Mike Pesca is hosting a new podcast called The Gist at Slate. One segment from a recent episode is about why we fail at online reading with guest Maria Konnikova who wrote an article for The New Yorker titled “Being a Better Online Reader.” I read it on my iPhone (I do a surprising amount of reading on that teeny tiny device), sitting at the table, conscious of what Konnikova said on Pesca’s podcast, that we tend to skim when reading on a device. I read. And then I glanced over at my laptop to update my iPod.
Very much illustrating one of Konnikova’s points that we are better at online reading if we manage to ignore distractions such as hyperlinks, sidebars and pop-ups. She also discusses how taxing it can be to switch from one website format to another: new font, new colors, new photos. Read Konnikova’s article, but the last idea that stays with me is how much easier it is to find information we read in a book because we remember that paragraph was near the top of a left page or in the middle of the book. Finding information we read online – unless bookmarked or highlighted – is much more difficult. Even so, I think we can read and glean as much online as in print if we are able to singularly focus on the reading.
Let me know what you think of Konnikova’s article, or tell me about your own print/online reading experience.