What’s At Stake With Online Skimming


In the morning the alarm sounds and the ritual begins.  People turn on their technology as they get ready for work.  As rush hour begins, more of us are engaging in a digital symphony of sifting through content.

With the click of a mouse, individuals can obtain access to the information they want.  This is the power of high-end computing. .  However, scientists are warning us of the consequences of constant web surfing.

According a recent piece in  The Washington Post, scientists conclude that human beings are developing digital brains.  The digital mind focuses on skimming through information.

We need individuals asking probative questions and a providing context to thrive.  Unfortunately, our culture is now dominated by nonstop cable TV news that gives sound bites and snapshots.  Also, we are also spending an average of five hours per day online according to eMarketer.

The good news is the brain is adapting to the  barrage of social media, e-mails and text messages.  The bad news is that comprehension and reading are adversely affected by all of this.  Our minds are developing short cuts to process all of this information.

There is nothing wrong with finding an efficient way to manage your information.  Sometimes a quick scan regarding  the “latest and greatest” on Facebook is the only sensible way.  Television alone has reduced our collective attention spans.  Some teachers are complaining that students are struggling through the classics.  How can civilization survive when we cannot grasp Shakespeare’s verses and Austen’s sentences?

There is a difference between online and print reading.  Based on some initial studies, researches conclude that comprehension seems better with paper.  Specialists have expressed concerns regarding learning when the love for technology can hamper their retention.  At this point, experts recommend more research regarding the differences between text and screen reading.

We cannot turn back the clock.  We all love the convenience of technology and how it makes life easier.   Yet, we have to take a break for the sake our of brain cells. Life demands constant adaptation and learning.  This happens when our minds can deal with the details.




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6 thoughts on “What’s At Stake With Online Skimming

  1. Methinks part of the problem is that online reading can have embedded links, which breaks a reader’s focus very easily if the person follows too many links elsewhere.

    Also digital information can get restructured…meaning website designs change, software platforms change with the same content. So hence, the same content might need to be approached/accessed a bit differently in 5 yrs. or later.

  2. Agreed. Sometimes, I find myself printing the online material just to make sense of it all. How can anyone managing all of their social media accounts? I just do not know. Lately, I just want to keep track of Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and delete the rest. It’s all about storytelling and content.

  3. Thanks. Who doesn’t enjoy running their fingers through the pages of book? I am striving to be a more careful reader regardless of the format of the publication.

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