Maryanne Wolf has a new article in The Guardian — Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound — accompanied by lots of comments on Hacker News.
I was lucky I’ve started to read it on a tablet otherwise on the laptop I would immediately skip it. The Guardian on laptop / desktop looks insupportable.
Another lucky factor was the Sunday morning, the good mood, the fresh spark attention, and the unlimited time I had to enjoy the article, even more, since it fits exactly my topic of interest: knowledge creation for humans.
Even if I wanted to read something interesting I couldn’t do it with this article. It was written so badly, boring, deliberately enlarged that I had to skim it, guided by the visual storytelling elements — the quotes and the images.
I saved it for later and I was wondering what was left in my brain after this experiment, will I be able to create at least a quote about this, or I will just post it as a simple link.
Then I headed back to Hacker News from where I’ve got the article and checking the comments made me immediately realize I’ll have to write a post about.
Forget the quote and the link, this is highly important.
We are forced to skim — in big part — because of the media and modern journalism, let’s call it Adtech.
- Web outlets are designed for distraction because primarily they are selling us, not educating us.
- Journalists, like Dostoevsky, are paid by the number of words written instead of the quality of the content.
- The Google search ranking algorithm prefers long articles filled with keywords instead of concise, bulleted summaries.
- We consume articles more and more on mobile phones where skimming (scrolling the feed) is a natural gesture.
- We try to know too many things but nothing well enough. (link)
- We have some form of “new information addiction” but not enough attention. (link)