From Marc Andreesen's blog, quoting the New Yorker, July 14, 1951:

The most encouraging word we have so far had about television came from a grade-school principal we encountered the other afternoon.

"They say it's going to bring back vaudeville," he said, "but I think it's going to bring back the book."

Before television, he told us, his pupils never read; that is, they knew how to read and could do it in school, but their reading ended there. Their entertainment was predominantly pictorial and auditory — movies, comic books, radio.

Now, the principal said, news summaries are typed out and displayed on the television screen to the accompaniment of soothing music, the opening pages of dramatized novels are shown, words are written on blackboards in quiz and panel programs, commercials are spelled out in letters made up of dancing cigarettes, and even the packages of cleansers and breakfast foods and the announcers exhibit for identification bear printed messages.

It's only a question of time, our principal felt, before the new literacy of the television audience reaches the point where whole books can be held up to the screen and all their pages slowly turned.

Okay, leave aside the point that watching books on TV would be only a little more boring than golf. But anyone who watches an hour of cable news is probably exposed to more words and numbers– in the form of headlines, crawls, stock tickers, etc.– than their grandparents saw in a day; likewise when browsing the Web. Of course, that's a total guess. But as I mentioned a little while ago, my son is keen to start reading more on his own so he can play more advanced video games. The bottom line is, the relationship between new media and old skills is always more complicated than we think.

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