Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Facebook Banter More Memorable Than Lines From Recent Books

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the it's-complicated dept.

Social Networks 78

sciencehabit writes "Scientists have found that, when it comes to mental recall, people are far more likely to remember the text of idle chitchat on social media platforms like Facebook than the carefully crafted sentences of books. The team gathered 200 Facebook posts from the accounts of undergraduate research assistants, such as 'Bc sometimes it makes me wonder' and 'The library is a place to study, not to talk on your phone.' They also randomly selected 200 sentences from recently published books, gathered from free text on Amazon.com. Sentences included, 'Underneath the mass of facial hair beamed a large smile,' and 'Even honor had its limits.' Facebook posts were one-and-a-half times as memorable as the book sentences (abstract). The researchers speculate that effortless chatter is better than well-crafted sentences at tapping into our minds' basic language capacities — because human brains evolved to prioritize and remember unfiltered information from social interaction."

cancel ×

78 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Better question (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630295)

people are far more likely to remember the text of idle chitchat on social media platforms

Not which is more "likely" but what is the average retention time?

Maybe that 1.5 difference is between retaining it for 2 days and 3 days?

Re:Better question (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#42632351)

The better example anyway would be how long either FB or a real book is remembered compared to movie lines, since most people get their entertainment through movies more than books. Here let me throw out a few and I bet most of you will be able to fill in the blanks..

" I've had it with these motherfucking... "And I shall strike down with great vengeance and furious anger.." "Houston we've got.."But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question:.."

Now I bet a hell of a lot of you, even if you haven't seen the movies those lines are from in several years if at all, could fill in the blank instantly without a bit of trouble. The simple fact is most books? Don't really have great quotable parts that stick in your head and while some tweeting twittering FB shitting crap might last for a little while I bet that's not saying anything about how good or memorable the tweets are but how lame the new writers are in the post twilight era. But if you want quotable, if you want long term retention even years after it was last saw nothing comes close to a well written movie. Hell why do you think links to this site [tvtropes.org] should come with warnings about how its a black hole of time suckage? Because we have all seen so many movies and shows we know all the tropes, just not the names for 'em.The truly memorable just isn't in the written word anymore, its on the screen. Game of riddles anyone?

Re:Better question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42633591)

I've had it with these motherfucking eels on this motherfucking hovercraft.

Did I win?

I've completely lost interest in Literature (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630323)

I used to be a voracious reader, anything really fiction/non-fiction/blahh

But it's like I hit a quota one day and shifted to reading nothing but stuff online, I'm finding my television and film viewing is also shifting away to YouTube or videos on my computer. Why watch the whole "Daily Show" when I can see all the best bits (in gif form?)

Is it the narcissistic joy of interacting with an audience that generates tons of new content EVERY DAY that draws me in or something else?

Or is it just me having a short attention span?

What is it?

Re:I've completely lost interest in Literature (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630365)

PS. To further explain, it's a different between lossy and lossless thinking. Remembering Facebook lines need mostly the subject and can be partially filled by your own thinking/writing while the latter needs exact memorization. I'll tell you what, partially remembering something, at least for me, is a whole lot easier then fully remembering it. You need only to remember enough to reconstruct the sentence.

Same AC as parent of this post.

Re:I've completely lost interest in Literature (3, Interesting)

XiaoMing (1574363) | about 2 years ago | (#42630395)

Same here. In fact, this is what your post looked like to me...

I used to be a voracious reader
I'm also shifting away to YouTube.
I can see all the best bits (in gif form?)
the narcissistic joy draws me in

short attention span? What is it?

Re:I've completely lost interest in Literature (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630435)

i used shifting tube in narcissistic joy? what?

Re:I've completely lost interest in Literature (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630465)

We watch shit to socialize, to connect with humanity, to learn about stuff, gather information. Movies are fake with fake info and fake people, youtube content is generally less fake than movies, hence a strong draw for some to such content. Do you prefer amateur porn or professionally made porn? Amateur, it's more real, more truthful. Yes, very odd that I brought that up, but it's the same mechanic I think.

Re:I've completely lost interest in Literature (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630711)

Yes

Re:I've completely lost interest in Literature (2)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 2 years ago | (#42631527)

"What is it?"

Relevance to your interests. Most information you get from books is not up to date and a lot of it isn't really that interesting, you have to wade through a lot of crap for the 'highlights' the internet tends to focus on and cut to the chase with 'just the good parts'. The reality is, interacting with other human beings in near-real-time is more addictive then a lower level stimulation that requires actual effort and energy to understand.

The internet concentrates the things that give us the biggest addictive hits that are bite sized and easy to digest. Doing any kind of 'heavy reading' causes some level of stress and energy demand biologically in order to grasp what is being said. Most people balk at anything requiring serious effort on their part, even intelligent people.

People generally want other people to think for them and be given bite sized opinions they then can use to repeat over and over to other people to give themselves the illusion that they are thinking.

If you think about your own personal growth, you've probably grown more from discussion online with people at your peer level or above then you will reading most literature. Simply because a lot of literature is not up to date in terms of language, relevance or vernacular so it's more difficult to relate psychologically in a fast and quick manner then the hyper focus online social media sites and discussion forums create.

People can now ask other people with same or similar experiences about things relevant to their own lives very quickly, this was impossible in ages past.

Re:I've completely lost interest in Literature (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 2 years ago | (#42632333)

Who cares? That's just you, a random nobody on the internet (no offense). There is no deep insight to be had from pondering why you like looking at gifs of John Stewart. You like what you like.

Some people like dub step. There is no great understanding of the human condition that we can glean from that, except the very obvious one: "With seven billion people in the world, you can find an audience for just about anything."

As for why your interested changed, I would suggest it's simply because people change. You're not the person you were ten years ago, and the person inhabiting your body in ten years time won't be you.

Re:I've completely lost interest in Literature (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about 2 years ago | (#42635115)

I used to be a voracious reader, anything really fiction/non-fiction/blahh

But it's like I hit a quota one day and shifted to reading nothing but stuff online, I'm finding my television and film viewing is also shifting away to YouTube or videos on my computer. Why watch the whole "Daily Show" when I can see all the best bits (in gif form?)

Is it the narcissistic joy of interacting with an audience that generates tons of new content EVERY DAY that draws me in or something else?

Or is it just me having a short attention span?

What is it?

Bad quota.

News at 11 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630327)

You can remember things written better if it was written in way you write/speak. Try remember old english lines better then modern english lines.

Re:News at 11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630397)

They used recently published books.

Re:News at 11 (1, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#42630517)

They're still books. These sentences are likely to feel obscure when ripped out of context. Casual communication is much choppier, the FB postings probably aren't bleeding on their sides.

Re:News at 11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630799)

You're more likely to recently have said, read, written, or heard the same words that were in the Facebook postings than the sentences from novels.

Re:News at 11 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42632235)

"You're more likely to recently have said, read, written, or heard the same words that were in the Facebook postings than the sentences from novels."

Facebook members tend not to read books, because they belong mostly to the uneducated, unwashed masses on the bottom of society. They're just a bunch of cat-video watchers.
Educated people who are not insecure do want to connect to people they ignored in high-school and other so-called 'long lost friends'. They ignored them for a reason.

Re:News at 11 (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 2 years ago | (#42632427)

Lollercoaster.

Re:News at 11 (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 2 years ago | (#42631295)

They also pointed out that the lines in the book are deliberately constructed for impact. Facebook is full of a bunch of disposable bon mots.

I don't think this is all that interesting of a discovery, one liners are always easy to remember, and frequently become redeployed out of context and occasionally in direct opposition to their intent.

Re:News at 11 (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#42630417)

There's another force working on the opposite direction that favours casual banter written by others: published text is often heavily massaged to use idiomatic language that fits in familiar patterns. The lack of novelty in the writing and the lack of effort required to read it makes it stick out less. As a general rule, you'll remember things better when you spend more effort in understanding them.

Re:News at 11 (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | about 2 years ago | (#42631305)

Which is why Dubya is so very quotable.

Re:News at 11 (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#42631907)

Pretty much. Awkward, unpolished language sticks in your mind. In fact, a lot of memes are that way.

Re:News at 11 (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 2 years ago | (#42633199)

There's another force working on the opposite direction that favours casual banter written by others: published text is often heavily massaged to use idiomatic language that fits in familiar patterns. The lack of novelty in the writing and the lack of effort required to read it makes it stick out less. As a general rule, you'll remember things better when you spend more effort in understanding them.

Those patterns may be common, but they're not necessarily more "familiar" than unaltered casual language, because unaltered language is what we use on a day-to-day basis. In written form we try to avoid constructions like "John-and-Mary's daughter" where the apostrophe-S denotes possession for both John and Mary, but that's how we speak. Also "There's three things I hate" as opposed to "There are three..." etc.

Casual speech is very familiar indeed, much more so than written speech.

Re:News at 11 (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#42637147)

I'm talking about a slightly higher level of conversation structure. The features you're describing are certainly significant in how they affect spoken language (modern French is very drastically different from written French, BTW; it's very weird), but are less likely to predominate in written text like Facebook posts. This is especially the case for other samples studied by the researchers, like comments left on CNN articles. Professionally-written text is just generally well-organized; concepts and events are introduced in an efficient manner, using consistent and correct word choice. Even if the sentence structure is more familiar, when people blunder through recounting an event, we have to do more work to reconstruct what they're saying. Professional writing is composed with the benefit of hindsight and more thoughtful analysis.

...however, the researchers believe that people are just natural gossips. With that in mind, it could easily be about the density of opinions and moods in the text that makes the snippets easier to remember; the emotions of the author provide another anchor to build an associative memory around.

Re:News at 11 (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a year ago | (#42638459)

I'm talking about a slightly higher level of conversation structure. The features you're describing are certainly significant in how they affect spoken language (modern French is very drastically different from written French, BTW; it's very weird), but are less likely to predominate in written text like Facebook posts. This is especially the case for other samples studied by the researchers, like comments left on CNN articles. Professionally-written text is just generally well-organized; concepts and events are introduced in an efficient manner, using consistent and correct word choice. Even if the sentence structure is more familiar, when people blunder through recounting an event, we have to do more work to reconstruct what they're saying. Professional writing is composed with the benefit of hindsight and more thoughtful analysis.

...however, the researchers believe that people are just natural gossips. With that in mind, it could easily be about the density of opinions and moods in the text that makes the snippets easier to remember; the emotions of the author provide another anchor to build an associative memory around.

I think my choice of an extreme example has diverted the conversation. Personally, I feel that spontaneous written text is something of a "happy medium" between school-taught rules and natural patterns -- a blend of the natural (favouring things like "can I" over school-book "may I") with a few of the simple that make written text clearer in the absence of spoken intonation.

So I'm not saying it's 100% spoken English in written form, just that it's more like spoken English.

Re:News at 11 (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 2 years ago | (#42633187)

You can remember things written better if it was written in way you write/speak.

Exactly. Linguists proved this ages ago. It's a shame the guys in this study didn't think to ask someone working in the field -- it would have saved them a lot of time and effort.

More likely to remeber 2 Girls 1 Cup (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630363)

Than latest Oscar winner. Good research. Keep it comin....

Captcha: Unclean

No kidding captcha!

Or... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630367)

Maybe most recently published books are lamer than idle chitchat on Facebook?

How about a similar study using sentences from acknowledged classics? "To be or not to be, that is the Question", I imagine would be quite memorable, although it might be more fair to choose less well known passages.

I guess is easy for me to say, since with the exception of Terry Prachett I really only read old stuff available under public free licenses.

Re:Or... (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about 2 years ago | (#42630619)

To be or not to be, that is the Question

It would be interesting to compare that [google.com] to, say

How is babby formed?

Re:Or... (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 2 years ago | (#42632447)

Maybe most recently published books are lamer than idle chitchat on Facebook?

Yeah. What I have thought sometimes is how anything that is ran through a spell checker and printed nicely between two covers becomes automatically some kind of cherished art. Books are nice, but it's almost automatically thought that reading a book is always a more proper and elegant thing to do than wasting your time reading "crap from the intertubez".

Re:Or... (1)

museumpeace (735109) | about 2 years ago | (#42633415)

uh, what is a "book"?

Context (5, Interesting)

pavon (30274) | about 2 years ago | (#42630369)

More likely, the Facebook posts were written to be standalone sentences, and were thus more comprehensible than a sentence taken out of context from a large book. Human have been shown to be much better at memorizing things which they understand and can make associations with than things they don't understand.

Re:Context (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630811)

I think you may be right..

Personally sometimes when speed reading I notice If what I am immediately reading isn't interesting to me, my eyes skip ahead to find some interesting word (I may bypass a few sentences) and I start reading that sentence.. (yes this forces me to backtrack whole sentences for context sometimes) but it's somewhat involuntary.

Re:Context (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | about 2 years ago | (#42631297)

I do the same thing. Even in the greatest novels, a lot of the words are essentially just filler. It's difficult to make Scarlett taking a few steps towards Rhett carry much import. Dialogue is what is usually most memorable, and significant.

Re:Context (1)

Livius (318358) | about 2 years ago | (#42632013)

I wonder if it's actually another aspect of context - lines from a book might be consistently good and therefore no individual line is remarkable, whereas an interesting or even grammatically correct sentence on Facebook chat will be memorable merely because it contrasts so radically with the other material around it.

Re:Context (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 2 years ago | (#42634153)

I agree. With the possible exception of some facebookers that use their status to send oblique cryptic messages (which might be memorable anyway because the brain tries to resolve the riddle before giving up), there can't be comparison between a post and a book. IgNobel nomination material, IMHO. Should they try comparing to haiku poems instead?

Different subjects (2)

Daetrin (576516) | about 2 years ago | (#42630379)

Some books have very memorable prose. Most books however strive to tell a good story. (Some books manage to do both. Standard plug for Lois McMaster Bujold here.)

For most books when you get involved in the story you're focused on what's happening in the story, not the exact prose that's used to tell that story. On Facebook you're only going to remember a post if something particularly dramatic happen (which for most people happens fairly rarely) or if they make a memorable quip. And most Facebook posts, especially those that get repeated and spread, tend towards the memorable quip end of the spectrum.

If you asked people to give a general outline of what happened in the book they read a week ago compared to what was going on in all their friends' lives as posted on Facebook a week ago the results would probably be much more balanced.

Re:Different subjects (1)

monkeykoder (1820796) | about 2 years ago | (#42631115)

Well I was going to post almost exactly this but I couldn't have worded it as well. I have hundreds of books in my brain but I don't remember a single sentence from most of them but I could usually give you a meaningful summary just from the name of the book (series excluded they tend to blend into a single summary to me).

Re:Different subjects (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 2 years ago | (#42632257)

"Some books have very memorable prose. "

You mean lines like "Call me Ishmael." or "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" would have been better examples than random crap from recently published books like Larry King's or Snookie's book?

Recent books are pretty crap (2)

jd (1658) | about 2 years ago | (#42630411)

Probably more people can remember the really good quotes from Shakespere than lines from modern books, too. Doesn't mean Shakespere wrote his stuff on Facebook.

Second, lines aren't material in works of fiction. All forms of art are about conveying ideas (intellectual, emotional, doesn't matter). Facebook may be great at conveying words, but that doesn't mean it is useful at conveying ideas. The sheer number of flamewars on the Internet would suggest it is an extremely poor medium for transmitting thoughts and feelings. On the other hand, I would be willing to bet that you can remember more of what a book/movie was about, the contexts, the subplots, etc, if you specifically do NOT focus on trying to remember the words.

Re:Recent books are pretty crap (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 2 years ago | (#42631385)

That's also why bad writing hits us so hard. Skilled writers make the spoken and internal dialog of their characters flow naturally, observing and showing the story as it unfolds before them. Unskilled writers stuff words and thoughts into their characters mouths and minds to simply tell the story.

Different kind of language (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630421)

maybe it just the phrases they used. That are odd or not relevant. The examples in this news shows exactly that.

context counts (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 2 years ago | (#42630427)

put a line like "OMG does my boss suck! happy hour LOL!!!" on facebook between two cute cat pictures, and it's going to be remembered longer than "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well." more fun and less likely to be a test afterwards. and most likely, your boss has also been on your case and you have not been fearful of insane kings with big-ass swords.

Re:context counts (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630653)

it's going to be remembered longer than "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well." more fun and less likely to be a test afterwards.

Especially since you'd fail the test anyway. It's "Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio." Though I guess your inability to remember it proves your point. Or you were being ironic *shrug*.

Re:context counts (1)

stoborrobots (577882) | about 2 years ago | (#42632089)

It's one of the standard misquotes... Like all these "quotes" which never happened:

  * Luke, I am your father.
  * Play it again, Sam
  * Elementary, my dear Watson
  * Beam me up, Scotty
  * Are you feeling lucky, punk?
  * I want to suck your blood
  * Me Tarzan, you Jane
  * Here's another fine mess you've gotten us into
  * Greed is good

Re:context counts (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 2 years ago | (#42632159)

It's one of the standard misquotes... Like all these "quotes" which never happened:

* Luke, I am your father.

Vader did say that, however.

Luke: He told me enough. He told me you killed him.

Vader: No, Luke. I am your father.

So, with a little editing and punctuation, you actually have " [No,] Luke; I am your father."

Re:context counts (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 2 years ago | (#42632555)

Except for the scene where he took off his mask, none of what Vader said in episodes 4-6 can be taken as canon anyway.

The original recordings of what Darth said were mysteriously dubbed over with an African American accent.

Re:context counts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42632789)

"No, I am your father" is the line.

Re:context counts (1)

bigdavex (155746) | about 2 years ago | (#42633111)

You're correct. He says that in the ultra-violet ray, gold-plated Star Wars: A New Hope: Tommy Boy edition.

I didn't RTFA, but... (1)

Lab Rat Jason (2495638) | about 2 years ago | (#42630475)

From the synopsis, did the researchers even verify that the study participants had in fact read those recent books. Scientifically speaking, it's probably tough to recall something you've never read. -Just sayin'

You, sir, are a swine. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630489)

And you ain't mah nigga.

Totally defective study. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630503)

This clearly demonstrates the so-called scientists' inability to properly select unbiased parameters for their study. A sentence in a book comes with a lot of necessary and significant context. Whereas the drivel on Facebook and Twitter has virtually no context what-so-ever except for the immediately preceding sentence of drivel. They have performed an expensive study comparing apples and oranges and simply concluded that apples aren't orange in color.

Re:Totally defective study. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42633749)

Whereas the drivel on Facebook and Twitter has virtually no context what-so-ever except for the immediately preceding sentence of drivel.

If all you see is drivel on Facebook, then you need a better quality of friend, or maybe you just need to care about other human beings. Presuming, of course, you actually use Facebook and aren't one of the seemingly large percentage of Slashdotters who've never actually used it and just parrot the l33t d3wd party line.
 
I'm not going to pretend that every word in my friends feed is golden - but I'm also not so stupid as to be blind to the implications and value of studies like this. For the first time in history, enormous numbers of ordinary people are able to stay in essentially hour-to-hour contact with large numbers of people - and studying those contacts, their connections, their content, etc... are going to tell us a lot about society, people, etc... Sociology may not be your thing, and that's fine. But at least be an adult and realize that if it's not your thing (or because you're willingly ignorant and biased) that doesn't mean it's without value.
 
Or, if you absolutely must be an ignorant jackass, go bask to reddit or 4chan or whatever the juvenile flavor-of-the-month is.

Re:Totally defective study. (1)

sco08y (615665) | about 2 years ago | (#42633971)

Whereas the drivel on Facebook and Twitter has virtually no context what-so-ever except for the immediately preceding sentence of drivel.

If all you see is drivel on Facebook, then you need a better quality of friend, or maybe you just need to care about other human beings.

I've got plenty of smart, talented friends on Facebook, and they routinely post drivel. Hell, looking back at my posts, many of them are drivel, and I actually try to edit what I write.

If you think there's great quality stuff on Facebook, you need to be more critical.

Slashdot, the AM/PM of Junk Science. (3, Insightful)

conspirator23 (207097) | about 2 years ago | (#42630519)

So we have list A, made up of the day-to-day commentary of college undergraduates. Then we have list B, made up of random snippets of contemporary popular literature. The context for both lists are stripped away, and then they are fed to college undergraduates to see which set is more resonant?

Why of course, this must have to do with some sort of innate cognitive affinity for poorly constructed sentences! What else could it be?!?!?!?! One thing I know for sure... the results of this research are going to be really hard for me to remember later on.

You call that a "study"?? EPIC FAIL! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630605)

Those book lines have a much higher complexity/density! How did they manage to ignore something so blatantly obvious?!?

Either they let monkeys do studies now, or this was done deliberately by some grumpy old loser who needed it to be a certain result. If you know what I mean.
Sometimes I can't tell the two apart anymore.

Not surprising... (2)

sirwired (27582) | about 2 years ago | (#42630615)

The language in which books are written is generally intended to form an overall narrative. It'd be exhausting and confusing to read an entire book of pithy one-liners. It's hardly a shock that lines chosen at random fail to stick in the mind. That doesn't mean that books cannot have memorable sentences in them, just that sentences chosen utterly at random are unlikely to be on that list.

Re:Not surprising... (1)

monkeykoder (1820796) | about 2 years ago | (#42631149)

Just an addition a book is typically on the order of tens of thousands of sentences why on earth would I remember a single sentence? Hell to remember the specific sentence that they chose to use would be a 1/10000 chance without perfect eidetic memory. So many things wrong with even thinking of this study it makes my brain want to explode.

Context (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#42630659)

The Facebook posts were written either to be a standalone sentence, or part of a small paragraph, while the sentences from the books were extracted from a much larger overall work. Of course "Omg, hang up your cell phone and put on your shirt!" is going to be more memorable than "She walked in the door."

The chit chat is actually more important (1)

erice (13380) | about 2 years ago | (#42630735)

I would say that this shows that people's priority filters work pretty well.

As popular as it is to put down chit-chat, the truth is that words spoken by real people that you actually interact with about things that actually happen are astoundingly more important for one to remember than well crafted prose from characters who never existed.

This goes to the core of why learning structured information is often so difficult. The brain's filters have not been trained to treat the information as important so it gets discarded along with all the other rubbish.

It's got Electrolytes! (3, Insightful)

stewbacca (1033764) | about 2 years ago | (#42630767)

This post brought to you by Brawndo. It's got electrolytes! Don't miss tonight's episode of "Ow, My Balls!".

Sentences with missing information. (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 2 years ago | (#42630883)

Complete information:
'The library is a place to study, not to talk on your phone.'
Incomplete information:
'Underneath the mass of facial hair beamed a large smile,' and 'Even honor had its limits.' What face? Who was it? Santa? What limits are there to honor? What task did honor just require of someone? Who was it?
When sentences start inviting questions like these, no wonder no one remembers them word for word.

Re:Sentences with missing information. (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 2 years ago | (#42633207)

Exactly. I see that some cognitive scientist says it's "good research", while the entire linguistics community will be calling it trivial hogwash. It is well known that language is easier to process when it's closest to familiar vernacular speech. This study claims to prove that. This study fails to prove it (as you say, the sentences are incomparable in terms of language content). And yet it's still true.

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630971)

People don't read popular literature... I think this has more to do with the fact so many people don't actually read any more than with Facebook being memorable.

Also, because apparently this still needs to be said:

Correlation != Causation

Whatcha talkin bout Willis? (1)

dottrap (1897528) | about 2 years ago | (#42631033)

They picked the wrong type of quotes for comparison.
Yippe-ki-yay Motherf@(#€&!
Meesa called Jar Jar Binks.

carefully crafted =\= well crafted (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#42631111)

So maybe a lot of that care tsken by writers is wasted. If the crap that comes out of peoples' mouths is what our brains want to hea, well...

Beyond Drool Level (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42631287)

It used to be that the average American needed TV shows at the third grade level of education. Now it is a bit lower than that. But books require a greater level of education. I can easily believe that most Americans not only can not recall lines from books but also never understand them to begin with and that is if by dumb luck they actually managed to open a real book. This is the duh generation.

You can't draw conclusions from a difference (2)

hey! (33014) | about 2 years ago | (#42631809)

until you've examined both things being compared and understand why they are what they are.

I've just completed my third novel, my first which I feel is good enough to shop to agents and editors. I've spent considerable time testing my manuscripts and scenes by sharing them with other writers and -- even more importantly -- critiquing their manuscripts. The vast majority of unpublished manuscripts are every bit as tedious you can imagine. Now picture yourself pouring over those in minute detail, thinking about them as hard as you possibly can. You'd begin to see that most faults in writing involve mishandling, misdirecting, or abusing readers' attention.

Suppose you were reading a hundred thousand word novel -- roughly three hundred pages in paperback, and *every single sentence* was written in a way to calculated to grab you by the collar and make you remember. It would be exhausting; I'd be surprised if you made it more than a couple of pages into the story.

The vast majority of sentences in a well-written novel are meant to transfer information into your consciousness without ever being noticed. They're utility sentences -- the semantic delivery vans of literature -- and when they do their work the action of the novel flows efficiently, without hindrance. Some of my fellow authors refer to this quality where reader attention moves unimpeded through a story as "lightness".

Fashions vary with generation, of course. Victorian writers wrote many more ornate, dense, complicated sentences than modern ones do. And for some writers conspicuous prose style is the main pleasure. But even a celebrated purple prose writer like EE Doc Smith wrote mostly utility sentences, reserving the "coruscant displays of pyrotechnic splendor" for high points in the story.

Now there are all kinds of unflattering but true things you can say about most of what gets published, but "hard to read" isn't one of them. It shouldn't be surprising that a random sampling of sentences turns up very few memorable ones, any more than a random sampling of vehicles on the highway turns up more delivery vans and Toyota Corollas than Ferraris.

Re:You can't draw conclusions from a difference (1)

wisty (1335733) | about 2 years ago | (#42633419)

tl;dr: Novels have lots of filler (for arguably good reasons).

Re:You can't draw conclusions from a difference (1)

hey! (33014) | about 2 years ago | (#42633539)

tl;dr: Novels have lots of filler (for arguably good reasons).

Maybe, but it's not filler I'm talking about. It's substance. If I could put an idea or event into a reader's head by telepathy, without need for words at all, I'd do it. The very best writing often feels like that.

Re:You can't draw conclusions from a difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42634829)

Now picture yourself pouring over those in minute detail, thinking about them as hard as you possibly can.

Pouring what? Milk? Maple syrup?

maybe (1)

johnwerneken (74428) | about 2 years ago | (#42632499)

could be situational yes. But I think it's more that (a) the so-called (not by me!) social web at least are avatars of real people, very interesting whether by choice or evolution; (b) those are INTERACTIONS books are not. My self, I think people were built to ACT, and that our prime acts involve either our relations with others or the things we do together if not both. Me, I remember BOOKS. Not the sentences, but the world-situational images they evoke. But surely not the sentences lol. Facts are for sweeping out the door once the pattern is apprehended imho. Often the social web evokes images, at least of feeling/situations being represented to me by others. In other words, stuff whether I actually react (with action) or not, hits the buttons etc.

"Quick" text vs. built up story (1)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | about 2 years ago | (#42632507)

Social media will essentially feed short messages with a punch line. A carefully built up story will expand on themes and provide nuances and background.

What's the bleeding point in comparing the two? It's so friggin obvious that both styles will differ. The effort put into the "research" should have better been put towards creating "world peace". Even "cleaning the appartement" is more sensible than this.

are we becoming machines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42633473)

because human brains evolved to prioritize and remember unfiltered information from social interaction."
So essentially we are evolving to become machines. Organic creatures with synthetic parts, or is it the other way around. I once discussed with someone the possibility of the origins of the universe being of a construct a program, synthetically built. That our creators are perhaps a marriage of synthetic and organic materials and we are just copies of the original beings. Written code that has evolved, because all of nature when broken down to there very essence is very structured the atoms, molecules, and DNA that comprises us all. However, outwardly humans can be compared to a AI program gone out of control at times. At the very least the Titans that we use to calculate different variables through time, space ETC......can essentially calculate all these possibilities, why wouldn't a more advance synthetic race of beings?

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?