habits of children in the UK have put those excuses to bed.
Boys, of every age, no matter the nature of the literature before them, typically read less thoroughly than girls.
They take less time to process the words, lazily skipping parts with abandon. And they choose books that are too easy for them, meaning they fail to move on to tougher material, it is claimed.
Keith Topping, professor of educational and social research at the University of Dundee, is behind two academic research papers: one using data from 852,295 students in 3,243 schools (a tenth of the 8.4 million children in the UK), andanother examining the quiz answers relating to the comprehension of books read by 150,220 children in 967 schools. Between them, they reach a damning conclusion on boys between five and 18 years old: “What they are doing is not particularly good – and they are lagging behind.”
. . . .
“But we looked at fiction and nonfiction reading and we found that, although it was true that boys tended to choose nonfiction more than girls, particularly at secondary level, they still didn’t read it better than girls. They were choosing nonfiction but they were not reading it as thoroughly and correctly as girls reading nonfiction.”
Topping admitted: “It’s a bit of a mystery. Interestingly, socioeconomic status was not related. This is somewhat different to a number of previous studies on reading where they tend to find that socioeconomic status is quite a big influence. Here it is not a big influence – not an influence in any shape or form.
“There is a need to feed back to boys what is going on here. Boys may be assuming, ‘Oh, I like to read nonfiction. Oh, I like to read magazines. Oh, I like websites or the instructions to video games’. But this study shows that they aren’t any better at that than they are at reading fiction.”
Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Barb for the tip.
PG wonders why so many British boys hate school, tests, assigned books, etc., these days
Like PG, would like to see the study replicated outside of the UK. That said, I think it also depends on the "social clique" of the kids. At least from my experience, the gamer/geek kids generally read it all, knowing that someday and obscure part of any text can be used to rule lawyer an argument with someone who didn't carefully read it. :)
The 2000 merger with AOL made Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes nauseous, so what’s different now?
In the end, I guess you could finally say Steve Case was right.
Case led AOL to great power in the 1990s, and he then presided over what has become known as the one of the worst mergers of all time, when he combined his high-flying internet giant with Time Warner, back at the turn of the century.
It was a truly epic move, all predicated on the very big idea that distribution and content had to marry in the digital age and that whoever did that successfully would rule the next era of media and more.
It was also an epic failure, brought down by a toxic combination of timing and execution.
Which is to say that the body of Time Warner — made up of the mandarins of media whose power was waning, although they did not know it at the time — rejected the deal almost immediately and made sure it would never succeed. Even as the fast-and-loose slicksters of AOL did everything possible to seem as lightweight as they still were at the time.
You could write books on what went wrong — and I did — which begs the question of what Time Warner now thinks will go right in the deal it just struck with telecom giant AT&T to be taken out for $85 billion.
As expected, the media has gone wild, dragged along breathlessly as they are for any holy-god deal, nearly forgetting that some of its current principals were the very same people that had been the biggest critics of the match-up of Time Warner and AOL.
On Monday, those very same execs will be the ones telling the world that this time it’s different, that this time is the right time, that this time the union of a phone company and the maker of “Game of Thrones” is just what this era of convergence requires.
Convergence — yes, that word. It was in the very first line of the deal press release, describing a “new company with complementary strengths to lead the next wave of innovation in converging media and communications industry.”
But I will never never forget the mock retching sounds that both Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes and HBO head Richard Plepler made when I uttered it in an interview with them, way back when AOL was being foisted on them with the very same written-by-a-banker premise.
At the time, the pair were lesser beings at Time Warner — Bewkes ran HBO and Plepler ran PR for HBO. Unlike most other Time Warner execs who said nothing publicly about the merger with AOL, both Bewkes and Plepler were adamantly and vocally opposed to it.
In interview after interview I did with them — especially as the combination started turning south, which it did pretty quickly — the pair could not be any more in lock-step about how the digital distribution skills of AOL would do nothing for Time Warner.
It’s not that the two did not understand what was coming — they could see the internet marching into the heart of their business, and decimating everything in its path. But they were adamant that the creation of great content would always prevail, that it was still king and that the questionable stock valuation of AOL was a fake that had allowed it to sully the pristine beauty of Time Warner.
This week, I dug up many old quotes from Bewkes I had gotten at the time in which he talked about all this and more — most of Plepler’s thoughts on the AOL invaders were too expletive-laden to use then and now — and one really struck a chord of the time.
“The question is, are people really going to watch what we make on a computer screen or not,” said Bewkes. “I think an awful lot rides on whether that happens or not.”
Well, it happened and more, although I don't fault Bewkes at all for not seeing any of it. Back in 2000, Google was not much of search company, Amazon pretty much only sold books, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was in high school and the Apple iPod was not coming out for a year.
And the most critical event, the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, which kicked off the mobile future that ultimately gets us to AT&T + Time Warner, was not even a thought in the head of Steve Jobs.
Yes, mobile, mobile, mobile, which is why you got this quote out of Bewkes today:
“Combining with AT&T dramatically accelerates our ability to deliver our great brands and premium content to consumers on a multiplatform basis and to capitalize on the tremendous opportunities created by the growing demand for video content.”
It’s one of those digital bromides that would have made Bewkes of yore vomit, of course. Which is why back then, he and others rejected a number of ideas that perhaps would have made things different had they been pushed through at the time.
Among them: Not integrating AOL’s access business with its cable access efforts called RoadRunner; not pushing the boundaries of digital advertising, such as putting movie ads from Warner Bros. films on AOL and other digital properties; not experimenting aggressively in streaming online, both in video and music, due to vexing copyright issues.
And, crucially, indulging in the urge to discount everything the AOLers pushed.
To my mind, that attitude is really what scotched that AOL-Time Warner deal: The wholesale scoffing at these questionable messengers — to be clear, some of them were pretty questionable — without listening to message itself. Which was that change was coming, so you better get busy moving fast and breaking things.
I am guessing this kind of doubt will seep again this merger, as the penny drops with the media types at Time Warner that they are now working for a phone company.
As everyone sorts out whether AT&T can really help Time Warner move into the already-here digital future and truly add to its offerings, one of the biggest dangers of a deal such as this is that those at Time Warner see it as a final defeat of a war that began a long time ago.
But resistance to digital was futile back then as it is now. Which is why I pinged Steve Case for his thoughts on this deal this weekend, which might be the ultimate irony for the longtime entrepreneur.
And here’s what he wrote in its entirety:
“While back in 2000, some didn’t believe in the internet and/or didn’t believe in convergence, of course those concepts now seem obvious. So it’s not surprising to me that we are again seeing attempts to marry communications and content. I just hope the merged company will have the kind of culture that will enable it to drive synergies and create value.”
“As I explained in ‘The Third Wave’, and as we discussed on your podcast, the idea of the AOL/Time Warner merger made sense, both strategically and, at least for AOL, financially. What was flawed was the execution. But, as Thomas Edison said more than a century ago, vision without execution is hallucination. And execution is all about the right people focused on the right priorities, working together in the right way.”
“Maybe I should send a copy of my book to the boards and senior teams at both companies?”
Maybe, Steve. Maybe. That is, if anyone reads books these day — but that’s another story.
Steve Case: "But, as Thomas Edison said more than a century ago, vision without execution is hallucination. And execution is all about the right people focused on the right priorities, working together in the right way.”"
The 2013 Snowden documents revealed UK intelligence agency GCHQ to be tapping into the undersea cables that carry Internet traffic, covertly gathering vast amounts of digital comms data under a surveillance program code-named Tempora — apparently with the help of commercial partners. Read More
By the 2020 election driverless cars will have become ubiquitous, according to Rahul Sonnad, a co-founder of the zero-emission ride-sharing startup Tesloop. The impact, he predicts, will be “completely transformative.” Read More
Can someone explain to me why a website would publish AMP versions of their articles? They do load fast, which is a terrific user experience, but as far as I can see, sites that publish AMP pages are effecting ceding control over their content to Google.
Here’s an example I ran into today. I wanted to read Ron Amadeo’s review of the Google Pixel at Ars Technica. From my (new) Google Pixel, I searched for “ars pixel preview”. The first search result was the AMP version of his review. Same thing on my iPhone.
If I tap the result, I get the AMP version of the Ars article, served from Google’s domain. So far, I get it. But the kicker is that I don’t see any way to get from the AMP page Google is serving to the canonical version of the article on Ars’s website. Even if I share the article, what gets shared is the google.com URL (https://www.google.com/amp/arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/10/google-pixel-review-bland-pricey-but-still-best-android-phone/). On desktop browsers, these URLs do get redirected to Ars’s website. But on mobile they don’t. Share from one mobile device to another and nobody ever leaves google.com. Why would any website turn their entire mobile audience — a majority share of their total audience, for many sites today — over to Google?
Every time I get stuck on an AMP page it irritates me. This seems like a terrible idea for content publishers in the long run. Do we really want all content to be fenced through google or facebook? The correct answer is no.
When Google bought the advertising network DoubleClick in 2007,
Google founder Sergey Brin said that privacy would be the
company’s “number one priority when we contemplate new kinds of
And, for nearly a decade, Google did in fact keep DoubleClick’s
massive database of web-browsing records separate by default from
the names and other personally identifiable information Google has
collected from Gmail and its other login accounts.
But this summer, Google quietly erased that last privacy line in
that promised to keep the two pots of data separate by default. In
its place, Google substituted new language that says browsing
habits “may be” combined with what the company learns from the use
Gmail and other tools. […]
The practical result of the change is that the DoubleClick ads
that follow people around on the web may now be customized to them
based on the keywords they used in their Gmail. It also means that
Google could now, if it wished to, build a complete portrait of a
user by name, based on everything they write in email, every
website they visit and the searches they conduct.
My question is simple. Why is Google doing this? To make even more money? Or because they need to do this to keep making the same amount of money? Either way it’s gross.