Reading Layers

Reading Layers

Are you familiar with the concept of pace layers? It's an invention of Stewart Brand, describing how society changes at different paces.

The slowest pace of change is nature, then culture, then governance, then infrastructure, then commerce, and finally fashion - which changes fastest. It's a concept I've found very useful, one which describes a lot of other things too.

I was talking to my friend Gabby the other day about how I'm trying to read fewer news articles, and more books, and I realised that I kind of have a pace layer thing going on there too.

My reading layers, going from slowest to fastest would be: books, longform articles, RSS feeds & newsletters, newspaper articles, forums and chatrooms (Discord, Slack, etc), and then social media at the top.

Layers that are higher up change faster, but are quicker to experience. When I've got a couple of minutes and I'm looking for something snacky, I'll opt for one of those. When I've got a long train journey and I want to immerse myself into something nourishing, I'll opt for a lower layer.

Just like with pace layers, though, I feel like I spend my life a little higher in the strata than I would ideally want to. I'll opt for another refresh of the Guardian homepage over opening my read-it-later app, let alone pulling the book out of my bag that I brought along with the best of intentions.

So I'm working on that. And having a mental map of where I am and where I want to be is helpful. So here's my recreation of Brand's pace layers as reading layers. Maybe it'll be useful to you too?